Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Making Time for Prayer and Religious Dialogue Top New Year's Resolution Lists

/PRNewswire/ -- The year 2009 will mark a significant return to personal prayer and religious dialogue, according to Dr. Aliza Lavie, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University and currently a Research Associate at The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.

Lavie's fields of research include gender, public communications and multiculturalism, and she scoured historical archives and private collections to uncover the forgotten manuscripts and human stories that she presents in A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book, published by Spiegel & Grau/Random House earlier this month.

"What I have discovered in the past few weeks is most remarkable. Throughout the diverse communities and movements that I have visited in the United States - religious cultural and political organizations, student groups, mid-life professionals, the aged - in every place there is interest in the power of prayer and in the development of religious dialogue."

Dr. Lavie notes that her contacts and observations extend far beyond the Jewish community and include Christians, Muslims and people who choose not to categorize their faith.

Prayer as a mosaic of communication and knowledge that is continually growing in real time.

"At Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York, at the JCC in Milwaukee, and at an event in Buffalo, I met women who recognized some of the prayers from a particular 19th-century Czech book of prayers which I had included in A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book. I have not encountered Jewish Czech women in Israel or Europe who remembered those prayers. For other parts of the Jewish nation, this knowledge and this connection was burnt in Auschwitz."

Confessing to prayer

Lavie notes that people who say they haven't read the Bible and never prayed before now "confess" to more than introspection and meditation: they report thinking about and talking to their Creator. "They keep journals, they talk to God while they're driving, they open their mouths and ask for help. Perhaps even more surprising, people report having conversations with others about God."

"They are not new for people," Lavie says of the prayers in her book. "Even though people haven't actually heard or read them before, they've had them in the back of their memory. They have them in their blood."

Making time for diet, exercise, more family time and prayer

"Of course I hear many people saying they hope this year they'll stick to their diet; Others are resolving to refrain from texting in the car and promising to keep to the minutes in their cell phone plans. Maybe it's because people associate me with prayer and so this is what they tell me, but I also hear people saying they plan to keep in touch with God this year. And when they say something like 'please, God' about those other resolutions it sounds like their diet, exercise and cell phone resolve might stick."

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