Articles and Resources
If you are a Jewish leader or interested in bringing Positive Judaism to your community, please feel free to use these growing list of resources. Please share your feedback, insights, and any resources that you find helpful as you develop Positive Judaism in your community and in your life with me directly, dlevine @tamidnyc.org.
“Positive Judaism: A First Look for Clergy and Educators”
by Rabbi Darren Levine, Published in the CCAR Journal, Summer 2017
Positive Judaism lives at the intersection of Positive Psychology and Judaism. This article is the first effort to articulate the connection between Jewish practice, thought, and philosophy; and, the science of human achievement and character strengths. Drawing on Torah, Talmud, Mussar, prayer, ritual, and ancient and modern commentary, the author shows that the core tenets of Positive Psychology and Jewish living are not only perfect compliments, but will lead enrich the lives of the people we serve and strengthen our communities.
“Deep Listening: Lessons from Spiritual Imagination”
By David Bryce Yaden, Published in Scientific American, January 8, 2018
Near the holiest site of one of the world’s oldest religions, a small group of scientists, scholars, writers and religious leaders gathered to discuss the psychology of religion and spirituality.The location was Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock), a geological wonder in the middle of Australia. This place is featured in the creation myth of the Anangu people, an Aboriginal tribe that forms one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures. The event’s host was the Imagination Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to making progress on the measurement, growth, and improvement of imagination across all sectors of society.
“The True Purpose of Jewish Education”
by David Bryfman, PhD, Jewish Education Project, New York
If I was to be audacious enough to write a comprehensive goal for Jewish education in 5777 it might go something like this…The purpose of Jewish education today is to ensure that Jewish tradition empowers people to thrive in today’s world. For Jewish education to be successful, it must hold at its core, the mission to make people happy. If we don’t strive for this, Jewish education – and by extension living a Jewish life – will remain irrelevant for the vast majority of Jews today.
“Shabbat Unplugged: Pathway to Happiness”
Voices from the pulpit: “What do I see this year as I watch your lives unfold before me? I see more than ever, whatever your age, you are more rushed, pushed, and stressed than ever before. I see you weary from years of deep economic recession working harder and longer than ever. I see children younger and younger, worn out from constant activity and the pressure to do well in school to get into a good college.”
by Rabbi Rick Litvak, PhD, Temple Beth El, Aptos, CA
“Positive Judaism > Happiness,”
by Rabbi Darren Levine, ejewishphilanthropy.com
In the past year, among leading Jewish educators, there has been considerable attention given to the issue of Happiness in developing Jewish Identity among young people. In this article, Darren argues that a happiness is important, but incomplete. What about when living hurts? Educators would fail if they only equipped people with “happy” because they would not have the tools to face real life challenges. In addition to happiness, educators and clergy should also teach the range of strengths and values offered within Positive Judaism, such as gratitude, optimism, hope, courage, resilience, and forgiveness.
The Best Hanukkah Gift: Positivity and Happiness
Hanukkah offers the perfect opportunity to give a present that will last a lifetime: the gift of positivity and happiness. While it may be customary to give gadgets and toys, studies show these types of presents do not actually raise a person’s level of joy and happiness. Material gifts may boost positive emotions, but only temporarily. A more permanent gift would be to teach and identify one’s signature character strengths. . . . Click to read more.
Two Positive Passover Seder Guides
Passover is about stories and rituals and lends itself naturally to the core teachings of Positive Judaism: gratitude, hope, awe, inspiration, courage, love, and joy. Regardless of your background or level of Jewish observance, these guides pair the essence of the Passover Seder with universal human strengths and values. The same strengths and values displayed by the Israelites in the ancient day are the very same strengths that we can draw on today to lead positive lives.
Six Positive Judaism Study Sessions
These study guides have been designed for those seeking to have a Positive Judaism conversation in your community. Each two-page study guide is designed to for a one-hour group session for people of all backgrounds. The group leader is encouraged to offer a five minute guided meditation on the topic of each session at the beginning and end of the group study experience and to bring their own personal experience to their teaching. Each guide is a stand alone session and can be experienced in any order.
Click here for the Guided Sessions for Group Study
Positive Judaism From the Pulpit
There is much that Jewish professionals should know about the field of Positive Psychology as it deals primarily with research and findings related to well-being, happiness, and the proven factors that lead people to living lives of meaning. Since clergy and educators have the well-being of the individuals and communities we serve at the center of our work, a knowledge of this field is critical. . . Read more
The Positive Judaism Classification of Traits and Strengths
Judaism and Positive Psychology make the perfect pairing. Both are focused on living a life of meaning and achieving higher levels of well-being. The categories that lead people to achieve optimal living and the values that make life more fulfilling are comprised of 24 character strengths that fall under six broad virtue categories: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. I use this framework (VIA Classification of Strengths) as the basis for the core traits and values of Positive Judaism by pairing each strength with their corresponding Jewish values, biblical teachings, and Jewish practice.
Click here for the Positive Judaism Classification of Strengths