Baruch HaLevi moved to Swamscott, MA to become rabbi of two recently merged synagogues in 2006. This book tells the story of revitalization of Jewish life in that setting. Rabbi “B”, as he is called, credits the revival of Ruakh (meaning wind, breath, mind, spirit) as the centerpiece of that renewal. Many in the congregation credit his passion and leadership style. New strategies developed for the synagogue include a Shabbat experience of radical hospitality, a new form of provisional membership, the renewal of worship and sacred spaces, and encouragement of daily personal spiritual development. The style of the book, with co-author Ellen Frankel, is engaging, honest and straightforward. It claims to describe the difference between a dying synagogue and a vibrant one. The strategies advocated are transferable beyond synagogue life to include Jewish Spiritual Centers, foundations, community centers, and institutions. This work is part of the Synagogue 3000 emphasis.
Reviewed by Brian Witwer