My Story, the Short Version
My wife fell down, hit her head and died. I began writing prayers from my grief and, later, from a place of joy, renewed. I wrote about love and loss, infertility and cancer, travel and adventure, children and friendship. The prayers connected my heart to the hearts of people all over the world. Then, these new partners in prayer asked me to write a book.
Sample the Prayers
There are more than 150 new prayers for people of all faiths in Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. Here’s a prayer sampler from the book, including audio (click on the triangle in the bar below the excerpt):
From “Whispered Prayer”
Your secret hope
Your quiet yearning
Have holiness and power…”
From “On Recovery from Surgery”
of renewal and strength,
Thank you for the gifts of vitality, comfort and recovery
After the many traumas of surgery…”
What Others Say About the Book
“A masterful set of conversations with God.”—Rabbi William H. Lebeau
“Authentic, honest and alive . . . this book brings God into everyday life.”—Rev. Dr. Margaret Benefiel
“Alden Solovy is a craftsman of words.”—Rabbi David Levin-Kruss
“Alden’s words from his faith tradition find a home in my own heart and in the hearts of my Christian readers.”—Pastor Austin Fleming
“A loving guide for people searching for a way forward.”—Rabbi Susan Silverman
“A collection inspired by the ancient Jewish yearning for God that speaks to us all.”—Susan Diamond, Prayables/Beliefnet
Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing will be a soft-cover, perfect-bound 5"x7" volume. (These mock-ups are for illustration and are not to scale.)
The ability to build a broad marketing campaign will have a huge impact on the reach of these prayers. Here are “stretch” goals and thank you rewards:
• If the campaign reaches $15,000, everyone who contributes $25 or more will get a free copy of the song “Psalm 150” from God is Near by Andrew Dennen and Tracy Friend.
• If we reach $18,000, all who contribute $25 or more will get a free copy “Psalm 150,” plus an audio companion of five prayers from the book that I will create as a special bonus gift.
Here’s a link to God is Near on CDBaby where you can preview all the songs on the CD, including “Psalm 150.”
What will I do with the additional support? I’ll create two or three U.S. and U.K. book tours and possibly a book trailer, which have become very popular for introducing new books.
When this campaign is over, I’ll open a book store on my web site. Many of these reward packages will be available, but at higher prices. Now’s the time to join in. Thanks for considering it.
My Story, a Few More Details
Here's an excerpt from my introduction to the book, where I tell — in greater detail — the story of how I rediscovered prayer and prayer rediscovered me:
“In the month before my wife Ami died, my meditation practice shifted dramatically. Until then, I would sit for fifteen minutes in the morning after reading two inspirational texts. Then, I’d pray. The prayers were usually on the same theme: the health and well-being of others generally, plus family and friends, in particular. After prayer, I’d write a gratitude list, a personal affirmation and my intentions for the day, as well as any specific observations that came to mind about my feelings and experiences during the past day or so.
“The basic structure of this practice remained constant, but the meditation took on a depth and breadth I couldn't explain. I’d begin the practice and, without noticing the flow of time, I’d lose most awareness until I had a sense that my meditation was over. An hour or more had passed with my mind completely quiet, something I have never experienced since.
“Several times during the month, I’d say to friends, “I’m so full. This is so different, so new. I don’t understand why I am so full.” I felt like a river of blessings overflowing its banks. And I wondered — rather casually, it now seems — if God was preparing me for something.
“A week after Ami died, I was completely empty. Out of gas. Out of energy. Out of emotion. I was a blank, less-than-zero shadow of a man making the motions of life. I stopped meditating. I stopped praying. I stopped writing. This wasn't a theological or an existential statement. I simply needed to get up in the morning — force myself up, really — and take care of the business of life. And family. And death.
“I wondered, “How does a man call his daughters to say, ‘Your mom is going to die today’?” I did it. I did it twice. The simple fact is that I have no idea how to do it. I know that somewhere, today, this very moment, another father is giving his children the worst news of their lives. Somewhere else, a mother is doing the same thing. I am convinced that, like me, they will understand what they did, but may never understand how they did it.
“I wondered, “Will I ever write another prayer? Will I ever want to pray or meditate or write a gratitude list again?” The questions felt stupid. Of course not. Why the hell would I ever write another prayer?
“The question, however, had its own answer, a different answer. My children. What else could I really do for them but pray? One morning, without my usual morning process, a prayer moved from my pen to the paper, a prayer “For Bereaved Children.” With my own hand and my own heart — guided by a Power I did not understand — I found the words that I needed to recite on behalf of my girls. In that moment, my view of my life shifted. The gift that I’d give the world, in the shadow of Ami’s death, would be a new voice of prayer.”
Want to Sample a Few More Prayers?
Please visit my website, tobendlight.com, to sample more prayers. And here’s a YouTube link to my prayer “To the Soldier, To the Veteran” being read at a Veterans Day commemoration and a link to a video produced by Call on Faith of my prayer “For the Survivors of 9/11.” See Project Updates 2 and 4 for videos of me reading two prayers: “For Bereaved Children” and a thank you prayer that will open the Acknowledgements. There’s a button to view the Projects Updates at the top of this page.
Meet the Reviewers
Please meet the men and women who read my prayers and this book, providing the kind words shown on the video and on this page. Four very special endorsements came from Rev. Dr. Margaret Benefiel, Susan Diamond, Pastor Austin Fleming and Rabbi David Levin-Kruss. Two lovely and touching introductions, written by Rabbi Susan Silverman and Rabbi William H. Lebeau, will set the tone for readers.
Rabbi William H. Lebeau is former vice chancellor for rabbinic development and immediate past dean of the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary former rabbi of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, Ill. He is senior consultant for rabbinic and institutional leadership for the Rabbinical Assembly.
Rev. Dr. Margaret Benefiel is the Executive Officer of Executive Soul, LLC, www.executivesoul.com. She is a consultant and a coach and offers spiritual direction to leaders and organizations. Dr. Benefiel is also an adjunct faculty member at Andover Newton Theological School in Boston and a visiting lecturer at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland.
Pastor Austin Fleming is a Parish Priest in the Archdiocese of Boston and the author of the popular blog A Concord Pastor Comments, as well as the Prayerbook for Engaged Couples and Preparing for Liturgy: A Theology and Spirituality.
Rabbi Susan Silverman is author of Casting Lots: How Raising My Children Helped Me Find God.
Rabbi David Levin-Kruss is director of special programs and faculty in Mishna, Talmud, Torah and philosophy at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem.
Susan Diamond is founder and publisher of Prayables and the contributing publisher and editor for Beliefnet.
Meet the Cover Photographer
The photo is the work of Martin Sykes-Haas, a Jerusalem-based photographer and a friend. I love it, which is why copies of the photo are available at several reward levels. Martin and I pray together in a warm and caring community. Martin specializes in pictures of the Old City, street views, abstracts and large scale decorative images. His work ranges from classic views of Jerusalem — Jewish, Christian and Moslem — to shots of the unique, the interesting and the unexpected. Please visit his web site at www.jerusalemphotographs.com.
The cover is a close-up of the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, an iconic symbol of Jewish prayer, known all over the world by people of all faiths. Legend says that the Divine Presence rests on the Western Wall. People come from all over the world to put their prayers on paper on insert them into cracks in the Wall, like the ones in this photo. Another legend says that if one returns to the Kotel for 40 consecutive days — and prays for one specific thing — that it will be granted.
Meet the Musicians of God is Near
Andrew Dennen and Tracy Friend created the music of God is Near, a wonderful collection of 13 original liturgically-based songs ranging from pop to jazz, as well as ballads and middle-eastern fare.
Tracy has been composing music since she attended summer camp in the 1970s, where she discovered the power of expressing prayer through music. She recorded her first CD, When All is Said and Done, in 2004, and donates a portion of every sale to the One Family Fund, an organization providing financial, legal and emotional assistance to victims of terrorism in Israel. For Tracy, songwriting is a spiritual journey and a way to connect the rich Jewish history of words and stories to the world of today. She’s founder and coordinator of the Midwest Singer/Songwriter Association.
A musician and poet for more than 30 years, Andy says “it wasn't until almost six years ago that I learned what all the training was actually for. Reading Torah, listening to teachers, learning about who I am and who my ancestors were has helped shape me and who I am. I attempt to capture all of this in these melodies.” This sums it up: “For me, music is the key to creating sacred space, a lightening rod held up to the sky.” His latest solo release is Open My Lips and he recently created a new band called Soul Zimra.
Risks and challenges
My deadlines are tight for delivery of books in November. There is a risk that they will not be available or delivered in time to use as Hanukkah gifts. I'll keep you informed of progress throughout the final design, production and shipping process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Several reasons, both serious and fun. Kickstarter is a way to give my friends and supporters a chance to participate in the creation of the book. This is exciting to me and, from what some folks have said, it’s exciting to them, too. The serious reason may be obvious: independent publishing costs money. It’s as simple as that. Your pledge will help me bring this book into the world.
Thanks for your interest. First, please pledge today. The countdown is running. Your support will help generate more interest.
Second—this matters a lot—please spread the word. Share a link on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Here are two ideas. Be sure to include the link to this page:
“I just supported a new book of prayers on Kickstarter. You should too.” http://bit.ly/AldensPrayers
“I love the prayers in Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. Help support the project on Kickstarter. I did.” http://bit.ly/AldensPrayers
Here's an email you can send to family and friends. Use "as is" or edit it:
My friend Alden Solovy, who recently moved to Israel, is completing a book called Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. He has launched a Kickstarter funding campaign that’s quite compelling. Rather than me telling you about it, please click on the link below and listen to Alden’s explanation. Of course, I'm participating, and I hope that many of our friends and relatives will choose to participate as well. http://bit.ly/AldensPrayers
And drop me an email if you are able to put a flier out at your synagogue, church or other locations. I'll send you a PDF you can print and distribute or email.
Electronic rewards (Thank You Pack and bonus MP3) will be delivered via email, including a link to the “Kickstarter Supporter Thank You Page.” Books will be shipped directly from the printer, except the Limited Edition Signed Copies, which I will send after personalizing them to you.
It’s the text of “Whispered Prayer”—in nice font with a decorative boarder—delivered as a PDF file.
Absolutely, thanks for asking. Check out “Give a Gift” (three books), “Even More Books” (seven) and the “Virtual Book Club” (10). The "Virtual Book Club" also includes a 30-minute author Q&A via Skype. If you want more, you can always pledge again and select another reward with more books. That would be nice!
Prayer is so personal and so powerful that it’s a unique way to say thank you to a friend, a colleague, a family member or someone in need. With Hanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa coming up, think about holiday gifts for leaders in your church or synagogue, teachers or other people you know who enjoy or are in need of prayer. Or be even more creative and give copies to the libraries at your local hospice, palliative care center, elder home, hospital or place of worship.
Yes, because I have to pay a premium to ship books here. However, I’d be happy to arrange personal delivery in Jerusalem at a book event (which will be planned) or a coffee shop.
Let me help you write a prayer or finish a poem. Send me your prayer or poem, written in English, via email. I’ll read it and then we’ll discuss it on a 20-minute Skype call, with a mutually agreed date and time of the call. After the call you’ll have the opportunity to revise it based on our conversation. I’ll post the final version on my site on a special Kickstarter Supporter Thank You Page after you send me the final version. Length of prayer is limited to 40 lines. To be consistent with my mission of healing through prayer, please note that submission of prayers or poems with violence, racism, hate, explicit sexual content or other content considered inappropriate by me will disqualify the supporter from the Skype call and web site posting.
Parties are a fun and informal way to get to know an author’s work more intimately. We’ll “meet and greet” for the first 15 minutes or so, then sit down together to talk about prayer. I’ll read some works from the book and some other pieces, as well. We’ll talk for 45 minutes to an hour, leaving time for informal conversation to close the party. I’ll bring 10 copies of the book and 10 photos of the cover art for you to give as gifts to your guests. This is available in the following major metropolitan areas: New York, Washington/Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Jerusalem and anywhere in Israel. For questions about availability in other cities, please use the “Contact Me” button below my photo.
What an inspirational way to honor a person or a memory! We’ll have a 20-30 minute Skype call to talk about the person or event. I’ll write a first draft and we'll talk about it again. After that, you’ll get a final prayer. Then it’s up to you how you want to present it. Read it at an event or have it written in calligraphy. I can connect you with Israeli calligraphers who are skilled artisans and scribes. You’d make arrangements separately for that service. Please allow six to eight weeks from the start of the project to finishing the prayer. Other details: no more than two people on the calls. The dates and times of calls will be mutually determined.
Bring me to a wedding, a milestone birthday, b’nai mitzvoth or any life cycle event. I’ll be there as a brief speaker to introduce the prayer and read it. If desired, I'll also present it to the recipient. At your option, I’ll also read one or two other prayers of mine during the event, appropriate to the occasion. This is available in the following major metropolitan areas: New York, Washington/Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Jerusalem and anywhere in Israel.
For questions about availability in other cities, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, absolutely. However, please send me an email about the date before pledging. I’ll check to make sure that I am available and will put it on my calendar.
My Hebrew is not at the level yet. I’ll write the prayer in English. If you’d like, I can help connect you with a professional translator in Israel. You’d make arrangements separately for that service.
The copyright will be held by me. You’ll receive a permission letter allowing you to use and reproduce the prayer for all non-commercial uses.
Bring me to your church or synagogue. To prepare, we’ll have a 20-30 minute Skype call to talk about your goals for the weekend. I’ll give two talks on prayer, each including reading a few of my prayers. These 20-25 minute talks are suitable for use as sermons to the congregation. I’ll also conduct two small group classes on prayer, 45 min each, 12 people maximum in each class). You will get 10 copies of the book to sell at retail price or give as gifts to clergy and lay leadership. I will also provide a one-hour public reading and discussion event, held in conjunction with a book signing. I’ll bring additional books to sell and take orders if we run out. All local logistics are arranged and paid for by the sponsor. You provide all local transportation, including transportation to and from the airport; vegetarian or kosher meals; and housing. The dates will be mutually selected. The event will run Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. This is only available in the following major metropolitan areas: New York, Washington/Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Jerusalem and anywhere in Israel. For availability in other cities, please use the “Contact Me” button below my photo.
If you’d like to custom-design an event, contact me at email@example.com.
The simple answer is travel costs. People I asked to review my Kickstarter rewards said clearly that they would not want me adding large travel costs to this project to fund speaking rewards. I don’t believe that you, as a Kickstarter contributor, would want me to use your money in that way. The U.S. locations are the places that I frequent anyway. I know I’ll be there, so I don’t need to worry about those costs. Israel is small and getting around is easy.
For questions about availability in other cities, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please email me with your question about a specific city. There are other places I need to visit for personal and business reasons. Who knows? Another location may work out.
For questions about availability in other cities, contact me at email@example.com.
Just hit the blue "Manage Your Pledge" button and adjust it there.
This is a fun way to add something different to your book club. Of course, you’re responsible for all the technical details. The dates and times of the Skype will be mutually determined, but I will try to accommodate your regular book club meeting schedule, Shabbat excluded. (Depending on where you live, the time difference from Jerusalem can be pretty big.)
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