Ancient Wisdom, Modern Words: Poems, Prayers, and Readings

Ancient Wisdom Modern Words

Each spiral bound book is $10.00 (S & H not included).

Order a book here

 For information on bulk sales for
congregational use, please write

“This book of liturgical poems appeals both to Jews and non-Jews.  Gurian has written these poems with traditional and contemporary Jewish themes in mind, yet has also created poetry to stir the heart of a universal audience.”

          — Rabbi Stuart Altshuler, Chapman University

These poems and readings have brought new life into our Sabbath and High Holidays services.  They capture the essence of our traditional readings and expand the meaning in a way that leads to powerful reflection.  They are uplifting!

— Dale Severance, former President, Temple Beth Shalom,
and USCJ Regional Board Member


Nearly a decade ago, I began to realize that a great deal of Jewish liturgy was not reaching into the hearts of congregants.  Even if some of us read the Hebrew liturgy or knew some of the Hebrew chanting by heart, the English seemed out of touch with contemporary life.

Rabbi Jack Izakson, then the rabbi of my home temple, Temple Beth Shalom, understood this phenomenon, and he and I began to dialogue about what we could do.  Rabbi Izakson and I were not alone in having dialogues of this kind.  Throughout the world, conversations are ongoing regarding how to help Jews feel a deep sense of direct connection with God and prayer.   The Conservative Jewish Movement, for instance, has formed a Hayom group—rabbis, scholars, thinkers—whose purpose is to deliver new vision of inspiration and depth for Jewish worship and life.

While Rabbi Izakson and I discussed and explored, I got to work on writing new Jewish liturgy in English, with Rabbi Izakson nudging me toward ever greater depth.  Over the next six years, with Rabbi Izakson my first rabbinic critic, then with the help of Rabbis Dov Gartenberg  and Stuart Altshuler, I wrote new poetry and readings to accompany Jewish liturgy for Friday and Saturday services, High Holidays services, and other annual services and life-events.  

ANCIENT WISDOM, MODERN WORDS: POEMS, PRAYERS, AND READINGS collects these in one volume.   Please click this link to see poems from the book.   The book is spiral bound, with highly readable print, so that it can fit right into pews, its spine strong enough for repeated use. 

If you are Jewish, you will see reference lines with each poem for place of use in liturgy.  However, if you are not a temple-goer, or if you are not Jewish,  you can read these poems at home or away, as the spirit moves you, without needing to attach them to one specific place in a Jewish service.  

Also by Michael Gurian

The Sabbath


Ancient Wisdom Modern Words book cover

The Sabbath

Ancient Wisdom Modern Words book cover

The Sabbath

Ancient Wisdom Modern Words book cover

The Sabbath

Home       Jewish Communities      Christian Communities      

Training Opportunities for Jewish Communities     Training Opportunities for Christian Communities      

Jewish Conferences    Jewish Camps    Books      About Us     Contact Us  

2010 Faith Communities