With unbound enthusiasm for Torah and prayer, I am a passionate teacher/preacher. My energy emanates from deep faith forged by the fire of personal loss. A liturgist, poet, and lyricist, my work resonates with people of many faiths throughout the world. Offering a fresh Jewish voice, my work challenges the boundaries between poetry, meditation, personal growth, storytelling, teaching, and prayer.
As a teen Jewish day camp counselor, I felt a profound calling to serve the Jewish world. My choices took me away from that calling – journalist then businessman – until my life was rocked by the deaths of my two closest friends, the loss of my job, and the sudden, traumatic death of my wife. In writing prayer/poetry, I found hope and renewal which reignited my calling, realizing that every step away from serving the Jewish world taught me lessons that now inform my life’s work.
The Jerusalem Post called my writing “soulful, meticulously crafted.” Huffington Post Religion said that my “… prayers reflect age-old yearnings in modern-day situations.” Writing for Religion New Service, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin said that “Alden has become one of Reform Judaism’s master poet-liturgists.” Huffington Post Religion said: “…the prayers reflect age-old yearnings in modern-day situations.”
From Jerusalem to San Francisco, I have been blessed to teach in synagogues, churches, rabbinical schools, convents, and Limmud events. Let me bring your congregation an inspiring program, in person or online. Let’s spend Shabbat together.
My work includes a trilogy of poetic prayer books — This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day, This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings, and This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer, all from CCAR Press — examining sacred time, sacred word, and sacred encounter. My recent book, These Words: Poetic Midrash on the Language of Torah, is the 2023 Silver Medal winner in the category of spiritual/inspirational from the Independent Book Publishers Association.
My work has been widely anthologized, including Men Pray (Skylight Paths Publishing) and Choosing a Jewish Life (Anita Diamant, Schocken), as well as these CCAR Press books: Gates of Shabbat; Mishkah R’Fuah: Where Healing Resides; Mishkah Avielut: Where Grief Resides; L’col Z’man Eit: For Sacred Moments, a Rabbi’s Manual; and Mishkan Hanefesh, a new machzor. Find my full publishing credits here.
A three-time winner of Chicago journalism’s top prize for essay writing, it was my honor to be the National Havurah Committee’s 2015 Summer Institute Liturgist-In-Residence. Another highlight: being an ELI talk fellow, speaking on “Falling in Love with Prayer.” My latest passion is collaborating with musicians, including songs such as “Hallel in a Minor Key,” “Pervasive Peace,” and “Nothing Left but Tears,” which came out of my experiences in Israel on and after October 7, 2023.
I am available to teach, read his work, or serve as liturgist-in-residence, including several solo and multi-class courses which can be presented in person or online. Click on “Alden Teaches.” Here’s my speaking schedule, as well as testimonials from rabbis and educators.
A native Chicagoan, I made aliyah to Israel in 2012, where I hike, write, teach, and learn. Alden blogs for the Times of Israel and his prayers also appear regularly on ReformJudaism.org and Ritualwell.org. My latest prayers are available here at www.tobendlight.com. Active in men’s personal growth work, I’m also spearheading the creation and growth of ManKind Project Israel.
I hold a B.A. in English composition with a minor in literature from Beloit College, an M.A. in journalism from the University of Illinois-Springfield, and an M.B.A. in economics and finance from the University of Chicago. I previously served as executive editor and associate publisher for the Journals of the American Hospital Association.
To stay connected, please subscribe. You can also find To Bend Light on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For prayer writing prompts, join my Six-Word Prayer Page on Facebook. Here’s a link to find out more about my books.