Member since 2012

Owner of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope

Rabbi Katy Z. Allen is the founder and leader of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, a congregation without walls that meets outdoors all year long. She is the co-convener and President pro-tem of the Boston-area Jewish Climate Action Network, and the founder of the One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit in Framingham, MA.


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Earth Etude for Elul 11 – The Shemittah Cycle

by Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin~ Do you know where this new year falls in the shemittah (seven-year) count? Or when the next shemittah year will be? Even those of us who were deeply engaged in celebrating the last shemittah year may have difficulty remembering if it was 2 or 3 years ago. (It was 3 years ago – 5775, 2014-2015.) Yet shemittah, like Shabbat, is more than a slice of time. It is a presence, always with us. It is a practice, an attitude, a ...


Earth Etude for Elul 10 – I Can Do Something

by Joan Rachlin~ I recently retired and have since been immersed in climate change related activities. I once heard it said that most working folk are "denatured," so one of my post-retirement goals has been to “renature.” With this kavannah in heart and mind, I have been trying to more actively appreciate the boundless gifts nature offers us daily. Most specifically, I’ve begun to notice, appreciate, and more consistently support those who ...


Earth Etude for Elul 9 -Natural Awe and Artistic Representations

by Rabbi Steve Altarescu~ When we stood at Mt. Sinai, the mountain was described as ablaze with fire and the people heard the sound of God from out of the fire but did not see any form or shape. We learn that since we experienced God without a form or shape it would be wrong for us to make a likeness, a resemblance of anything in nature. Why does Moses repeat this prohibition four times? For the Torah there is power to an image, whether it be a ...


Earth Etude for Elul 8 – Where Are We Now?

by Rabbi Dorit Edut~ These narrow, dark  cobblestone streets still echo with the click-click  of  many shoes, sandals, boots…. of the modern tourists, flamenco dancers and local yuppies who now populate  these gentrifying neighborhoods  where  once there stood a Jewish ghetto – Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Granada… Small tiles with the words” Chai” in Hebrew or the Menorah symbol can be found scattered on the sidewalks. A Magen David is ...


Earth Etude for Elul 5 – Where Are We Going

  by Thea Iberall, Ph.D. A while ago, I started writing a book that contained everything I had learned about love, life, Jewish ethics, and about making peace with the past. And I made up a science fiction world of bad things happening. And one day, my sister Norrie said, “You don’t have to make it up. There’s bad things happening already.” I asked what she meant. She sat me down in front of her computer screen and showed me some ...


Earth Etude for Elul 7 – Our Last Elul?

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D.   ~If this were our last Elul might we see a different world? On the verge of our demise would each spark of nature sent by You remind us of Your light we are? In these days of hidden peace do we know we are Your kin together in the field? In darkest times does not the moon and sun still shine on us? Today may  elements of earth  be  manna, all reminders of divine connec...


Earth Etude for Elul 6 – Looking to the Sky, Remembering Our Ideals

by Rabbi Natan Margalit, Ph.D. ~Recently, I read an article in the New York Times Magazine that talked about the way that people do or say things, say, supporting a good cause or political opinion, not because they really believe in it, but because they want to signal to their social network that they are virtuous.  Apparently, there is a popular new label for this behavior: “virtue signaling.” The author reports that this term is most often used ...


Earth Etude for Elul 5 – Where Are We Going?

by Thea Iberall, Ph.D. ~A while ago, I started writing a book that contained everything I had learned about love, life, Jewish ethics, and about making peace with the past. And I made up a science fiction world of bad things happening. And one day, my sister Norrie said, “You don’t have to make it up. There’s bad things happening already.” I asked what she meant. She sat me down in front of her computer screen and showed me some charts. How the ...


Earth Etude for Elul 4 – Saying Farewell with Each Breath, Starting Anew

by Rabbi Judy Kummer~   Towards end of the day, towards summer's end, body and soul prepare for farewells.   Through piney woods I run, gauntleted by trees whose dark limbs reach up to breathe in fresh blue sky. Dim path; the light can't reach down here. Ahead, the river winks at me.   I thread my way out the wooded tunnel's end and can feel the sky lift -- and my mind lifts too. Before me lies ...


Earth Etude for Elul 3 – One Natural World

by Rabbi Robin Damsky~ While I do a great deal of writing for In the Gardens – our nonprofit that brings organic edible gardens to greater Chicagoland, donates 80% of our produce to the hungry and teaches mindfulness practice – when thinking about Elul, I had to dig in, no pun intended, for what to say. Because it’s not just about sharing the love of gardening or teaching about sustainable and healthy food. It’s about creation and our ...


Earth Etude for Elul 2 – From the Perspective of the 9th of Av, 5777

by Hazzan Shoshana Brown~ Writing on the mourning day of Tisha b’Av, I am inclined to think of this “etude” as rather more of a kinah (lament) for the magnificent temple of our Earth, third planet in our solar system. Not to say that Earth is a churban, a ruin like our ancient Temple in Jerusalem, but to say that like that once beating spiritual heart and ritual nerve-center of the nation of Israel, our planet is both magnificent and utterly ...


Earth Etude for Elul 1 Alarm Clock for the Soul

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ Today marks the beginning of the month of Elul, a period of self-reflection and the search for forgiveness. Each day during this month, you will find here an Earth Etude for Elul, a short reflection on teshuvah and Earth by a member or friend of Ma’yan Tikvah. We hope these Etudes will help you along the way on your journey.  It’s Elul. Once again. We’ll hear the shofar in the mornings, trying to wake us ...


Shanah Tovah 5777

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen   As you enter this new year may distance bring clarity     and may the many shades of the forest be clear to you  as separate and individual colors each unique in its own right   may the sky be ever visible to you  between the leaves    may you understand that the leaves the sky and the tendrils ...


Earth Etude for Elul 29: Hope Sprouting

by Rabbi Judith Kummer   ~ When the world is whirling and despair for the future begins to crowd in I turn to growing things, seeking hope.   The sweet potato plant cutting I made last week, Bereft of leaves but stuck into a vase to root anyway-- Just in case-- has now sprouted tiny purple and spring-green leaves, against all odds.   How did it know to grow, know it could grow?  What generative ...


Earth Etude for Elul 28: Our Repentance, Prayer, and Deeds of Righteous Action Will Stop Climate Change

by Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith ~ This year, as the sun sets on Yom Kippur, our prayers will reach a pinnacle of intensity as we recite the UnetanehTokef prayer:  “On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed.  How many shall leave this world, and how many shall be born; who shall live and who shall die, who in the fullness of years and who before; who shall perish by fire and who by water, who by sword and who by a wild beast; who by ...


Earth Etude for Elul 27: Teshuvah in the Garden

by Maxine Lyons ~ My perennial love relationship with the earth is expressed most explicitly in tending my flower gardens. For me it is spiritual work, a way to respect the earth while feeling more mindful of how growth and change is an ongoing  process and mirrors the major themes of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The spiritual work of Teshuvah on the Yamim Norayim for me often centers on facing challenges, reviewing the aspects of my life that ...


Earth Etude for Elul 26: You Were Wrong

by Ben Weilerstein ~ I You were wrong about environmentalism, man, no that’s not what I think no, I’m not really an environmentalist because if I say I am you’ll say in your head I’m saying things you don’t think need to be said, out loud, at all so, no, I’m not an environmentalist and I don’t feel a rush of flight, of my heels lifting up off the ground when I recycle a plastic bottle not like I do when I recite over and over again ...


Earth Etude for Elul 25: Bees, Fireflies, and Stars

by Ruah Swennerfelt ~ The bee was busy, humming around me and traveling from flower to flower, while I was sitting and weeding. I stopped my work to take a closer look and was amazed to see that, as the bee dove deep and touched a certain spot in the flower, the flower reached its stamen up to the bee’s butt and deposited some pollen. This interaction occurred again and again. I saw so clearly how the bee and the flower miraculously co-evolved for ...


Earth Etude for Elul 24: What Is Remembering?

by Steph Zabel ~ What is remembering? As I’ve ponder this question over the past several days, the following thoughts have come to me… Remembering is a return to wholeness and truth: a wholeness of self, of spirit, of place in the world. When we remember who we are, why we are here, and how we relate to the world around us, these remembrances — these truths — infuse our lives with richness and radiate outwards to all the lives around ...


Earth Etude for Elul 23: Tandem

by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman               Biking home on Orchard Street With the wind behind me, and Jamaica Pond Wrinkled and clear beyond the houses, A peregrine falcon winged down A feathered grace, gliding on my right.   For a breath, two, we flew side by side.   My grief, of late, has become more precise. There are worlds Beyond worlds, the ...