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Susan Levine


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Earth Etude for Elul 29: At the Hoh~A Rainforest in the Pacific Northwest

by Thea Iberall Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State The Amazon Rainforest is the most biodiverse region on Earth and provides shelter to three million species of plants and animals. Billions of trees absorb tons of carbon dioxide every year and produce 20% of earth’s oxygen. It’s been called the Lungs of the Earth. But I read something most disturbing. The Amazon rainforest is now emitting about a ...


Earth Etude for Elul 27: At the Edge of the Sea

by Rabbi Louis Polisson (Hebrew translation is after the English) At the edge of the sea On the sand, on the stones, on the shells I stand In prayer But where should I look What am I supposed to see ~ I want to contemplate The sea The reflections of the sun in her waves Illuminate and entice my eyes _ But the obligation of the East Onward, eastward Arises in my mind And draws me To turn away from the ...


Earth Etude for Elul 25: Navel of the Earth

by Rabbi Ariel Wolpe Midrash Tanhuma teaches that when the Holy One began to create the world, the Holy One did so as a child grows within the mother. Just as an embryo begins as a small cell and then expands in all directions, so too the world was created from a single point—from even shtiya, the foundation or “drinking” stone. This stone is the navel of the earth, nourishing us and connecting us to the Divine Mother. According to Rabbi ...


Earth Etude for Elul 23: Teshuvah and Water

by Rabbi Steven Rubenstein ~Teshuvah is reflected in the power to change And the waters that cleanse our souls. Rabbi Steven Rubenstein recently celebrated his 25th anniversary since his ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion. In that time he served congregations in San Francisco, CA, El Paso, TX, and Beverly, MA.  In addition, he has served as Director of Spiritual Care at Shalom Park in Denver, CO and currently ...


Earth Etude for Elul 22: Healing in Nature and Helping Nature Heal

by Joan Rachlin It has been just over 17 months since my husband suffered a stroke. It wasn’t just our lives that changed that day, though, as March 11, 2020 was also the day that Boston went into lockdown in an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19. We therefore found ourselves living in a bubble within a bubble and rehab services were consequently hard to find. All of the outpatient clinics were closed and home care was limited. In this ...


Earth Etude for Elul 21: Tikkun Olam and Climate Change

by Michael Garry Tikkun olam, which in Hebrew means “repair of the world,” has always been a guiding principle of the Jewish people, one that we teach our children and try to practice in our everyday lives.  In the modern era, tikkun olam means that Jews bear responsibility not only for their own moral, spiritual, and material welfare, but also for the welfare of society at large. It is well known that the welfare of the planet is now ...


Earth Etude for Elul 20: Rolling

by Carol Reiman Scroll turners, wooden handles, trees of life, our thumbs evolved, rolled down from years to screens;Leading us through dry sands, streams, times of manna, now of drought;Fires of the burning bush, now woods flaming by dream homes;Wanderers yearning for place,kinship of community, ability to thrive;Where do we take our strength?When do we listen to the land, to those who warn us of what comes?Are we as sturdy as our hopes,As ...


Earth Etude for Elul 17: The Birds

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein “Return again. Return again. Return to the land of our soul.”[1] The liturgy sings. I hear it in my head. This is the season of returning. ~ It’s quiet here. ~ A steaming cup of coffee, Billowing clouds of whipped cream. We thought it would be different by now. Stay at home. Wear a mask. Wash your hands.No guests for Shabbat dinner. ~ Inside, ~ It’s quiet. So very ...


Earth Etude for Elul 16: Lessons Learned from my Garden

by Maxine Lyons Reflecting on my connection to t’shuvah means returning more mindfully to positive words and actions and performing mitzvot - commandments. T’shuvah also includes recognizing our connection to the earth, and for me, learning what my garden has to teach me. In a short book, Don't Throw in the Trowel, the author quips, "a garden is a sublime lesson in the unity of humans and nature.” A good garden to me is one ...


Earth Etude for Elul 14: Turkey Tails and Teshuvah

by Rabbi Marisa Elana James In the park near my house is a large tree that fell last winter, the trunk slowly falling into decay thanks to four seasons of sun and rain and snow and wind slowly transitioning it back to the soil. When I pass it on walks, I always stop to see what’s new on the slowly-rotting trunk, because I’ve learned that it’s just as beautiful as the living, flowering trees that surround it. Mushrooms can grow incredibly ...


Earth Etude for Elul 13: Crater Lake

by Rabbi Shira Shazeer Many months after the world changed After worry, adjustment, connections lost and found Relearning how to live How to work How to family How to community ~ After holding on Holding together Holding, holding, ~ I took to the open road Family in tow To see the land and the wonder it holds ~ To reach out and in and rediscover Who am I Wherever I am In this world ...


Earth Etude for Elul 11: Morning Prayer

by Judith Felsen I awaken to a world uncertain of its future …Your will…??? ~ I perceive an earth in conflict and divided …Divine design…??? ~ I envision a tomorrow wondering and doubtful Heavenly plan…??? ~ I imagine next year’s future knowing it may not arrive Exalted humbling…??? ~ I experience uncertainty life’s newness in unknowns Celestial opening…??? ~ I dissolve ...


Earth Etude for Elul 10: Too Much of a Good Thing, or When All You’ve Ever Wanted is Really Too Much

by Rabbi Judy Kummer When this summer started, we in the Northeast were facing a drought. The levels of water in area lakes seemed to be down by as much as 4 feet, and rivers that should have been tumbling with early spring melt weren’t rushing and gurgling so much as dribbling, the vegetation on their nearby banks a droopy stunted mess. I was skeptical that the seedlings I had nurtured indoors all winter would survive if planted in my garden. ...


Can the Climate Crisis Bring Israeli and Diaspora Jews Together?

by Dr. Dov Maimon and Ambassador Gideon Behar ~The challenge of climate change may constitute a unique opportunity for joint action, especially among young Jews in Israel and the Diaspora, that would not only benefit the entire world, but also help create a renewed sense of mission for the Jewish people. Jews from across the globe could be mobilized for a task that transcends narrow Jewish interests: that of building an ecologically and socially ...


Earth Etude for Elul 9~ Environmental Justice and the Legacy of Redlining: A Call for Teshuvah

by Courtney Cooperman Jewish teachings about environmental stewardship emphasize our responsibility to protect Creation for future generations. In the Garden of Eden, God instructs Adam and Eve: “Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you” (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13). Although Judaism frames our responsibility to care for the planet in forward-looking terms, our commitment to ...


Earth Etude for Elul 8: Not What I Want

by Rabbi Benjamin Weiner On the road to the farmstore in my electric car, the baby starting to doze in her safety seat, and the man in his cold British tones, explaining to the listeners an inexorable future of unmanageable heat, and the hostess says: I’m sorry, but that’s all the time we have, and she moves on to the new war in Afghanistan. ~ In the mornings, when I wake too early, ...


Earth Etude for Elul 6: I Am a Terrible Gardener

by Rabbi Megan Doherty I am a terrible gardener. But I garden anyway. I hate weeding. I water my plants too much, or too little. I don’t know from fertilizer, or mulch, or those fancy cages which keep out the deer and the birds. I live in rural Ohio, and when I look at the thriving mini-farms my neighbors create and tend, I want to throw my hands up in despair. But I plant. One year, my dad showed up at our house with a bunch of ...


Earth Etude for Elul 5: Choosing Life as Nerds for the Earth

by Harvey Michaels ~Moses’ final message from G-d: This day…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.  For millennia we have reflected on what it means to choose life; realizing that it is not always our life we’re choosing – our choices are more about our children and theirs; our communities, and our world. What does it mean to Choose Life for the Earth? ...


Earth Etude for Elul 4: A Letter to Mother Earth

by Rabbi Judy Schindler Dear Mother Earth, As we spiritually make our way through the month of Elul and approach the anniversary of your and our creation, you are in our prayers for healing. An illness extends across the globe – COVID-19.  We know that you can feel it.  You wonder why people wear masks when the air should be so perfect to inhale. You cringe that we have come to fear rains and their floods, winds and their ...


Earth Etude for Elul 3: Joining Fifty Years of Mystic River Watershed Environmental Advocacy

by Karen L. Grossman In 2009 I was invited to get involved with the Mystic River Watershed Association, established in 1972 with a long, hard mission of environmental advocacy. As a board member for 10 years, I was able to admire how we partnered with other groups to champion environmental changes for MA, pursuing concerns with land use and transportation, involving the location of the Alewife Red Line Station, a highway building moratorium, the ...