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Susan Levine


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Earth Etude for Rosh Hashanah: 5783

by Rabbi Katy Allen The Eternal came down in a cloud. וַיֵּרֶד ה’ בֶּֽעָנָן (Ex. 34:5) Clouds, you change,  from minute to minute, from day to day, from season to season, from year to year, growing, shrinking, even sometimes seeming to disappear,  doing whatever is necessary,  whatever is needed,  to fit the conditions, ...


Earth Etude for Elul 29: Chasing Sunrise

by Sarah Chandler The rolling fog Invites me To stretch my neck To peek at a new perspective It’s Not quite bright enough To squint ~ My eyes wide across the valley Trying not to wait For something else to be ~ Just when I think My orientation is eastward The clouds above the mountain Tickle the sky Spreading north across the orange glow These trees form a frame Filled with smaller frames So ...


Earth Etude for Elul 28: When One Door Closes, Another Opens

by Joan Rachin Like many of a certain age, my husband and I had decided to downsize, but unlike many others, ours was less a choice and more a necessity following his stroke two+ years ago. We loved our town, neighborhood, and street and had been making plans to “age in place” before life intervened. As I began to survey the overwhelming task ahead, it was clear that my obsession with helping preserve what pristineness remained in nature had ...


Earth Etude for Elul 27: Grateful Lament

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D. My King, How will I love You when we meet in this year’s fields of Elul? You who have sent illness, pandemic, bloodshed, injustice, hypocrisy, fire, starvation and death… We have been estranged and denying our separation for eons Now it has come to this… With my ambivalence how will I love You? Will I remember that You sent us Your    starry sky on Your darkest night    blooms ...


Earth Etude for Elul 26– Turning to Shabbat: An Ecological Approach

by Dr. Leah Cassorla In the loaming, Boobah the One-eyed Wonderdog and I sit outside in our vast, shared backyard, watching the swallows. As the evening descends, we watch the tree line of the nearby patch of forest. The lightning bugs begin their fiery dance before us, the swallows swoop in and out, and hares hop in and out of the line of sight--my line of sight as Boobah's is thankfully too restricted to catch them. I consider this beautiful, if ...


Earth Etude for Elul 25: For the Land in Not Mine

by Rabbi Louis Polisson And the land shall not be sold for ever; for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me1 ~ And now we are learning ~ That the Land belongs to No One, To the One with No End For the earth was confusion and chaos2 ~ And we too have become wild and waste Human beings from the earth Human beings, full of harm3 for the earth Every day ~ But our fate is not sealed ...


Earth Etude for Elul 24: Choosing Gratitude

by Rabbi Judy Kummer It was my ankle that went. There I was, in the gorgeous Berkshires countryside, walking briskly with my sister-in-law on a glorious true-blue spring day, sun spilling giddily over wildflowers by the sides of the country road, bugs thrumming merrily in the long grass and the smells of freshness and potential all around. My sister-in-law pointed out cows in a nearby field;  as I glanced over at them, savoring the ...


Earth Etude for Elul 23: Signal Hill

by Thea Iberall, PhD Signal Hill stands 365 feet above Long Beach in Southern California looking down on San Pedro Bay, home of the largest US port. In the 1500s, Tongva tribe members stood on the hill sending smoke signals to their families on Catalina Island. Early settlers used to call it the Bay of Smokes. Eventually, large homes were built on the hill, surrounded by an abundance of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Even a Hollywood movie ...


Earth Etude for Elul 22: Fifty Shades of Green

by Rabbi Suri Krieger “Green green, it’s green they say, on the far side of the hill Green green I’m goin’ away to where the grass is greener still” It’s a song that was a familiar refrain for me in my growing up years. I loved the message as much as the melody. We were a camping kind of family, and grazing in the greenery of the woodlands was my sacred place. But wherever we went… the Green Mountains of Vermont or the Poconos ...


Earth Etude for Elul 21: The Earth Objects

by Rabbi Charles R. Lightner “And the giants began to kill men and to devour them. And they began to sin against the birds and the beasts and creeping things and the fish, and to devour one another’s flesh. And they drank the blood. Then the earth brought accusation against the lawless ones for all that was done on it.” (1 Enoch 7:4-6)[1] “And again I saw them, and they began to gore one another, and the earth began to cry out.” (1 Enoch ...


Earth Etude for Elul 20: Unfinished Blessing

by Bill Witherspoon We were supposed to name all the animals. Lately we have gotten pretty good at it, While it begins to dawn on us that Even that slender branch of the tree of life (Let alone the one on which crawl the slime molds, Or the branch dotted with archaea microbes that turn salt ponds pink Or the one spread with green life that converts sunlight into food) Is just too prolific for words. Still, 500 animal species ...


Earth Etude for Elul 18: Pine Needles

by Asher Hillel Burstein Of love’s immortal way they said, Cheat the grave her wonted siege. Garlands round your plot of earth, Home the wand’ring lights of I. Who now as all on edge of time, Toll the eager moonlit tide. No nuptial love has such a kind, That hopes for songs he cannot write. Nor knows a heart like his so dimmed, By sweet rejected notes; he aches. To share with one for whom he dies, By day, by night; ...


Earth Etude for Elul 17: Butterflies

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein I live on the prairie, in the Prairie State of Illinois. Not a “Little House on the Prairie,” a big house, but there are vistas that remind me of that show. In a county that is known for its dairy farming. Borden Milk came from here. The library is the Gail Borden Public Library. That Borden. The house across from the synagogue is known as the “Butterman’s House” because the prices for butter as a commodity ...


Earth Etude for Elul 16: Illuminating the fire of the burning bush.

by Carol C. Reiman Livestreaming ladder of angelic messengers. Protecting voice of the she-ass, female with the weight of responsibility, birthing words of courage, seer of boundaries This is the place in which we have walked, oblivious or called. Wandering, weeping by waters, reaching beyond and within. Nurturing what was pulled from the reeds, allowing the land and its tenders to rest, leaving food at the ...


Earth Etude for Elul 15: Water is Life

by Dr. Mirele Goldsmith Not long ago, I visited Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River. I was awed by the revelation that the Mississippi watershed extends to 40% of the United States and the river itself is 2,340 miles long.  I was so moved that I spontaneously recited the blessing for fulfilling the commandement to immerse in living waters, the traditional blessing for visiting the mikveh (ritual bath.)  Jewish tradition ...


Earth Etude for Elul 13: The Spirituality of Coffee

by Rabbi Steven Rubenstein Each year I choose a theme for my High Holy Day thoughts for my community, which they receive in written form. They are a continuation of the div’rei Torah that I write each week. An administrative assistant revealed to me that she enjoyed sitting down at her table on Saturday morning with her cup of coffee in hand to read my comments and to reflect upon them. From this admission I decided to devote this year’s theme to ...


Earth Etude for Elul 12: Repentence for Earthlings

by Rabbi Mike Moscowitz The story is told about two people who are disputing ownership over a piece of land, each claiming that it belongs to them. A rabbi is consulted to offer a ruling in Jewish Law to decide the case. After carefully listening to the arguments of both sides he says “Ok, now I need to hear what the land has to say about it.”  With quite a bit of hesitation, both parties finally agree to accompany the Rabbi to the parcel of ...


Earth Etude for Elul 11: It’s Done, It’s Not Done

by Judith Black Our beautiful planet will survive and rehabilitate itself. We will not. Not the animals, not the insects, not the glaciers, not the poles. Seeing one’s own extinction Standing on that precipice We still have a choice to make Will I sink into the couch Despair invading every pore Weeping for the duration Will I fight like hell Pushing legislators and industry Creating clean, healthy, just alternative...


Earth Etude for Elul 10: We’re in This Together

by Rabbi Marisa Elana James Maybe you’ve experienced the moment that I sometimes do, back pressed to the earth, suddenly feeling that I’m getting a taste of the planet’s perspective, that the clouds aren’t moving at all, but instead I’m the one slowly rotating on my axis and spinning in space. The clouds stand still, while I roll backwards into the universe, dizziness setting in as this new orientation disorients me. Some moments that ...


Earth Etude for Elul 8: Le’ovdah ule’Shomrah

by Rabbi Louis Polisson and Gabriella Feingold The link below will play this beautiful song: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jkbJ2voDRh2VzOOkgBErU8tie1gTCFeU/view Le’ovdah ule’shomrah (x2) [Repeat x3] The storms, they crash, and the fires burn The rivers flood, and you don’t know where to turn Give me your hand And we’ll stand together For a better day Le’ovdah ule’shomrah (x2) We will serve the earth and ...