Clergy and Rabbinical Students Subscribe

A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology intended for use by Clergy and Rabbinical Students.


Blogs

Climate Change and Elections

Over the past few months, most of us have been inundated with television, internet, and paper advertisements in connection with the 2014 elections.  Certainly there are a variety of important issues, but unfortunately, even though the majority of Americans believe that climate change is real, a very minor percentage rank it as priority issue when making a decision how to vote (see http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/23/most-americans-believe-in-climate-change-but-give-it-low-priority/).  This is somewhat disheartening, and is an area where I believe Jewish ...

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Out of the ark and into the garden: The story of Noah in the Sabbatical year

There are three places in the Torah which talk about human beings and the animals – including wild animals – sharing one food supply. In Eden, in the ark during the flood, and in the Sabbatical year or Shmita. There’s a lot more to these stories, but you don’t really need to know much more to understand the basic message of the Torah. We lived with the wild animals once, rather than carving out separate spaces for us and our domesticated fellow travelers. According to the Torah, that is the real truth, and all the owning and property and buying and selling is an ...

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Making our Confession Real: Tools for On-going Teshuvah – Part 1

Just before Yom Kippur, I posted Al Chet - A Confessional for the Earth. So many are the deeds, misdeeds, and non-deeds in relation to the Earth for which we must confess, and then, hopefully, do teshuvah. With this post I begin a series of suggestions for how to implement changes that can help to make our confessional meaningful beyond its words, into actions. I begin with a response to this phrase: For the sin we have committed against You by believing we are doing enough,

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Confessions of a Shemitah Skeptic

Two weeks ago, on Rosh Hashanah, we marked not only the beginning of another year in the Jewish calendar, but the beginning of Shemitah, the Jewish sabbatical year.  Every seven years, Jewish farmers in Israel are commanded to let their lands lie fallow, not to plant, plow, prune trees or in any way improve the land, to harvest only what they can eat themselves (from perennial plants that do not need to be sown each year), and to leave the rest for whoever wants to pick them. In addition, at the end of the Shemitah year, we are commanded to release debts. Shemitah ...

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Cranberry Shabbat with Mayan Tikvah

Cranberry Shabbat  Saturday, October 25,  Raindate, November 1 Wachusett Reservoir, Boylston Join us for our annual Cranberry Shabbat. We will intermix songs and prayers with wild cranberry picking, and share a picnic lunch at the end. Please bring something to share and your own drinks and utensils. (Warm soup sounds good for a picnic in October!) Also bring containers for the cranberries. Most of our pickings will be given to a homeless shelter for their Thanksgiving dinner. There may be muddy spots, so be prepared footwear-wise, and it could be windy and chilly ...

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Sukkot of Shmita Resources and Events

SUKKOT AND SHMITA RESOURCES AND EVENTS for 2014-15 contributed by all the organizations and initiatives on “the Map” http://jewcology.org/map-of-initiatives/ Here’s a quick bit of Sukkot Torah to start us off: “The four species of the lulav represent the four types of ecosystems in the land of Israel: desert (date palm), hills (myrtle), river corridors (willow), and sh’feilah, the lowlands (etrog). Each species has to be fresh, with the very tips intact – they can’t be dried out, because they hold the water of last year’s rain. Together, they make a ...

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Al Chet – Confession for the Earth

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen   Eternal God, You created earth and heavens with mercy, and blew the breath of life into animals and humans. We were created amidst a world of wholeness, a world called "very good," pure and beautiful, but now your many works are being erased by us from the book of life. Not by our righteousness do we plead our prayers before You, Holy One of All, for we have sinned, we have despoiled, we have destroyed. And so we confess together our collective sins, and ask for forgiveness: For the sin which we have committed before You intenti...

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Outdoor High Holiday Services with Ma’yan Tikvah

    Outdoor High Holiday Services with Ma’yan Tikvah – A Wellspring of Hope   Rosh HaShanah Day 1, Thursday, September 25, 9:30 AM, Cedar Hill Camp 265 Beaver Street, Waltham, (accessible by MBTA bus) Click here to carpool to this service.   Rosh HaShanah Potluck Dinner and Shmita Seder, Thursday, September 25, 6:30 PM, Location TBD, in Wayland   Rosh HaShanah Day 2, Friday, September 26, 10 AM, Greenways Conservation Area, 60 Green Way, Wayland   Kol Nidre Service, Friday, October 3, 6:45 PM, Church of the Holy Spirit, 169 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 29- Shanah Tovah

photos by Gabi Mezger text by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen   May you find yourself in the new year constantly in motion...   surrounded by love like a seal in water...   reflecting light visible even in the light of those around you...     moving slowly when necessary, yet always steadily...   raging ferociously against the ills and injustices of the world...     with unending energy, unceasing in your efforts like the constantly moving waves...     zeroing in on what is most beautiful and most nourishing...   &nb...

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Climate on Rosh Hashanah – an existential threat to Israel

Protecting Israel doesn't just mean getting off of Arab petroleum, it means getting off of all petroleum. If you're not advocating for that, you might as well be calling for the destruction of the state.

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Earth Etude for Elul 28- Sweet and Sour Grapes

by Rabbi Robin Damsky I am in my favorite place at my favorite time: in the garden, in the morning, before the cars have started up, before the noise of lawnmowers and leaf blowers. The crickets are singing, the birds responding. The rising sun’s light filters through the leaves. A beginning.   It has been a tough year in the garden. An endless winter caused a late start and temperatures have been cooler than usual. A call from critter to critter that I cannot hear lets them know there is bounty on my corner. Maybe it’s because the peach tree lost its ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 26- We Will be the Change We Want to See

  We will be the change we want to see   I am squatting I am wringing laundry with my hands I am picking chunks of dirt from the soles of my feet   I am learning to smell the open sewer when I breathe in and out   I am walking I am jostling in a vikram, in a small car that must have the air conditioning switched to off in order to make it up the Himalayan Mountain where love calls   I am exhausted I am exhilarated I am joyful   I am fretting as we weave ourselves up the steep slope and you can ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 24- Elul Love and Joy

by Maggid David Arfa   I’d like to speak about Joy.  I know that Elul is upon us; a time for relentless self-reflection, spurred on by the blasts of shofar.  And yet, the rabbis in their complexity have added another dimension to Elul, Love. Remember the acronym for Elul?  It’s from the Song of Songs, Ani l’dodi v’dodi li - I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.  Reciprocal love is spiraling back and forth right here in Elul along with our lists of how we missed the mark.  Isn’t this worthy of attention?  What might it mean?   ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 23- Teshuva and Beauty

by Lois Rosenthal   The weekly Haftorah readings follow the story of the Israelites after they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land.  The writing styles vary greatly, from poetry to historical prose. Of particular note are writings from the time of the divided kingdom. Conquests of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah were seen by the prophets as divine punishment for failure to follow the Torah.  The writings from this time are full of harsh rebukes and biting metaphors. This is the type of reading found in the weeks ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 22- “Yeah, I Think We Should Kill Them All”

By Alexander Volfson I wasn't sure visiting Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial, would leave an impression on me; after all, I had heard it all before. Not only that I had absorbed the notion that all of humanity's reckless violent ways were behind us. Genocide, alas, is so common that it has its own major in college, which, unfortunately, does not fall under archaeology. Remarkably, this practice continues to this day. The typical story arc of the Holocaust goes like this: those awful Germans wanted to murder all the Jews and almost got away with it. ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 21- What Does Atoning and Returning to God Mean?

by Rabbi Judy Weiss   Ps. 27:1 "The Lord is my light and my rescue. Whom should I fear?" For an entire month before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we focus on atoning and returning to God. But what exactly, in real life terms, does atoning and returning to God mean? We plan our path to return by adding Psalm 27 to our daily prayers. This psalm repeatedly affirms hope in God. It ends with: Ps 27:14 "Let your heart be firm and bold, and hope for the Lord." As Robert Alter comments, the Psalm opens and closes with the same sentiment "It begins by affirming trust in God ...

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Earth Etude for Elul- Turning and Returning

by Daniel Kieval   What is the shape of time? This question may sound strange, but it actually guides us to understand the process of teshuvah, our great task at this time of year.   In one dimension, time is circular, repeating in endless cycles. “And the seasons they go round and round…” Every year in the natural calendar, the same seasonal patterns repeat at the same times. In the Jewish calendar, we observe the same holidays, rituals, and rhythms each year. In the process of teshuvah we return to our self, coming home to who we were before ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 19- Soul Accounting in the Year of Release

  by Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips   Ecology and economy, spirituality and social justice are directly connected in our Jewish values of heshbon (accountability).  Every time we open our wallets or check our bank balances, we face issues of heshbon — no less than when we search our souls (heshbon hanefesh) during this Season of Turning.   How are we “spending” each day of our lives?   The ancient sage Ben Zoma (Mishnah Avot 4:1) taught that the wise are those who learn from every person; the brave are those who control ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 17- Meditation on Elul

by Richard H. Schwartz   Elul is here. It represents a chance for heightened introspection, an opportunity to do teshuva and improve our lives, before the “Days of Awe,” the days of judgment, the “High holidays” of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The shofar is blown every morning (except on Shabbat) in synagogues during the month of Elul to awaken us from slumber, to remind us to consider where we are in our lives and to urge us to make positive changes.   How should we respond to Elul today? How should we respond when we hear reports almost ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 16- The Compost Bin in Our Hearts

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen   My compost bins are so much more than just a place where compost happens. The area beside the three wire and wood bins is place where I often feel my father’s spirit – he was raised on a farm, and though he became a professional, gardening was in his blood, and he spent much of his spare time in his garden and his orchard.   Yet, it is not just the reminders of my father or the sense of his hovering spirit that gives meaning to my compost bins. They are symbolic of so much – which may be more the truer reason that I think ...

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