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A selection of etudes for the month of Elul highlighting the the call to personal and community changes in preparation for the High Holidays.


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 carbon dioxide is rising and with it the temperature in the air and in the oceans. She showed me how the waters are ...

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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 still water meandering between wooded banks. Turning, I race the river. Feet pound on hard sand paths, ...

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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 future. It’s about living on the earth as an interconnected whole. For me, this is the main message of the High Holy ...

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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 vulnerable to the predations of human greed, violence, and recklessness. And yet I have got the analogy turned inside-out ...

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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 up. An alarm clock for our souls. For every morning, the Sun rises. Sometimes I’d like to hit snooze, but Ruach ...

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Update on the Major Effort to Restore and Transform the Ancient New Year for Animals

In an effort to restore the ancient New Year for Animals and to transform it into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism's teachings on compassion to animals and how far current realities are from these teachings, the message below has been sent to many rabbis and other influential Jews. please help by sharing the message widely. Many thanks. ----------- Dear Rabbi, Please let us know if you are willing to sign the message below that encourages the restoration of the ancient New Year for Animals and its transformation into a day devoted to increasing ...

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Earth Etudes for Elul: A Collection of Meaningful Ways to Enrich Our Lives

by Susan Levine ~ It’s not too late to read the thought-provoking Earth Etudes for the month of Elul. Now is a good time to think about our lives and what matters: our family, our friends, this Earth we call our home and all the other people and animals who share it with us. How can we take care of our health and work towards a peaceful and sustainable future for our children? A special thank you to Rabbi Katy Z. Allen for organizing this project and to our contributing writers with their meaningful essays, poems and thoughts. You can read them here whenever ...

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Our Earth Etudes for Elul: Thank you to our contributors!

Thank you!

By Susan Levine A special thank you to Rabbi Katy Z. Allen for organizing this project and to our contributing writers with their meaningful essays, poems and thoughts. Elul is the month that leads up to Rosh Hashanah, but these Earth Etudes are insightful windows into the meaning of life and the interconnection between our lives, our Earth and our spiritual existence at any time.  ~ Etude Elul 1 by Andy Oram: Save the Earth to Save Our children. Read more... ~ Etude Elul 2 by Rabbi Robin Damsky: Oh Deer What Can the Matter Be? Read more… ~ Etude Elul 3 by ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 14: Paradox

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen ~ An individual's ability to accurately perceive changes in the rate of violence in the world over human history is near to impossible. Truly understanding global fluctuations in violence requires knowledge of events over such a vast breadth of space and time that it is essentially beyond a human's ability to comprehend. Which of course doesn't stop us from trying. Steven Pinker has tackled the concept, and he reports us that violence in the world has been going down steadily over the millennia, the centuries, and the decades. Pinker has ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 3: G-d’s Might, Detroit, and Coming Back to Life

by Moshe Givental ~ Every year on Tisha b’Av we begin a 7-week journey of preparation for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Like most significant experiences in life, for the Jewish Holy Days to have the potential for transformation, they require preparation. So we started a few weeks ago by looking at the broken-ness of our physical, ethical, and spiritual worlds signified by Tisha b’Av, moved towards the hope of a world filled with love 6-days later at Tu b’Av, and are now in the midst of a month of working on Heshbon HaNefesh (our soul accounting), reflecting on ...

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