High Holidays Subscribe

A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on high holidays.


Blogs

Earth Etude for Elul 21 – Eco-Kaddish

By Judith Felsen, Ph.D.~ Master of the Universe, Lord of All Worlds May I know You when I see a tree feel the wind gaze at stars touch the ground smile at flowers May I see You in all cycles of life through and around me May I sense You with every breath footstep, touch, thought and feeling knowing You are near and we are always One. This Elul may I join with You becoming One in nature’s presence never to leave. © Judith Felsen, Ph.D. Judith Felsen holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, certificates in ...

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Inconsistencies Between Animal-Based Diets and Rosh Hashanah-Related Teachings

Rosh Hashanah is the time when Jews take stock of their lives and consider new beginnings. Perhaps the most significant and meaningful change that Jews should consider this year is a shift away from diets that have been having devastating effects on human health and the health of our increasingly imperiled planet. While many Jews seem to feel that the holiday's celebration can be enhanced by the consumption of chopped liver, gefilte fish, chicken soup, and roast chicken, there are many inconsistencies between the values of Rosh Hashanah and the realities of animal-cente...

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Earth Etude for Elul 20 – In the Hands of Billionaires

by Mirele B. Goldsmith, Ph.D.~ Recently I had the opportunity to hear a presentation about the UN Sustainable Development Goals by Jeffrey Sachs, the world’s best-known economist. Sachs emphasized that poverty and climate change are interrelated. He focused on the financial cost of a “just transition” to a world of decent livelihoods and renewable energy for all. Sachs explained that the cost of this transition could easily be financed if the world’s 2,043 billionaires contributed a mere 3% of their annual income. I find this analysis to be very encour...

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Earth Etude for Elul 19 – Keeping Agreements as a Spiritual Practice

by Rabbi David Jaffe~ I am a people pleaser. On the surface that may sound just fine. I get along well with people, care about people and want to give them what they want. But the motivations for my people pleasing reveal its dark underside. I don’t like conflict, so I will do whatever is necessary to make sure people like me. For example, I will say yes to things I know I will never do, sacrificing my integrity to avoid the momentary discomfort and hard feelings of saying no. I am not sharing this publicaly to self-flagellate. Rather, my own condition is ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 18 – Searching for the Tree of Heaven

by Rachel Aronson~ Despite its nickname, “the tree of heaven,” the ailanthus is not universally beloved. It is not planted in garden beds, on streets, or in parks. There are 22 types of permitted street trees in New York City, where I live, and the Tree of Heaven is not one of them. The Tree of Heaven is most famous for being the titular Tree that grows in Brooklyn: “There's a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded-up ...

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Rosh Hashanah: A Time to Start Shifting Our Imperiled Planet Onto a Sustainable Path

Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of the creation of the world, is a good time to assess how we are doing in fulfilling our mandated role of being co-workers with God in preserving the environment. When God created the world, He was able to say, "It is very good." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in harmony as God had planned, the waters were clean, and the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today? What must God think when the rain God provided to nourish our crops is often acid rain, due to the many chemicals emitted into the air by industries and ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 17 – Spiritual Charity and the Tale of Two Seas

 by Rabbi Ziona Zelazo~ This post emerged during a summer stay in Israel. I heard the story from my friend Dalia, about her nephew, who got killed in a terrorist attack. In his death he donated his organs to save lives. And so he already enabled a man to regain his vision with the donated retina. I was thinking how amazing it is to be able to give to others. But in particular, I was thinking that there is no one way to give to others. People can choose to be givers in many shapes and forms. And here is another Israeli hint for the idea of giving: There are two ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 16 – Ram in the Bushes

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ And it came to pass after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham;” and he said, “Hineni, here I am.” And he said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you.” (Gen. 22:1-2) We are being tested.  But not by G!d.  We are being tested by the world in which we live.  We are being tested by the actions of humans past and present.  We are being tested by the changing ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 15 – Wasting Food

by Scott Lewis, Ph.D. ~When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. (Deuteronomy 20:19) The mitzvah of Bal Taschit, do not waste, helps frame Jewish environmental concerns. While most Jewish environmental activists recognize the importance of Bal Taschit for prohibiting wasting energy and polluting the earth, we might easily overlook the commandment’s important connections to Food Waste. Our sages ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 14 – Time to Rest

by Tali Anisfeld~  Night summoned day again this morning, and the dawn told me to rest. This surprised me. Isn’t it the setting sun – rather than its rising companion – that usually coaxes us into rest?  But then again, maybe she was hinting at something about rest that comes with motion (the reach and stretch of the day), rather than with stillness (the hushed retreat of night). It is time to rest; it is time to be awoken in prayer and to laugh with the tickling grasses. To climb and jump and run and let the sweat of your body mix with the rain of the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 13 – Displaced Trash

by Nicci Meadow Misplaced anger causes me to displace trash from where I find it to another place where it ought not to be; Then, picturing it clearly, startles me, helping me to see what I too have become, acting out unintentionally or carelessly. Not very Jewish or Buddhist of me. It's time for a change.   Nicci Meadow is a mother, artist-photographer, "do-gooder" and seeker.  www.niccimeadow.com.

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Earth Etude for Elul 12- Returning to Diversity

by Rabbi Michael Cohen~ The opening chapters of Genesis not only include the account of the creation of the earth but over and over tell us of the importance of diversity. All of creation is called "good," reminding us of the value of the multiplicity of the world that we live in. The text also teaches us, by describing everything that is created before humans as "good," that all things have intrinsic value in and of themselves beyond any value that we may place on them. Once humans are created, "very good" is the adjective applied by the text. An anthropocentric ...

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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 social, economic and spiritual ethic that guides our lives. In the biblical era, this was evident, and the air of the ...

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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 connection and Your care through deserts now. This Elul may we see You within all shadow and not be blinded ...

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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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An Israeli Orthodox Rabbi’s Challenge to the Jewish Establishment

The Problem and Future of True Halachah Part One of four parts, by Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo. Excerpts from Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage. Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Urim Publications, Jerusalem, New York, August 2017. {Soon to be published.] The Problem It is time to start thinking big about Halacha. Great opportunities are awaiting us and too much is at stake to let them pass by. For too long, Halacha has been jailed in compartmentalized and awkward boxes. It is time to liberate it. Most religious Jews are not ...

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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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Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism

Yom Kippur, the culmination of the Aseret Y’mei Teshuva (the Ten Days of Penitence) that begins on Rosh Hashanah, is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. On this day, Jews refrain completely from consuming food and water and spend many hours in synagogues, examining their deeds, vowing to repent of past transgressions, and seeking God’s blessings for a coming year of good health and positive outcomes. Yet, after Yom Kippur, most Jews return to animal-based diets that are arguably inconsistent with the values of Yom Kippur and Judaism in general. Please consider: ...

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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 are all interconnected    and when you cry out for help may your prayer be ...

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