High Holidays Subscribe

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


Blogs

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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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 29: Hope Sprouting

by Rabbi Judith Kummer   ~ When the world is whirling and despair for the future begins to crowd in I turn to growing things, seeking hope.   The sweet potato plant cutting I made last week, Bereft of leaves but stuck into a vase to root anyway-- Just in case-- has now sprouted tiny purple and spring-green leaves, against all odds.   How did it know to grow, know it could grow?  What generative force propelled it forward into a future I sometimes cannot imagine?   In the garden Swaths of bright ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 28: Our Repentance, Prayer, and Deeds of Righteous Action Will Stop Climate Change

by Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith ~ This year, as the sun sets on Yom Kippur, our prayers will reach a pinnacle of intensity as we recite the UnetanehTokef prayer:  “On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed.  How many shall leave this world, and how many shall be born; who shall live and who shall die, who in the fullness of years and who before; who shall perish by fire and who by water, who by sword and who by a wild beast; who by famine and who by thirst…   But repentance, prayer, and deeds of righteous action, can remove the severity of the ...

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May it bee a sweet new year

"May you bee inscribed and sealed in the book of life for a good and sweet new year.  May all your offspring survive to see adulthood and may you successfully pollinate our crops so that we will have sufficient to eat." It's not that I'm actually suggesting this prayer is added to our Rosh HaShanah prayer books - heaven know the services last long enough already - but the words did spring to mind now that we are surrounded by pictures of fluffy cute bumblebees in the run up to the Jewish New Year. These yellow and black critters have become as much symbols of the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 27: Teshuvah in the Garden

by Maxine Lyons ~ My perennial love relationship with the earth is expressed most explicitly in tending my flower gardens. For me it is spiritual work, a way to respect the earth while feeling more mindful of how growth and change is an ongoing  process and mirrors the major themes of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The spiritual work of Teshuvah on the Yamim Norayim for me often centers on facing challenges, reviewing the aspects of my life that need changing and seeking new ways that I can re-commit myself to positive actions to bring about those changes. The ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 26: You Were Wrong

by Ben Weilerstein ~ I You were wrong about environmentalism, man, no that’s not what I think no, I’m not really an environmentalist because if I say I am you’ll say in your head I’m saying things you don’t think need to be said, out loud, at all so, no, I’m not an environmentalist and I don’t feel a rush of flight, of my heels lifting up off the ground when I recycle a plastic bottle not like I do when I recite over and over again until it doesn’t leave my head for years,  “stop! the! pipeline!” or something like that, y’know my voice ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 25: Bees, Fireflies, and Stars

by Ruah Swennerfelt ~ The bee was busy, humming around me and traveling from flower to flower, while I was sitting and weeding. I stopped my work to take a closer look and was amazed to see that, as the bee dove deep and touched a certain spot in the flower, the flower reached its stamen up to the bee’s butt and deposited some pollen. This interaction occurred again and again. I saw so clearly how the bee and the flower miraculously co-evolved for them each to survive. I stopped my weeding task and sat still, contemplating this complex planet of ours and the wonders ...

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