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


Blogs

Earth Etude for Elul 12 – The Sh’ma

The Sh’ma, A Jewish Invocation of the Unity: An Interpretation for the 21st Century by Rabbi Arthur Waskow~ [This might best be recited paragraph by paragraph, each one read by a member of the community until the last line, which everyone says together.] Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el – Hush’sh’sh and Listen, You Godwrestlers – Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh To hear -- YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh/ Yahhhhhh. Hear in the stillness the still silent voice, The silent breathing that intertwines life; YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh / Yahhhh elohenu B...

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Earth Etude for Elul 11 – Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

by Hannah Henza~  I am sitting by a lake today looking out over a vast body of water and I find balance here. There is little cell-service; there is much sunlight. There are very large houses and fast-moving boats; there are small cottages and self-propelled craft. This lake is warmed both by the sun and the nuclear power plant at its base; it was created by the contours of the land and the dam at its head. This lake is home to countless species of wildlife, fish, birds, and humans. Today we are constantly trying to get ahead, evolve, improve, dominate, conquer. At ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 10 – People’s Climate March 2017

by Thea Iberall~ I bought my bus ticket a month early because I knew I had to go to the second People’s Climate March. I remember the day the first one occurred. I was giving a workshop in California on ‘what’s your carbon footprint?’ I was telling my audience how we all have to stop living as if we had two or three planets at our disposal. Deep down, I wanted to be at the march. This time I am, in Washington, DC. The motto of the march seems to be, ‘For everything to change, we need everyone.’ But not everyone I know is onboard: some people are more ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 8 – The Silence of the Frogs: Environmental Confession

by Rabbi Lawrence Troster~ Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are traditionally called the Ten Days of Repentance. Part of the Jewish concept of repentance is the act of confession, the Vidui. We confess publicly rather than privately, and in general terms rather than in specifics, because it allows everyone to confess without shame or embarrassment. It also binds the sins of one person to that of the whole community so that all take responsibility. While Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) said that we are only to confess in specific terms for sins between one person and ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 7 – So Many Ways to Repair the World

by Mirele B. Goldsmith~ The reality of climate change and other environmental problems weigh on me all year long. But as Yom Kippur approaches my thoughts turn more and more to my own responsibility.  During this past year did I do enough?  Was I effective in what I did?  And most troubling of all, did I make the right choices about where to invest my efforts? An answer to this question came to me this summer when I participated in the Green Attica Conference.  The conference was convened by Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, who is ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 6 – Once Upon a Time I Had a Garden

by Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum~ Once upon a time I had a garden. I must have been inspired by reading The Good Earth to plunge a spade into the unyielding, aptly named, Rockland soil. But, after moving rocks, boulders and many less natural obstacles, I protected the small plot and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts and 5 slender corn seedlings. As the spring turned to summer and blossoms turned to the beginnings of identifiable vegetables, I realized that I was going to share the bounty with a pudgy and persistent woodchuck, some opportunistic rabbits, ravening ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 5 – In Regard to Feathers

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ For many years I collected feathers. Walking along the trails, near my home or far away, whenever I spotted a feather, I brought it home. Together with rocks, shells, bits of wood, and other nature memorabilia, they helped to create a sense of the outdoors inside. The feathers meant a lot to me. Then one day, while trying to identify a feather my granddaughter had found, I stumbled inadvertently across a government website with information about feathers. I learned that it is illegal in the United States to collect feathers. The reason ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 4 – Finding Quiet for Reflection

by Hazzan Shoshana Brown~ Although Psalm 130 can be recited all year long, it is especially appropriate for the season of introspection and repentance, speaking as it does of waiting and watching for the dawn. I have chosen photos that look up to the hills "out of the depths," as the psalmist says, and also out at the sea, or at the early moments of the rising sun, or at its setting. They are mostly lonely pictures, since it is in quiet and reflection that we search our souls, but since we are often most aware of God when we behold God's beauty in creation, I have ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 3 – Environmental Etude

by Rabbi Sam Yolen~ At this point in time, to write something about the environment has to be more of a “in commemoration of” than a “dedicated to” exercise. We’ve been standing at the juncture of run-away environmental change for longer than I can remember, and the patience of the Earth to absorb our species’ immaturity has indeed turned into vengeance. From fracking the Earth’s crust to clear cutting forests, we’ve done things that most ancient cultures would find unfathomable -- real crimes against the future of humanity. The biblical truth that ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 2 – Twilight

by Carol C. Reiman~ Sky still blue, Eyes still brown-- Colors Fading. ~ Leaf veins branch, Hand veins thin-- Skin Cascading. ~ What time we have; Have we time-- To laugh in sync, While eyes dim. ~ Leaves dry, Sweep away; Book of Life Unfurls pages. ~ Where the path? Circling, thin, Narrowing As the fog sets in. ~ The blue, The eyes, Change color, Go. ~ The sun Goes on Beyond Our line Of sight. ~ To other Realms In other Forms. ~ Our day, Our year, Teaching, Thought All Turn... Carol C. Reiman is out of library work into ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 1 – A Pilgrimage to Honor the Earth

by Rabbi Moshe Givental~ Over a decade ago now, I was sitting in a Parshah HaShavua (weekly Torah Portion) class and my teacher asked the following question: Why are human beings called ADAM in our holy Torah? ADAMAH, after all, is our Hebrew word for the Earth. So ADAM would mean something like Earth-ling. However, human beings are no more from the earth than any other life on our majestic planet. When we name something, we pick a name to highlight some unique quality of that being before us. Names are not chosen at random. Rabbi Yehoshua Karsh then paused for a  ...

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Spring, the Gift of Abundance, and New Membership Offerings!

This post originally appeared at: http://organictorah.org/spring-and-the-gift-of-abundance/ As we start this new time of beginnings, we’re very excited to announce the new offerings for Organic Torah membership for the coming year 2018 – 2019. For Individual Memberships we’re very proud to offer a monthly translation/commentary by Rabbi Margalit, in addition to regular webinars and discounts. Our Synagogue Membership has also expanded to include an Organic Torah private seminar series just for your synagogue. If your synagogue would like to bring Rabbi ...

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This Mother’s Day Be Good to Mother Earth.

Here are ways you can be “greener” for Mother’s Day and going forward: Reduce. Try to buy less — especially those things that have a negative impact on the environment, such as plastic tableware if you have company coming for Mother’s Day dinner. Reduce your energy needs. Winter is finally over and it’s warmer inside and out. Open your windows and let the fresh air in. If it is really hot, set your thermostat no higher than 78°F (26°C) when you are home and higher when you are away (information from the U.S. Department of Energy). A programmable ...

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No Other Gods: The Politics of the Ten Commandments

A Book Review of No Other Gods: The Politics of the Ten Commandments By Ana Levy-Lyons Published by  Center Street/Hachette 2018 Reviewed by Rabbi Natan Margalit, Organic Torah Originally published in Tikkun Magazine (link) It is evident from the first page that this book is swimming against the current in our contemporary political and spiritual landscape. Author Ana Levy-Lyons tells a story in her preface about how one of her teachers back in high school liked to entertain the kids by listing oxymorons: pretty ugly, jumbo shrimp, etc, and he sometimes ...

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Purim: The Dangerous Holiday

Purim is a dangerous holiday. That’s probably why we in the Jewish community often trivialize it and pretend it’s just a kid’s holiday where the children dress up like Mordechai and Esther and we eat hamentashen and everyone has a nice time. We may be afraid to see what it is really saying to us. There is a lot of violence in the Purim story: the Scroll of Esther (in Hebrew, Megillat Esther) includes the king forcing his queen, Vashti, to either dance naked or be killed or exiled; there is evil Haman’s threat to wipe out the Jews of Persia; and there is also the ...

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The Magic of Emergence

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” is an old adage, but it could be one of the most important keys to a healthy, meaningful life. People yearn to be a part of something. When we are a part of something, we feel whole. When we see how things connect and relate to form a whole, they make sense and resonate: they come alive. In 1973 I arrived at Camp Swig, a Reform Jewish summer camp in Big Basin, California as a shy 15 year old kid from Hawai`i. My parents were New York Jewish intellectuals who moved to Hawai`i when I was a baby. They wanted nothing more ...

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My Green New Year’s Resolutions

I want to be "greener" this year and here are my plans: Resolution #1: Reduce. I am going to buy less — especially those things that have a negative impact on the environment, such as plastic tableware when I have company coming for dinner. I am also going to reduce my energy needs. I am going to wear more layers of clothing at home this winter, for example, so I can lower my thermostat without feeling cold. Resolution #2: Reuse. When we go out to eat, I am going to try to bring my own containers to take home the leftovers. Styrofoam can take hundreds of ...

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The Force of Our Interconnectedness

I just saw the latest Star Wars movie with my family. It was very exciting and entertaining. But beyond that, I've always felt that the amazing popularity of the Star Wars series has been in part because it touches a spiritual nerve in moderns in a way that most of our places of worship only hope to achieve. The central premise of Star Wars is that there is an energy that connects us all, an energy that surrounds and infuses all life and creates the fabric of the universe. When we recognize that inter-connecting energy, when we tap into it, we can harness great power for ...

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Two Examples, Two Paths

Take a good look at American society today and you see both dysfunctional, shortsighted, thinking, and, if you look, you can see a new kind of thinking that takes the whole picture into account. On the one hand we have the heartbreaking and sickening epidemic of mass shootings that is only getting worse in our country today. You would think that this would now, finally, bring about an awakening to the well documented conclusion that we need better laws to control the number of guns and who wields them. The evidence is clear: The U.S. has many more mass shootings than other ...

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Looking to the Sky, Remembering Our Ideals

by Rabbi Natan Margalit ~Recently, I read an article in the New York Times Magazine that talked about the way that people do or say things, say, supporting a good cause or political opinion, not because they really believe in it, but because they want to signal to their social network that they are virtuous. Apparently, there is a popular new label for this behavior: “virtue signaling.” The author reports that this term is most often used by people on the right against people on the left (“Virtue Signaling Isn’t the Problem. Not Believing One Another Is,” ...

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