Spirituality Subscribe

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


Blogs

Earth Etude for Elul 19–Elul: The Month for Climate Action

  by David Krantz~ Tekiah! In Elul, we hear the call for the quintessential sound of the shofar every morning. It’s meant as a daily wake-up call to action. Perhaps appropriately, the word Tekiah itself also means “disaster.” Day after day in Elul, the shofar shouts: “Disaster! Act now!” Just as an alarm clock gives us notice that we have to get to work, the shofar reminds us that time marches onward and that our mistakes won’t correct themselves. We must actively engage with the world to repair it and our relationships with each other. The ...

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My articles on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot

     I am posting this material involving articles related to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot relatively early for the following reasons: 1 I hope that readers will use the material to create their own articles and letters and/or talking points for radio call-in programs and for other activities; 2 I plan to send the material to the Jewish media soon, and would welcome any suggestions you might have for improvements; 3 I often receive messages re kapporot (kapporus) ceremonies when it is too late to respond effectively, so I wanted the articles on that ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 18

Awareness of Holiness: Re-enchantment with the World and Restitution by Renee Shapiro~ A few years ago I did a short, pithy d’var Torah with my photos based on a couple of lines from a portion I was learning. The lines are Exodus/Shemot 3:4-5. 4.When YHWH saw that he had turned aside to see, God called out to him out of the midst of the bush, He said Moshe! Moshe! He said, here I am.  5. He said: Do not come near to here, put off your sandal from your foot—for the place on which you stand—it is holy ground (Everett Fox translation) It strikes me that the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 17 – Tree Speaking

by Rabbi Jill Hammer~ The trees are speaking with one another. The trees are speaking with all creatures… and all the conversations of living things are about the earth.  (Genesis Rabbah 13:2) Trees have been speaking with me since I was a child, and each tree speaks in its own way. The pine shelters; the willow bends in the wind; the birch has its cool gracefulness. The sycamore sheds its bark in July; the oaks drop their acorns in autumn; the maple leaks sap in February. The cherry, pear and apple blossoms make spring an enchanted kingdom. My father’s chestnut ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 16 – Boggled by Bottles

by Rabbi Suri Krieger~ Today, driving home from the gorgeous flower-full Massachusetts Horticulture Society in Wellesley, I had to swerve on the road three times… to avoid plastic bottles thrown out on the highway. It boggles my mind that the bottle dilemma is still one of the most abusive forms of earth erosion we are guilty of. Bottles were one of the first recycle items to be tackled, and yes… we can see recycle bins everywhere now. But the fact that we even have those bins, indicates how drastically we have missed the point. The Recycle, Reuse, Reduce trilogy is ...

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My Two Environmental Essays Related to the Hebrew Month of Elul

Elul: A Time to Start Shifting Our Imperiled Planet onto a Sustainable Path      Elul is here. It represents an opportunity for heightened introspection, a chance to consider teshuva, changes in 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 consider positive changes.      How should we respond to Elul ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 15 – Shema: Listen to, and do for, the Earth

by Joan Rachlin~ During Elul, the month of reflection and spiritual return, or t’shuvah, I am working to deepen my connection to the earth so that I can in turn strengthen my efforts to protect it. I want to listen to and observe nature in a more intentional way and to encourage others to do the same. We all know how to observe nature, but how—and why—should we listen to it as well? I want to both watch and listen to the miracle that is nature so that I can better understand what we have, stop taking those gifts for granted, and to become more aware of ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 14 – The Earth Is on Fire — And the Torah Tells Us What to Do About It

by Jeffrey Cohan- This summer, our precious Earth has been burning. Catastrophic wildfires have ravaged their way across several California counties. One of the fires is the largest ever in the state. In Colorado, four massive wildfires have consumed a total of almost 250,000 acres. All four rank among the Top 10 largest conflagrations in the state’s history. Even in Sweden, of all places, 50 wildfires have broke out this summer, including at least one above the Arctic Circle. Sweden is so unaccustomed to such calamities, the country doesn’t own a ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 13 – Stress Less, Savor More

by Rabbi Judy Kummer~ Work. Work hard. Work well, do well, do excellent work. Do ONLY excellent work.  These are some of the values with which I was raised, and I know I am not alone in this.  Our communities flourish because of the hard work of individuals. I know these values of working hard have guided me well in life.  I think often of my beloved grandmother who daily lived her values that one should never rest until one’s work has been completed.   And yet, after a recent period of serious overwork, I found myself wondering if it might be possible to ...

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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 9 – Stardust Matter

by Chaplain Leslie Schotz~ Soul traveling bodies having a human experience reflect upon ourselves in the scheme of life amidst all the planet dwellers gazing, wondering, surviving, awakening to the bitter pollution illness.   As we realize our sickness may the antidote seep into our being in time to honor and heal our home Earth.   Chaplain Rabbi Dr Leslie Schotz received her Doctor of Ministry in Multifaith Studies and is an ordained Spiritual Director. 

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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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