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


Blogs

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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Earth Etude for Elul 24: What Is Remembering?

by Steph Zabel ~ What is remembering? As I’ve ponder this question over the past several days, the following thoughts have come to me… Remembering is a return to wholeness and truth: a wholeness of self, of spirit, of place in the world. When we remember who we are, why we are here, and how we relate to the world around us, these remembrances — these truths — infuse our lives with richness and radiate outwards to all the lives around us. I think that remembering must also paradoxically involve forgetting… For instance: When we remember that all ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 23: Tandem

by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman               Biking home on Orchard Street With the wind behind me, and Jamaica Pond Wrinkled and clear beyond the houses, A peregrine falcon winged down A feathered grace, gliding on my right.   For a breath, two, we flew side by side.   My grief, of late, has become more precise. There are worlds Beyond worlds, the eons will stretch Over bedrock and magma, blue and green. There is life and Life and God unending No matter what ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 22: Earth Rituals

by Molly Bajgot ~ This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resour...

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Earth Etude for Elul 21: The Food We Eat

by Leora Mallach ~ The severe drought affecting the northeast this growing season is causing farmers to apply for federal disaster relief (they must prove at least 30% crop loss to qualify). According to USDA data, Massachusetts topsoils were 25% drier in July 2016 than the 10 year mean, and there are mandatory water restrictions in many towns. The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), established at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1995, tells us: Drought is an insidious hazard of nature. It is often referred to as a "creeping phenomenon" and ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 20: An Old Problem

by Rabbi Jacob Siegel ~ I like to think of climate change as an old problem. True, human-made climate change and the potential it has to wreak disaster on our earth’s ecosystem are new and unprecedented. Every year extreme temperatures rise and extreme weather events become more common. These are challenges we have never faced. On the other hand, this is an old problem. We, as the Jewish people, know what it means to face a crisis of existence after a cataclysmic destructive act − the destruction of the Temple – which itself was destroyed because of a moral ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 19: Canopy to Heaven

  by Judith Felsen, Ph.D.   ~ There is a canopy of trees that open to the worlds above so those who come to rest beneath their arbor can transcend both worlds. Their trunks are pillars reaching heights we dream to touch and do not dare to try, and yet we come to rest and seek reprieve from weariness of life within their shelter. Can you see this canopy within yourself, its crown and all its glory yielding to still greater heights? This resting place was made for you and offers you its peace and wisdom in release from ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 17: Ode to Water

by Rabbi Laurie Gold ~ Walt Whitman’s beautiful poem, “The Voice of the Rain”, has always moved me. I hope you appreciate it, too. And who are thou? said I to the soft-falling shower, Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated: I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain, Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea, Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form’d, altogether changed and yet the same, I descend to have the drouths, atomies, dust-layers of the globe, And all that in them without me were seeds only, ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 16: Choosing Again to Be Good

by Joelle Novey ~I had the opportunity to sit with good folks of many faiths over the last year as we studied the words of Pope Francis’ Encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si.   Also this year, I had many moments of feeling overwhelmed by the bad things in our world that seem so much bigger than any one of us: the irrevocable and global suffering already being caused by our damaged climate; the harm being done to black bodies and spirits by the pernicious persistence of racism; the unrelenting meanness of this year’s presidential campaign rhetoric. W...

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Earth Etude for Elul 15: Water and Clarity of Mind

by Carol Reiman ~ The month of Elul comes round again, time to prepare for what comes next.  Yom Kippur melodies rise, twist, turn in on themselves.  Time to look in on my self, to find the familiar in a new way, to find my marker in the year. Drawn to water for clarity of mind, sitting by brook or sea returns me to calming rhythm. Rushing thoughts ebb and flow through my meditation. As the currents go their ways, all settles into place. In the water space, my boundaries blur; I am a dot in something big, feeling a depth within. Mixing old and new, ...

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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 13: A Tall Order

by Hattie Nestel ~ Creating the earth and all within was the gift of G-d. Opening our eyes to see the situation the world is in, and in particular the destruction of all G-d gave us, is the work of the people. How shall we begin the job of righting the wrongs done not only to the environment but to people dependent on the environment going through catastrophic changes. Daily we hear of forest fires burning thousands of acres and untold numbers of trees and wildlife. It takes thousands of firefighters to stop such fires. How can we imagine consequences of those ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 12: In the Shadow of the Rabbi’s Tree

by Hody Nemes ~ I spend my days entombed in a skyscraper in downtown Manhattan. I am writing these words in an eight-story apartment building. As the world urbanizes, and as the urban sprawls further afield, we spend our lives increasingly surrounded by the human-made – brilliant engineering, beautiful cityscapes, wonderful in their own way, yet sometimes painfully lacking.  A wonderful other sort of beauty, the emergent beauty of ecosystems -- of field, forest, coral reef -- is increasingly harder to find. Thanks to climate change and other massive societal ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 11: The Emergence of Aliveness

by Rabbi Natan Margalit, Ph.D. ~ On Rosh HaShana we say “hayom harat olam” – today is the birth of the world.  But it isn’t just a birthday that happened in the past. The daily morning blessings remind us that God creates the world anew every day.  So this High Holiday season is a time to celebrate a process of on-going creation. It brings up the question: what do we even mean today when we talk about God’s creation of the world? I certainly don’t mean a fundamentalist idea that God is a Being in the sky who spoke 5,777 years ago and created the world. ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 10: Re-remembering Who We Are

by Rabbi David Jaffe ~ Born at home on a Shabbat morning, my son spent his first few hours on this planet snuggling against his mother’s warm chest.  One of the most striking visual images of that first day was the moment our midwife cut the umbilical cord that physically connected mother and child. Until that moment I knew abstractly that we were all connected and even, at rare times of spiritual reverie, sensed this connection.  But here I saw it – as humans we were at one point actually physically connected to another human being, our life interdependent with ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 9: The Important Ten Percent

by Rabbi Judy Weiss ~ Rabbi Dr. Judith Hauptman, professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary, taught a passage from the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 54b-55a, in a study session for the Israeli Knesset in 2014 (listen to her re-teach it at Mechon Hadar, here). In this passage, the rabbis conclude that we're responsible for protesting when we observe someone doing something that is morally wrong. We must protest even if we think the offenders won't heed our warnings, and even if we fear being stigmatized for speaking out. The talmudic passage teaches that if ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 8: Like a River Flows

by Janna Diamond “I would like to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.” - John O’Donohue What happens when we begin to awaken to what is in front of us, around us, and meeting us? Whose truth are we waking up to? Is it the “reality” of the heat being turned up--literally, like the past summer with the highest temperatures on record--and also the speed at which crises are converging? Or is it actually a mirror for our ability to see, feel, and hear our own truth-telling? I’ve witnessed many conscious, politically ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 7: The Power of Limit-Making

by Maggid David Arfa “Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.” R. AJ Heschel A riddle:  Lily pads are doubling on a pond every day, Day 1- 1, Day 2- 2, Day 3- 4, Day 4- 8 and so on.  On day 30, the pond is filled.  On what day is the pond half filled? Answer: The 29th day.  And the 28th day the pond is only a quarter filled.  The 27th day? The 26th day?* ___________________________________________________ I am writing one week after the destruction that is Tisha B’av. It is now the time ...

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