Earth Etude for Elul 17: The Birds

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein

“Return again. Return again.

Return to the land of our soul.”[1]

The liturgy sings.

I hear it in my head.

This is the season of returning.


It’s quiet here.


A steaming cup of coffee,

Billowing clouds of whipped cream.

We thought it would be different by now.

Stay at home. Wear a mask. Wash your hands.
No guests for Shabbat dinner.




It’s quiet. So very quiet.

Too quiet.

And lonely.


Ready to begin my morning,


I choose a book

Ready to read,

I open the back door,

Coffee cup and book in hand.

Ready to sit on the deck.


The music greets me.

It is anything but quiet

While the world was healing,

The birds returned:

Gold finches, cardinals, robins, blue jays,

Canada geese, blue heron, sandhill crane.


A cacophony of color and sound.

They are the guests for New Year.

Bringing hope.

We can return too.

[1] Neshama Carlebach,

Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein is the rabbi of Congregation Kneseth Israel in Elgin, IL. She blogs as the Energizer Rabbi,, She enjoys watching the birds on her deck overlooking a retaining pond (that is dangerously low with the severe drought in Northern Illinois this year) or at her dentist’s office where she gratefully watches the birds he feeds. She has noticed that the birds are more prevalent providing a noisy din during the pandemic. She hopes that the pandemic has helped the earth itself to heal, and for us to reset our priorities, living a more authentic life. She is a recipient of a Scientists in the Synagogue grant for bringing science and Torah to our families in a program called “Parsha and Planets on the Prairie.”

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