by Rabbi Suri Levow Krieger
Hut in Alaska surrounded by flowers.
I expected to be awed by the Glaciers. I was not disappointed.
I anticipated being enLightened by 22 consecutive hours of sunlight. It was outstanding.
What I did not expect, was day after day of 80 degree weather. And the following week… Anchorage registered 90 degrees as a massive ‘heat dome’ hovered over the city. This topped the previous record set at Anchorage International Airport of 85 degrees on June 14, 1969.
It is good news for the Flora and Fauna! ...
by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein
~ I live on the prairie. In the Prairie State of Illinois. On a summer’s day with large clouds towering over the cornfields, it is spectacular. Awe-inspiring. I remember to be grateful.
For several decades, I have followed
the practice of Rabbi Everett Gendler of planting winter wheat, rye or barley at Sukkot and
harvesting it during the counting of the Omer, the 50 days between Passover and
Shavuot. I have done this with generations of Hebrew School students and their
parents. It roots the Jewish year in the agricultural cycle. ...
by Rabbi Katy Allen
What if...the feelings we
have when we pass through...zones of destruction are actually arising from the
land itself? What if it is the grief of the forest registering in our bodies
and psyches—the sorrow of the redwoods, voles, sorrel, ferns, owls, and deer,
all those who lost their homes and lives as a result of this plunder of living
beings? What if we are not separate from the world at all? It is our spiritual
responsibility to acknowledge these losses. What if this is the anima
mundi, the soul of the world, weeping through us? We know ...
by Rabbi Mike Comins
~ In order to acquire wisdom and Torah, one must make oneself hefker, open and abandoned, like this desert. (BaMidbar Rabbah 1)
Of the many
reasons our tradition offers for why the Torah was given at Sinai, one is
particularly relevant for Elul. The desert is an optimal environment to do Teshuvah. More than that. To reach our
full potential, we are advised to become like the desert.
Why does the
desert have the power to change us?
foremost, the desert is a dangerous place. Like Hagar1 or Elijah2,
you can easily lose the way, ...
by Joan Rachlin
~The temperatures, sun, moon, breezes, trees, grasses, plants, and flowers all signal that change is in the air. We’re moving into a new season and a new month, Elul, with its promise of transformation and its possibility of renewal.
Elul is when we can hit the reset button and
begin again. Sounds easy, but we cannot appeal to the “better angels of our
nature” without engaging in Teshuvah, or “return.” There are many
interpretations of what “return” means in this context but, in the end, each of
us must choose our own ...
by Nyanna S. Tobin
Slow food folding like a snail over her slime.
I remember my Dad in his slow down days.
Even his deep lined smile crept slowly over his face.
A thought made Jack Benny sound like a whirled-gig.
Perhaps my Dad was waiting for his angel,
While she was waiting for him to scream her name.
And he never did.
He seemed to be a life-long prisoner of Fear.
But my escape from that realm,
Invited me to gaze around the corner
To play hide-and-seek at ...
by Rabbi Robin Damsky
A local toad finds a home in the pot of a rooting African violet (yes, the leaf got displaced).
~It’s been a year of change. Not just a move, but a move to a new climate zone and a very new culture. I moved from outside Chicago to Durham, NC, the South. The trees here are glorious – pines everywhere, wisteria in April blooming in the wild, crepe myrtle in vivid fuchsia and pale pastels just now. It’s hot. Average days are in the 90s and one can almost swim in the humidity. A long growing season brought daffodils in February, while I just ...
by Daniel Kieval
To listen or join in prayer:
This is the time for us to finally come home
This is the time to know that we are not alone
To find our selves in a deep ancient web
This is the time to be embraced by the land
Kissed by oceans, taken by the hand
Rooted down into this deep ancient web
Receive us now
Retrieve us now
Redeem us now
This is the way that we awake from a dream
Wander out into life's ever-flowing stream
Listen now to the deep ancient web
This is the place that gave birth to us in love We are the children that Earth is dreaming ...
T'shuvah is an answer.
by Andy Oram
~ At High Holidays we speak intently and repeatedly of T’shuvah (תשובה), by which we mean repentance or returning to God. T'shuvah does mean "return", but it also means "answer." We have to answer both God's and a world that is dying before our eyes.
How can we answer? How can we approach the
High Holidays with the urgency demanded us of from the modern world? In these
times of imminent destruction, we also seek an answer to our plea for
deliverance. And when seeking answers, Jews turn back to the riches of Torah.
by Rabbi Dorit Edut
“Ma rabu ma’asecha, Adonai; kulam b’hochma aseeta; malu ha-aretz kinyanecha-- How numerous are Your works, O Lord; with wisdom You fashioned them all; the earth abounds with Your creations!”
from the weekday morning blessings before the Shema prayer, were on my lips
constantly as I traveled through “God’s Art Museum” in Zion National Park and
Bryce Canyon this summer. At every turn was another gasp at an amazing sight –
truly photographers’ and artists’ paradise! Using only wind, water, red
sandstone, white ...
by Judith Felsen, Ph.D.
tiny patch of heaven
nestled amidst brick and stone;
kales and chards salute the sky
bok choy sentry elegant,
celery, parsleys hold court
while lettuce species dance,
each offering a breath of life
oxygen of garden’s greens
lungs spared inhale
may urban gardens grace this world,
edible planted prayers of green
reviving life and city air;
blessing ground and all
tiny patch of heaven
nestled amidst brick and stone;
kales and chards salute the sky
bok choy sentry elegant,
by Deborah Nam-Krane
~ In 2017, I heard LaDonna Redmond, founder of the Campaign for Food Justice Now, speak at the Annual Gardener’s Gathering in Boston. An organizer working at the crossroads of food justice and racial equality, she laid out a familiar story: her child was allergic and/or sensitive to many foods, but to provide him with the food he needed, Redmond had to step out of her neighborhood because fresh fruits and vegetables weren’t available there. She started a community garden and cooperative, and each step in helping her family and community be ...
by Carol C. Reiman
~ She holds us
in her arms,
with star sparkle
song of rippling water
She tells us our story,
in the loam of her heart,
rains and heat,
into the family
of breezes, currents, creatures—
those like us
Movement in spurts,
creeping, climbing, sliding,
changing skins and gestures,
while we grow
along with our
earth siblings, cousins,
at pause and in dance,
in mutual ...
by Richard H Schwartz
As the world spirals toward a climate catastrophe, the current Hebrew month of Elul again provides time for heightened introspection, a chance to do t’shuvah (repentance), to improve our lives and our involvements, before the “Days of Awe,” the days of judgment, the “High Holidays” of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
How should we respond to Elul today? How should we respond to the current reports of dire warnings and other environmental threats to humanity, including:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organis...
by Susie Davidson
Photos (from top left clockwise): Louisiana Bayou from Amtrak; Maine foliage; Hills of Mexico, Del Rio Texas; Susie Davidson at El Paso Crossing; Banyan tree, Miami, FL.
~ Over the past year, I've had many unforgettable experiences in different countries and regions, within amazing, varied landscapes. There is nothing like discovering and living in a new environment. The languages, cultures, geography, and people are so different. However, it is within these strange surroundings that I have conversely noticed what is similar. There are common ...
by Maxine Lyons
~ Growth takes many forms and like other Jewish seekers, I rely on the life-cycle events to provide a framework for growth, celebrating nature and new life, knowing that to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. I started this year’s Elul preparation in June, with conscious gratitude for the experience of becoming a grandmother for the first time in my 70’s and ready to welcome a second grandbaby due to arrive before Rosh Hashanah.
Through my work as a professional educator with older adults for
by Nakhie Faynshteyn
~ God I am your sapling
Let me take in your sunlightso that I may nourish my leavesAnd grow vibrant and green
Let me take in your rainsand let them soak into my roots beneath the ground
I will be nimble and bendMy branches will stretch and sprout budsWhile my roots hold me firm and planted
God I am your sapling
Nakhie Faynshteyn is a first generation immigrant from Odessa, Ukraine who lives in the Fenway area in Boston. He is as climate and social justice activist working with the Sunrise Movement, Kavod and Boston Workmen’s Circle ...
by Dr. Karen I. Shragg
~ Euphemisms have always hurt us. Jews have had their ears tuned in to anti-Semitic language for a long, long time and know when someone is trying to paint us in a negative picture while couching it in coded language.
But there is a new way that euphemisms are hurting the whole
planet and its future. Recently the forecast of species extinctions and climate
change have alarmed us and sent us running to our recycle bins, organic food
and if we have time, to our laptops to write letters to the editor about the
evils of using pesticides. We hear ...
by Rabbi Greg Hersh
~ Elul is the time of year where we can take a break from our routine and set ourselves on a path of returning to our purest and best selves. For many Jewish people, this involves getting dressed up and attending long services. In addition to (or in lieu of) those experiences, we can also accomplish these annual goals by stepping into the natural world, just like our teacher, Moses.
One day, Moses was doing his usual work of tending Jethro’s
flock, when he decided to “turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the
bush is not burnt. And ...
by Thea Iberall
~ I had a medical emergency. The room felt like the galley of a sinking ship and I was lurching against the walls. The doctor said my heart had become irregular. He handed me blood thinners and I wanted to run away. My mind flooded with trying to figure out what to do. His western medicine uses empirically-based tools and years of rigorous scientific testing. It’s ingrained into us to believe doctors. But this medicine is what killed my father.
Besides, it is only one model, one that continually evolves.
Look at how much Western medicine has ...