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A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology inteded for use by camp counselors.


Blogs

Earth Etude for Elul 22: Healing in Nature and Helping Nature Heal

by Joan Rachlin It has been just over 17 months since my husband suffered a stroke. It wasn’t just our lives that changed that day, though, as March 11, 2020 was also the day that Boston went into lockdown in an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19. We therefore found ourselves living in a bubble within a bubble and rehab services were consequently hard to find. All of the outpatient clinics were closed and home care was limited. In this “timing is everything world,” my husband’s rehab was slowed down because the world had turned upside down. We drove ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 20: Rolling

by Carol Reiman Scroll turners, wooden handles, trees of life, our thumbs evolved, rolled down from years to screens;Leading us through dry sands, streams, times of manna, now of drought;Fires of the burning bush, now woods flaming by dream homes;Wanderers yearning for place,kinship of community, ability to thrive;Where do we take our strength?When do we listen to the land, to those who warn us of what comes?Are we as sturdy as our hopes,As fragile as our whims,Intemperate in our senses,Inconsistent in our care?Lest our drives consume us,Let us rest in the shadow...

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Earth Etude for Elul 19: It’s All About the Soil

by Rabbi Robin Damsky “It’s All About the Soil.” So reads the headline for a website discussing regenerative agriculture. I’m torn between fear and possibility. Evidence of climate change worsens every place we breathe. I read several summaries of the most recent UN report on the climate crisis in which Antonio Guterres declares a “code red for humanity.” Yikes. I’ve always believed we have the power to heal our planet. I still do. But the window of opportunity is getting smaller and the actions we must take are more substantive. There ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 18: Perfection

by Rabbi Katy Allen Perfection. I've been thinking about it a lot. Intellectually, I know I can't be perfect. Inside me, in hidden spaces, I feel like I'm not supposed to make mistakes. Which would, of course, mean seeking perfection. Perfection is supposed to belong only to G!d, though I'm not sure I know what that means. Sometimes, when I'm able embrace my humanness, it's incredibly freeing to acknowledge that I don't have to be perfect. But I also realize there's a balance between not trying to be perfect all the time and not trying to never make ...

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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. ~ Inside, ~ It’s quiet. So very quiet. Too quiet. And lonely. ~ Ready to begin my morning, ~ I choose a book Ready to read, I ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 16: Lessons Learned from my Garden

by Maxine Lyons Reflecting on my connection to t’shuvah means returning more mindfully to positive words and actions and performing mitzvot - commandments. T’shuvah also includes recognizing our connection to the earth, and for me, learning what my garden has to teach me. In a short book, Don't Throw in the Trowel, the author quips, "a garden is a sublime lesson in the unity of humans and nature.” A good garden to me is one that is well planned and cared for, and I am grateful to the Earth’s wisdom and resilience to provide the basis for ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 15: Counting to the Next Shmita Year

by David Krantz Among our more under-appreciated traits, we Jews are counters. We count for a prayer quorum, we count the omer, we count the days of the months to know when our holidays are. We might know the days of the week by their names – Sunday, Monday — but in Hebrew they are Yom Rishon, the First Day, and Yom Sheni, the second day. And before borrowing their current names from the Babylonian calendar, the Jewish months were numbered. What we now know as Elul was once the Sixth Month, leading to the Seventh Month that we now call Tishrei. Counting can ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 14: Turkey Tails and Teshuvah

by Rabbi Marisa Elana James In the park near my house is a large tree that fell last winter, the trunk slowly falling into decay thanks to four seasons of sun and rain and snow and wind slowly transitioning it back to the soil. When I pass it on walks, I always stop to see what’s new on the slowly-rotting trunk, because I’ve learned that it’s just as beautiful as the living, flowering trees that surround it. Mushrooms can grow incredibly fast, seemingly appearing from one day to the next, helping break down dead wood while taking nourishment from it. And ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 13: Crater Lake

by Rabbi Shira Shazeer Many months after the world changed After worry, adjustment, connections lost and found Relearning how to live How to work How to family How to community ~ After holding on Holding together Holding, holding, ~ I took to the open road Family in tow To see the land and the wonder it holds ~ To reach out and in and rediscover Who am I Wherever I am In this world ~ I am no Thoreau Not Diana of the Dunes Alone with the world In quiet contemplation Rugged self ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 12~Shmita: The Seven Year Switch

by Mirele B. Goldsmith This Rosh HaShanah is also the start of the Shmita, the Sabbatical Year.  The Torah’s Shmita focuses on land as the nexus of our relationship to Earth and demands that we let it rest from the damage caused by agriculture. To ensure that everyone can participate, all debts are released.  During the Shmita year the produce of the land is shared so that everyone has what they need to survive.  Today, Earth is threatened by the exploitation of fossil fuels that is causing damage that was unimaginable to our ancestors.  But ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 11: Morning Prayer

by Judith Felsen I awaken to a world uncertain of its future …Your will…??? ~ I perceive an earth in conflict and divided …Divine design…??? ~ I envision a tomorrow wondering and doubtful Heavenly plan…??? ~ I imagine next year’s future knowing it may not arrive Exalted humbling…??? ~ I experience uncertainty life’s newness in unknowns Celestial opening…??? ~ I dissolve myself in guidance fused in trust Divine order… ??? ~ I enroll as one in service building earth anew M...

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Earth Etude for Elul 10: Too Much of a Good Thing, or When All You’ve Ever Wanted is Really Too Much

by Rabbi Judy Kummer When this summer started, we in the Northeast were facing a drought. The levels of water in area lakes seemed to be down by as much as 4 feet, and rivers that should have been tumbling with early spring melt weren’t rushing and gurgling so much as dribbling, the vegetation on their nearby banks a droopy stunted mess. I was skeptical that the seedlings I had nurtured indoors all winter would survive if planted in my garden. And then, as we moved into summer, the rains began to fall. Where we gardeners may have expected an occasional rainfall to ...

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Can the Climate Crisis Bring Israeli and Diaspora Jews Together?

by Dr. Dov Maimon and Ambassador Gideon Behar ~The challenge of climate change may constitute a unique opportunity for joint action, especially among young Jews in Israel and the Diaspora, that would not only benefit the entire world, but also help create a renewed sense of mission for the Jewish people. Jews from across the globe could be mobilized for a task that transcends narrow Jewish interests: that of building an ecologically and socially responsible world, or in traditional Jewish terms: Tikkun Olam. Unlike the issue of human rights that galvanized young ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 9~ Environmental Justice and the Legacy of Redlining: A Call for Teshuvah

by Courtney Cooperman Jewish teachings about environmental stewardship emphasize our responsibility to protect Creation for future generations. In the Garden of Eden, God instructs Adam and Eve: “Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you” (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13). Although Judaism frames our responsibility to care for the planet in forward-looking terms, our commitment to environmental protection demands that we look backwards, too. The concept of teshuvah requires that we consider the connect...

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Earth Etude for Elul 8: Not What I Want

by Rabbi Benjamin Weiner On the road to the farmstore in my electric car, the baby starting to doze in her safety seat, and the man in his cold British tones, explaining to the listeners an inexorable future of unmanageable heat, and the hostess says: I’m sorry, but that’s all the time we have, and she moves on to the new war in Afghanistan. ~ In the mornings, when I wake too early, and hear the sound of cars on the highway by my door, I lie as still as possible, willing the fixity I ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 7: Trees from my travels spell hope for civilization

by Susie Davidson Desert trees in Los Cerillos, New Mexico Trees by the Mississippi River in Burlington IowaTrees with a red bush accent in Yorba Linda, CaliforniaTrees on a red rock in the American Southwest When people admire my frequent traveling, I always say yes, but it's budget travel. "But that's the best way to really see places," they usually respond. It's true. Not only do I get to mingle with locals and walk all over, but on buses and trains, you see the outer landscapes. You see the fields, the hills, the bodies of water, the crops and the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 6: I Am a Terrible Gardener

by Rabbi Megan Doherty I am a terrible gardener. But I garden anyway. I hate weeding. I water my plants too much, or too little. I don’t know from fertilizer, or mulch, or those fancy cages which keep out the deer and the birds. I live in rural Ohio, and when I look at the thriving mini-farms my neighbors create and tend, I want to throw my hands up in despair. But I plant. One year, my dad showed up at our house with a bunch of lumber and built raised beds in our backyard. The process was a beacon for awestruck kindergartners, who showed up with ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 5: Choosing Life as Nerds for the Earth

by Harvey Michaels ~Moses’ final message from G-d: This day…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.  For millennia we have reflected on what it means to choose life; realizing that it is not always our life we’re choosing – our choices are more about our children and theirs; our communities, and our world. What does it mean to Choose Life for the Earth?  In recent years, I’m privileged to ask this question to classrooms of talented young people, and learned that when ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 4: A Letter to Mother Earth

by Rabbi Judy Schindler Dear Mother Earth, As we spiritually make our way through the month of Elul and approach the anniversary of your and our creation, you are in our prayers for healing. An illness extends across the globe – COVID-19.  We know that you can feel it.  You wonder why people wear masks when the air should be so perfect to inhale. You cringe that we have come to fear rains and their floods, winds and their consequent hurricanes, when instead we should stand in awe of the miraculous cycles of your natural world. We have ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 3: Joining Fifty Years of Mystic River Watershed Environmental Advocacy

by Karen L. Grossman In 2009 I was invited to get involved with the Mystic River Watershed Association, established in 1972 with a long, hard mission of environmental advocacy. As a board member for 10 years, I was able to admire how we partnered with other groups to champion environmental changes for MA, pursuing concerns with land use and transportation, involving the location of the Alewife Red Line Station, a highway building moratorium, the Amelia Earhart Dam completion, and greenway connectivity into Boston. While tabling at events, I spread the word that ...

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