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


Blogs

Hanukkah Part 3: “Wisdom from the Heart and from the Hearth”

This post is part three of a three part series on Hanukkah. You can find the first post here and the second post here.  Far from being “hypocrisy” as the New York Times opinion page called it last Sunday, Hanukkah can teach us deeply important lessons for our world. Albert Einstein changed the world, and he knew something about thinking creatively. He famously said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” In these short, dark days of winter, we look back on the past year and see a bleak picture of ...

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Hanukkah: Dynamic Emergence of the Eternal Light– Part 2

This post is part two of a three part series on Hanukkah. As we move through this eight day holiday, Rabbi Margalit will be sharing thoughts on the emergent and dynamic aspects of Hanukkah. You can find the first post here.  I wrote in Part One that Hanukkah isn’t mentioned in the Torah, that it is a holiday that was started by us, the people, and it didn’t really focus on God’s explicit miracles but more on the people’s courage in the war against the Greeks and their initiative in declaring this a new holiday. But, hold on! Of course, Hanukkah has miracles! ...

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Limmud in Stockholm – A Weekend of Jewish Learning

Limmud is an organization that provides Jewish learning in many parts of the world. On November 17 - 18 (Saturday and Sunday), Limmud will be presenting a program in Stockholm. One of the speakers will be David Krantz, the president of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, parent nonprofit of Jewcology, the Green Zionist Alliance, EcoJews of the Bay, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. He serves on the board of directors of the American Zionist Movement, Arizona Interfaith Power & Light, and Interfaith Moral Action on Climate. He is also a National ...

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Chanukkah Chesed Challenge: Acts of Kindness

The evening of November 8 was the first of the month of Kislev, which means Chanukkah (there are many English spellings!) isn't far away - it begins on the 25th of Kislev and ends on the 2nd of the month of Tevet. During these days, from today until the end of Chanukkah, I invite you to be part of the Chanukkah Chesed Challenge. Chesed means "kindness," and the idea of the Chanukkah Chesed Challenge is to work consciously, every day, to do one act of chesed, or kindness, to someone you encounter throughout the day. This act should be something that does not ...

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Where Does Our Security Come From?

We are all devastated and shocked by yesterday’s murders of eleven Jews in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Our hearts go out to the families and Jewish community of Pittsburgh as many of us gather today in vigils and services around the country. Many of us are also gripped by fear as we wonder whether we are safe in this country which we thought was a haven of freedom and security. Of course, every community will do what it needs to make sure that they feel safe and secure. Sadly, it is likely that many of us will become more wary of strangers, more likely ...

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Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism

   by Richard Schwartz ~                          There are many connections that can be made between the sacred Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and vegetarianism: 1.  On Yom Kippur, Jews pray to the “Living God,” the “King Who delights in life,” that they should be remembered for life, and inscribed in the “Book of Life” for the New Year.  Yet, typical animal-based diets have been linked to heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, that shorten the lives of millions of people annually. 2. ...

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Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism*

by Richard Schwartz~ Rosh Hashanah is the time when Jews take stock of their lives and  consider new beginnings. Perhaps the most significant and meaningful  change that Jews should consider this year is a shift away from diets  that have been having devastating effects on human health and the  health of our increasingly imperiled planet. While many Jews seem to  feel that the holiday’s celebration can be enhanced by the consumption of chopped liver, gefilte fish, chicken soup, and roast chicken, there are many inconsistencies between the values of Rosh  ...

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Rosh Hashanah Message: Saving Our World.

      by Richard Schwartz~  Rosh Hashanah commemorates God’s creation of the world. The “Ten Days of Repentance” from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is a period to evaluate our deeds and to do teshuvah (repentance) for cases where we have missed the mark. Hence, the upcoming weeks provide an excellent time to consider the state of the planet’s environment and what we might do to make sure that the world is on a sustainable path.      When God created the world, He was able to say, "It is tov meod (very good)." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 29 – World as Lover, World as Self

by Daniel Kieval~ there is a meditation practice watching everything arising, inside and outside responding with a gentle, "not me" this thought - "not me" this anger - "not me" this leg - "not me" "not me" it is a Big Truth all this stuff is unfolding in a giant performance art piece we call The Universe and we are just a witness to this flow They say the opposite of a small truth is a lie, but the opposite of a big truth is another big truth is it not equally true to say to everything - "me" ? this anger - "me" this song - "me" this wafting scent of ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 28 – Not One

by David Greenstein~ There is not one blade of grass on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently: “Grow, grow!”* And, in return, the grass keeps growing. There is not one lion on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently, “Roar, roar!” And, in return, the lion keeps roaring. There is not one stream on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently, “Flow, flow!” And, in return, the stream keeps flowing. There is not one bee on earth without its angel descending from above, ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 27 – Elul Solastalgia* Blues

by Rabbi Ben Weiner~ Like almost every Jewish festival, the High Holidays have both spiritual and natural resonance, which, at the deepest level, are intertwined.  Our ancient ancestors, linking the quality of the oncoming rainy season with the quality of their deeds, derived the need to perform an intense ceremony of  repentance at just the time they began anxiously scanning the sky for clouds. Growing up in central New England, it was not the rains I anticipated as the days of Elul ticked away but the first signs of autumn--cool dewy mornings and crisp breezes by ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 26 – Returning to The Trees of Life

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein~ I am a tree hugger. From long ago. I have planted trees, hundreds of them. I have celebrated Arbor Day as a Girl Scout. I have hiked in the woods from the time I was little. There is a tree that grows in the center of the Merritt Parkway on the way into New York. I passed this tree every week on my way to rabbinical school. It is a beautiful tree with many strong, curved branches coming out of the central trunk. It looks like a menorah. There is another tree like that, a very old tree on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, ME. Over a ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 25 – The Hawk and the Kippah

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ For the past 13 years since my ordination, I have been wearing a rainbow kippah. The kippah and its pattern hold many meanings for me: connection to family, covenant with G!d, hope for the future, acceptance of all kinds of people (including myself), and more. Periodically, I have had to make a new kippah, when the previous one wore out. Recently, when I again needed to make a new kippah, as I thought about it, I realized that I wanted to make this new kippah slightly different from all my previous rainbow kippot. I crocheted the first few ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 24 – Delights in Breaking Your Own Behavior and Heading Toward Love

by Molly Bajgot~   delights in breaking your own behavior and heading towards love:   when water logged branch comes girdling down the stream and gets caught by poised stick, gracefully, i hang   caught on its varied   fluttering,   communicating with its dancer.   i watch from a brightly blazed, hot sun rock naked, this intimate exchange   and then, off it goes —   drifting away, pushed by some force lightly more powerful than all the other tide pulses, ...

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Working Together: Will a Single Plan Ameliorate Climate Disruption? Earth Etude for Elul 23

by Andy Oram~ Climate disruption is a universal scourge that requires a coordinated worldwide response. As such, it is a constant frustration to activists who wish that institutions everywhere could collaborate on implementing the Paris accords and to do even more. We often lament that governments and companies go their own ways, violating their own promises to hold back carbon production. Why can't humanity learn to work together in its own interest? Recourse to Jewish traditional texts can help us accept this situation. In particular, the story of the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 22 – You Shall Be Like a Watered Garden

by Rabbi Toba Spitzer~ Of the many ways that the Divine is described and experienced in the Hebrew Bible, one of my favorites is Water. In the prophets, in Psalms, God is referred to as Peleg Elohim/“River of God”; M’kor Mayyim Hayyim/“Source of Living Waters”; Ma’ayanei Hayeshua/“Wells of Liberation,” and more. For our Biblical ancestors, the metaphor of God as Water was a powerful way of describing their connection to the Source of Life:  How precious is Your love, O God!...Humanity is nourished from the riches of Your house, You give them ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 21 – Choose Life! Whose Life?

by Rabbi David Seidenberg~ Every year before Rosh Hashanah we read the ultimate Torah portion about t’shuvah, returning to God, called parshat Nitzavim. Every year we are reminded that if we turn toward God, then God will circumcise our hearts. And every year, in a section of Nitzavim that Reform congregations also read on Rosh Hashanah, we are admonished, “Choose life!,” even as we pray to be inscribed in the Book of Life. How do we choose Life? A few weeks before Rosh Hashanah, in parshat Ki Teitzei, we are given concrete instruction. “When a ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 20 – Elul Dinner

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D.~ Elul Dinner Dining open air chandeliers starry night invitations flowing rivers boulders chairs ledges tables grasses carpets mosses cushions wildflowers ornaments vegetation food come eat with Us © Judith Felsen, Ph.D., 2018 Judith Felsen holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, certificates in hypnotherapy, NLP, Eriksonian Hypnosis, and Sacred Plant Medicine. She is a poet, consultant, creator of collaborative integrative programs involving nature, Judaism, spirituality and the arts, student of Torah, sacred texts and ...

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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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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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