Prayer Subscribe

A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on prayer.


Blogs

Shanah Tovah

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen STOP! Such we are commanded each week. ~ Stop taking from the land! Such we are commanded each seventh year. ~ Why bother stopping? Perhaps to see. Perhaps to notice. Perhaps to discover if we care. Stopping draws us in. Opens us to new life. Deepens us to death Reveals to us G!dness. Brings us home. Shanah tovah! Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, and the ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 27: At the Edge of the Sea

by Rabbi Louis Polisson (Hebrew translation is after the English) At the edge of the sea On the sand, on the stones, on the shells I stand In prayer But where should I look What am I supposed to see ~ I want to contemplate The sea The reflections of the sun in her waves Illuminate and entice my eyes _ But the obligation of the East Onward, eastward Arises in my mind And draws me To turn away from the sea To turn around Facing the sun ~ I long To believe and to witness The day when the sun and the ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 25: Navel of the Earth

by Rabbi Ariel Wolpe Midrash Tanhuma teaches that when the Holy One began to create the world, the Holy One did so as a child grows within the mother. Just as an embryo begins as a small cell and then expands in all directions, so too the world was created from a single point—from even shtiya, the foundation or “drinking” stone. This stone is the navel of the earth, nourishing us and connecting us to the Divine Mother. According to Rabbi Eliezer, this occurred on the twenty-fifth of Elul. Rosh Hashannah is the birthday of humanity—Adam formed from ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 24: Harachaman for Shmita

by Rabbi David Seidenberg As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we are also fast approaching the next Shmita year, when all the land in Israel was supposed to rest, all debts were supposed to be canceled, and all food was to be shared, even with the wild animals. Just like Elul through the High Holidays, the Shmita year itself was a long journey of t’shuvah, returning to God, during which our sense of business-as-usual could fall away, revealing what it means to be in community with each other and with the land. A human world that observed Shmita fully is a world that ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


Our Temple is Being Destroyed

~by Lynn Nadeau * Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez On Tisha B'Av, we sit on the floor, a candle barely lighting the page, and we read the words which sear the heart. We lament the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians. And we lament the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. And today, we mourn the destruction caused by ourselves. Our private profligacy. Our passivity and our lack of participation in public policy letting selfish interests predominate. For these things I weep; my eye, yea my eye, sheds ...

Read More


Yom Kippur and Veganism/Vegetarianism

by Richard Schwartz There are many connections that can be made between the sacred Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and plant-based diets which may be interpreted as “vegan,” or at least “vegetarian.” Vegetarians eat no animal flesh, while vegans also avoid dairy products and eggs, and many do not wear leather, fur, or silk. Many vegans and vegetarians avoid involvement in any activity that involves the mistreatment of an animal.  Some people may prefer to start as vegetarians before progressing to veganism. The connection to the vegan and vegetarian ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 2: Reflections on The Challenges of Living with Fear and Hope

by Maxine Lyons I find new signs of hope and gratitude for the changes that I feel are beginning to surface despite the anxieties and sadness I feel for the families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, and for the heightened consciousness of racism. We are living through a time when many forces are coming together with the potential to change our daily lives, setting in motion systemic reforms to our institutions that could dismantle systemic racism. I feel fearful that social upheaval or outright rebellion could de-stabilize us as a country or alternatively, could ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 1: Elul is here

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen I turned inward with the lockdown. I didn't want to go anywhere. My garden saved me. I worked outside almost every day. In early summer, I started again to lead outdoor services with small groups. But no walks on my own, in nature. After the depths of despair of Tisha B'Av, as the weeks of consolation began, knowing Elul was approaching, I started to turn outward. I spent a week of early mornings in a little-traveled conservation area, before the heat settled in. Reveling in the blooming flowers ...

Read More


It’s time to go hug a tree!

The month of Nisan has arrived - it's time to go hug a tree! The month of Nisan began the evening of April 1, in the midst of the welcoming blossoms of springtime in Israel. This month also comes in the midst of the "Coronavirus crisis," as we are asked to shut ourselves in our homes instead of going outside and enjoying all that beauty of nature. Birkat Ha'Ilanot (Blessing for the Blossoming Trees), the mitzvah that is observed during the days of Nisan, reminds us that even in our own backyards (or our neighbors’ yard) we can find nature that is full of blessing. ...

Read More


L’Shanah Tova and a thank you to our Earth Etudes for Elul Contributors

Elul is the month before Rosh Hashanah, a time when we review our lives and think about how we will live the coming year. Many of these earth etudes actually connect our earth with the spirit of Judaism–Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. We would like to thank Rabbi Katy Z. Allen for bringing together these awe-inspiring contributors, whose essays, poems and thoughts help us understand the meaning of our lives and how we can repair our world. And our Earth Etudes can be helpful throughout the year. So you can read them here: Earth Etude for Elul 1: Rabbi ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 29 –Waking up to the Climate Crisis

by Rabbi David Jaffe ~ My guess is that many readers of the Elul Etudes are fully awakened to the climate crisis and read these blogs with the hope of gaining perspective and spiritual resilience to keep facing the crisis without panicking and burning out. This blog post is for a difference audience – those, like me, who intellectually understand the crisis but don’t feel the urgency.  Despite reading articles and watching videos about the famines, flooding and other impacts of rising temperatures on people in the Global South and here in parts of the United ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 28 — Swimming in Circles in Life

by Rabbi Judy Kummer ~ Every August I participate in a 1-mile breast cancer fundraising swim at a pond on Cape Cod. I have done this swim every year since 2007, training each summer day to swim further and faster.  I especially delight in swimming outdoors. Sometimes my practice swims are in daytime, sometimes at “golden hour” as the sun is setting,  and sometimes at dusk, when I can watch the moon rising, cycling inexorably through its phases towards the High Holidays.  What a feast for the senses:  I find myself savoring the sunlight ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 26: What do animals feel and think? Who are they?

by Rabbi David Seidenberg ~ That’s too broad a question by many degrees, but the difference between asking “who are they?” and “what are they?” is the gulf between civilizations, between epochs, between a world in which humans dominate and destroy, and a world in which humans collaborate with other species in the great project of the universe--Life. Since Descartes, the idea that the other animals (besides human beings) are not subjects has reigned in science. It became forbidden to say that animals have feelings, consciousness, thinking, despite the fact ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 25*– To the Silent Stones

by Sarah Chandler ~ Do you count your days in footsteps? In strollers? In sunlight? Cement and concrete Below my feet I take a peek at the patterns And the places Where tiny rocks gather Solid, safe, secure What was it was like To move your entire being From a quarry of friends To this square of sidewalk? City stones Bricks, brownstone, marble Are your family now You The eyes of Our neighborhood My commute My shabbat walk Sometimes the trees Insist that their roots Decorate your patterns And Your cracks keep my steps whole Each journey down the ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 23 — The Prayer for Rain

by Rabbi Louis Polisson ~The Hebrew month of Elul is well-known as the month of preparation for the Jewish holidays Rosh Ha-Shanah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). In Jewish literature, it is often called a month of teshuvah (repentance, self-improvement, and returning to the good parts of ourselves). However, one might also view Elul as a time to prepare for the fall harvest festival of Sukkot (which literally means Booths or Huts), when we eat all of our meals in a temporary dwelling, symbolizing our fragile yet joyous and sacred ...

Read More