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


Blogs

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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 21 — A Little Omer on the Prairie

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. ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 18 — What I Hope to Be

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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 16 — Prayer for the Two-Leggeds

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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 15 — 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. The word t'shuvah derives ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 13 –Spiritual Lessons from God’s “Art Museum”

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!” These words 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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 3 — 200 Jewels

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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 2: A Plan

by Judith Black ~When despair for my planet came ramming down my door, my heart, my hope, I stood crushed. When despair entered my bloodstream and resonated as cancer, I nodded toward death. When despair began to drive away friends, family, like a toxic odor, I kept belching it out. Then Spring woke the earth. It bloomed in every color imaginable. It smelt like the heaven of the very good. It started to grow cabbage and weeds and insects and flowers. It lives. If this mother of us all has the resilience to wake up and give life, who am I to lose hope? ...

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Re-Turning, Turning Around, Turning Toward: What Does it Take?

by Rabbi Katy Allen ~ The Jewish month of Elul is almost here. It's meant as a beginning of our process of turning and re-turning and returning to G!d as we prepare for the most holy day of the year, Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement. It is a time to turn away from that which is not good for us, others, and the world, and to turn toward healing, wisdom, blessing, and all that is good for us, others, and the world. Common wisdom reminds us that it requires 21 days - three weeks - of doing something in order to change. Elul has 29 days. And then there are 10 more days ...

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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 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 17 – Tree Speaking

by Rabbi Jill Hammer~ The trees are speaking with one another. The trees are speaking with all creatures… and all the conversations of living things are about the earth.  (Genesis Rabbah 13:2) Trees have been speaking with me since I was a child, and each tree speaks in its own way. The pine shelters; the willow bends in the wind; the birch has its cool gracefulness. The sycamore sheds its bark in July; the oaks drop their acorns in autumn; the maple leaks sap in February. The cherry, pear and apple blossoms make spring an enchanted kingdom. My father’s chestnut ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 12 – The Sh’ma

The Sh’ma, A Jewish Invocation of the Unity: An Interpretation for the 21st Century by Rabbi Arthur Waskow~ [This might best be recited paragraph by paragraph, each one read by a member of the community until the last line, which everyone says together.] Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el – Hush’sh’sh and Listen, You Godwrestlers – Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh To hear -- YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh/ Yahhhhhh. Hear in the stillness the still silent voice, The silent breathing that intertwines life; YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh / Yahhhh elohenu B...

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Earth Etude for Elul 8 – The Silence of the Frogs: Environmental Confession

by Rabbi Lawrence Troster~ Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are traditionally called the Ten Days of Repentance. Part of the Jewish concept of repentance is the act of confession, the Vidui. We confess publicly rather than privately, and in general terms rather than in specifics, because it allows everyone to confess without shame or embarrassment. It also binds the sins of one person to that of the whole community so that all take responsibility. While Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) said that we are only to confess in specific terms for sins between one person and ...

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