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


Blogs

Earth Etude for Elul 22 — Lessons from Alaska

by Rabbi Suri Levow Krieger Alaska... 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! ...

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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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Strike for the Climate, Albany NY: Friday Sept. 20th, 11 am – 2 pm

The People of Albany United for Safe Energy (PAUSE) are joining with the students from local high schools and colleges to hold a march and rally. Our specific purpose is to call upon Governor Cuomo to enact aggressive measures that can lead the nation and the world in lowering our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to a safe level. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that we have until 2030 to lower GHG by 45% from the 2010 level. Every report the IPCC puts out is cautiously moderate and needs to be replaced by more dire predictions ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 20 — Past and Present Pain

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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 19– Teshuvah in the Desert

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? First and foremost, the desert is a dangerous place. Like Hagar1 or Elijah2, you can easily lose the way, ...

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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 17 — Slow Down

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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 14 –Inner and Outer Climate Change

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 ...

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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 ...

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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 12 –Two Poems

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D. Urban Garden Urban garden 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 infuses air lungs spared inhale may urban gardens grace this world, edible planted prayers of green reviving life and city air; urban garden blessing ground and all Urban garden tiny patch of heaven nestled amidst brick and stone; kales and chards salute the sky bok choy sentry elegant, ...

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Earth Etude for for Elul 11– Return to Our Values

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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 10 — Earth Mother

by Carol C. Reiman ~ She holds us in her arms, charms us with star sparkle eyes, lilac breath, song of rippling water over stone. She tells us our story, from deep in the loam of her heart, fed by rains and heat, warmth, cold, into the family of breezes, currents, creatures— those like us and not. Movement in spurts, and slow, creeping, climbing, sliding, changing skins and gestures, while we grow along with our earth siblings, cousins, at pause and in dance, flowing in mutual ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 9 — Elul: A Time to Start Shifting Our Imperiled Planet onto a Sustainable Path

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...

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Earth Etude for Elul 8 –A Year of Travel, A Year of Wonder

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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 7 — To Everything There is A Season

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 several ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 6 — God I Am Your Sapling

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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 5 — True Tikkun Olam

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 ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 4 — Experiencing G!D in the Wilderness

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 ...

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