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  • 03 Jul 2014 10:31 AM | Anonymous

    I will shake my hands in the air
    with tears besotting ancient anguish
    and the cries of parents who bury their children in graves etched into the earth by the blood of enemies we are challenged to discern but who try to take more than life and steal our hope and our faith.

    The revenge I seek
    is not of torment or rage or rocket launches but a sweet revenge of defiant compassion and determination to write a new story where children play in the parks of Jerusalem and the town squares of Ramallah and to rise up stronger than ever before with all those committed to a real, just, honorable future with all the fury that hope can muster and weave a blanket of compassion over the planet so strong so powerful so vibrant and holy and impenetrable there is no longer space left in the universe for anything not pregnant with courage or love.

  • 23 Jun 2014 1:14 PM | Anonymous

    The Shir Tikvah Israel Group has been very busy during the last week!  A camel ride today, Kakadu Art Studio yesterday, and old city of Jerusalem on Saturday.  Keep checking back here for more updates, or follow the Shir Tikvah Israel Trip on Facebook.

  • 02 Jun 2014 5:54 PM | Anonymous

    Shavuot celebrates the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. In the hundreds of generations since, the stories of the Jewish people have been retold countless times.

    What happens when a family story doesn't get told?

    Imagine digging through the contents of your elderly relative’s apartment and discovering a long-kept secret.  The film “The Flat” explore the limits of friendship, the power of memory and the possibility of forgiveness. 

    Join the Lifelong Learning Team for Tikkun Leil Shavuot – evening of Shavuot learning, prayer, and cheesecake! Tuesday, June 3, 7pm to 9:30pm.

    The evening’s teaching will be led by Rabbi Melissa B. Simon, Shir Tikvah’s Director of Lifelong Learning. Discussion will be chevruta-style, in small groups. All are welcome to be a part of the evening.  The film viewing will begin at 7pm followed by a discussion.  The evening will conclude with a brief Shavuot service. In keeping with the holiday’s dairy tradition (the land flowing with milk and honey), we will feast on cheesecake!

    What is Shavuot? Since Passover, we have counted the omer, marking time, to arrive at this festival holiday which, historically, celebrated the planting season and evolved to commemorate Jews' receipt of Torah at Mount Sinai. Celebrate whatever moves you this season at Shavuot.

    L’shalom, friends!

    Shir Tikvah's Lifelong Learning Team

  • 09 May 2014 1:09 PM | Anonymous
    Please take a few minutes to read some wise words regarding Children in our Sanctuaries, written by my colleague and friend, Rabbi Menachem Creditor.
  • 23 Apr 2014 8:36 AM | Anonymous
    Spring!  Is there a blessing for spring?  How about seeing the first blooms of spring? Last week in Thursday morning minyan, Andy Elfenbein shared the following blessing, intended to be said when you see the first blooms on TWO different trees.  Blessed are you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of space and time, for God left nothing lacking in the world, and created in it good creatures and good trees, giving pleasure through them to  humans (the children of Adam).  

    BarRUCH a-TAH AdoNAI, EloHEInu MEH-lech ha-oLAM  she-LO chi-SAR ba-olaMO da-VAR, u’va-RA VO b’ri-YOT to-VOT v’i-la-NOT to-VIM, l’ha-NOT ba-HEM b’NEI a-DAM.

    בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶֹלֹא חִסַר בַּעוֹלָמוֹ דָּבָר וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבִים לְהָנּוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם.

    I hope we all see at least two blossoming trees in the coming week!  What a blessing that would be!
  • 18 Apr 2014 2:24 PM | Anonymous
    I just read a fascinating article on why Passover is celebrated for 7 days by some and 8 days by others.  It refers to the first evidence of "hacking" by rebels who spread a "virus" by sending the signal fire for Rosh Chodesh on their own dates, messing things up.  Check it out!
  • 11 Apr 2014 12:04 PM | Anonymous
    Shir Tikvah member and JCA leader, Carin Mrotz has published an article regarding parental leave in the workplace that appears on the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism website. It asks the important questions, "What if our internal procedures could reflect the world we want to create and the work we want to do? What if we prioritize our values and operationalize self-care?"  Please follow the link to read the full article. 
  • 11 Apr 2014 9:39 AM | Anonymous
    Quick!  Get your Pesach on!  Treat yourself to my favorite Passover songs.  Play them while you clean!  Play them while you don't clean!  Play them while you cook!  Play them in the car!  Play them at your seder!

    Here are my favorites, vetted for the "kitsch" factor.  If you don't have someone musical at your seder, bring the music right to the table.
    Some of these are on youtube, but extra points for supporting Jewish musicians and purchasing their music!

    Shir La La Pesach, my favorite Pesach album ever:  Shir La La Pesach Album
    If you don't get the whole album, try:
    Candle blessing
    Mah Nishtana
    Let My People Go
    Listen King Pharaoh
    Lotsa Matsa
    Building Cities
    Elijah Rock

    Paul Zim Seder Nights, my second favorite Pesach album:  Seder Nights
    Favorite tracks:
    Avadim Hayinu
    One is Hashem

    Ellen Allard--
    Ten Plagues in Egypt
    Baby Moses in a Basket
    Wall of Water
    Ballad of the Four Sons

    Another source for Passover music:  Yep.  A Jewish version of iTunes. Discounts for buying in bulk.  I haven't listened to all of these, but I love supporting small businesses, and many Jewish artists sell their music here:  Oysongs

    As always, I love knowing what you picked and what inspired you, and especially, which ones you could not stop singing for days.  I have a trick for that, by the way, that I'll share when you tell me which one stayed with you.

    Wishing you a Chag Sameach!  Happy Passover!
  • 03 Apr 2014 10:59 AM | Anonymous
    This morning I had the great opportunity to be a “civilian” in morning minyan. Not being in charge of prayer is a great gift for those of us who usually lead.  It usually means that I can go off-road from the service.  This morning I was hardly ever on the same page that Rabbi Simon announced.  Instead, I took a “choose-my-own-adventure” journey through Mishkan T’fillah.  I highly recommend doing this during prayer services or whenever you find yourself looking at a prayer book, whether you’re seeking inspiration, curious about what is in this book, or are looking for a distraction.  I’m even considering using my own prayer book at morning minyan so I can write in it when I find gems, like I did this morning.  I might put the date on the page and a note about my thoughts, so that when I encounter it again, I can remember what inspired me the last time I encountered the prayer.

    This morning’s top gem, dedicated to those who are traveling to Israel in the coming months, but also for anyone who has been to Israel.

    One does not travel to Jerusalem,
    One returns,
    One ascends
    The road taken by generation, the path of longing
    On the way to redemption.

    One brings rucksacks
    Stuffed with memories
    To each mountain
    And each hill.
    In the cobbled white alleyways
    One offers a blessing
    For the memories of the past
    Which have been renewed.

    One does not travel to Jerusalem.
    One returns.

    --Yitzchak Yasinowitz

    I’m so excited for those of you who will experience Jerusalem for the first time this summer.  And so excited for those who are returning.  As much as I wish I were going to Israel with the Shir Tikvah trip, I’m grateful to have returned to Jerusalem this morning. I could see it, smell it, and revel in Jerusalem during minyan. If you find a prayer that inspires you, will you share it with me?

  • 02 Apr 2014 3:29 PM | Anonymous
    On March 31, 2014, along with dozens of my colleagues, I shaved my head. Bald. Not just short. Bald. To paraphrase the babies from "Free to Be You and Me," "Bald as a ping-pong ball."


    The simple answer is that we joined "36 Rabbis Shave for Brave" to raise money for children's cancer research through St. Baldrick's Foundation, a fundraising effort dreamed up by Rabbis Rebecca Einstein Schorr and Elizabeth Wood. It was born in a moment of pain; our colleagues, Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer, buried their eight-year-old son, Sammy, who died from refractory acute myeloid leukemia on Dec. 14, 2013.

    In our collective grief, we rabbis came together, raised more than half a million dollars and raised the profile of paltry funding for children's cancer research. Men and women alike. All rabbis. More than 80 of us. Now bald. Symbols of hope and grief, empathy and activism.

    The deeper answer as to why we did this, though, is a bit more emotionally and spiritually complicated, and is different for each one of us who participated. Isn't that how it always is?

    Rachel Havrelock notes in The Torah: A Women's Commentary that "the human body is both an indicator of change and a vessel of memory."

    An indicator of change. A vessel of memory.

    We rabbis have a lot of power. We teach Torah, offer blessings, strive to inspire the brokenhearted to touch their souls and dream, to ameliorate suffering, to breathe Judaism to life in a new generation, to live our prophetic values in the public square and change social policy for the human good. We name babies, pronounce couples married beneath a chuppah and hold bereaved loved ones in our arms as they desperately try to croak out the haunting meter of the "Mourner's Kaddish."

    But we cannot stop our loved ones -- our family, our friends, our colleagues, our children -- from knowing agonizing pain when a child dies.

    So when the opportunity came to shave our heads, there was a deeply spiritual, Torah-based reason we did it: empathy. Phyllis, Sammy's mom, said that she was looking forward to shaving her beautiful long hair to demonstrate physically how much things have changed to reflect the profound grief inside her heart.

    But it is more than just empathy that inspired our collective action.

    Shaving my head is a ritual way to engage other people in a conversation: About Sammy, about children's cancer research, about my deep respect for Phyllis and Michael's ability to simply wake up each morning, about "tzedakah" (justice), "tikkun" (healing) and "rachamim" (compassion), about our responsibility to do something when we can.

    There are moments, sublime and acute, when memory marries the body's transformation, and empathy and activism embrace. It is the cry to respond, however and whenever we can, to the suffering in our midst.

    No, $500,000 won't bring Sammy back from the dead. We know that. But perhaps we can hold our colleagues and friends in their grief and help raise the money necessary to prevent another family from needing to bury their child. Maybe there is a future doctor or researcher in our midst will be inspired by our meshuggana shave. Or maybe there is someone, like Esther, born for this moment, to devote all her resources to eradicating pediatric cancer.

    An indicator of change, a vessel of memory.

    Empathy activism. The radical Jewish ideal that our connectedness to other people inspires us -- demands us -- to respond to their suffering with courageous action. When we can, we must.

    If you would like to support this worthy cause, please donate here.
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