A Bracha for Voting

If you live in the United States — then vote. No excuses. Don’t take for granted a right that people all over the world kill and die for.

A Blessing for Voting
Blessed are you Holy One, Spirit of the Universe,
who grants us wisdom and enables us to choose
those who lead us on this earthly realm.

May we align our hearts with your way and
may our hands cast votes that are for the benefit of all.

Tishrei: Talking to the Dead

First post of the year at PunkTorah.org.  This year I’ll be exploring  a unique tradition or practice associated with either the holidays or seasons of each month of the Jewish year.

The most prominent rituals of Sukkot are the setting up of our Sukkahs, the “huts” we “dwell in” and the shaking of the Lulav and Etrog. The harvest roots of Sukkot are hardly worth discussing and debating, because they are just so blatant.  So let’s talk about that other fascinating tradition: the Ushpizin.

Read on at PunkTorah.org

 

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Juicy Delicious Judaism – A Rosh Hashanah Drash

I was honored to be asked to speak at the Rosh Hashanah services of Olney Kehila this year.  Below is the text of the “drash” I gave.

L’Shanah Tova

I am really honored to be here with you all today.  My family seems to have a growing and wonderful connection with Olney Kehila.  Not only is Holly, a friend, teacher, and mentor, but my husband crafted the wonderful ark that houses your community’s Torah.  I’ve enjoyed services here in the past and just love what a friendly and welcoming congregation this is.  One thing, in particular, that’s struck me in the past is the amazing kids you have here. I watch them get so engaged with the songs and chants,and I remember meeting one Bat Mitzvah student a couple of years ago who was working on some project that I can’t even fathom having the maturity to have done when I was twelve.

Continue reading “Juicy Delicious Judaism – A Rosh Hashanah Drash”

The Shofar: Symbol of Tishrei, Symbol of Judaism

Tishrei 5772 begins at Sundown on Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The shofar is not only a symbol we all associate with Tishrei, but it’s also a symbol of Judaism.  Many of us only think about the shofar at the High Holy days, but in ancient times it was used regularly in religious rites.

Blow the shofar at the new moon, at the full moon for our feast-day.
(Psalm 81:3)
In Psalms, we see the order to blow the shofar at both the new moon, Rosh Chodesh, and the full moon feast days. Historically the shofar would have been used to call us to prayer and attention for a myriad of reasons and events.  The shofar was also the sound of G-d/dess’ voice we hear at Sinai.  Is it any wonder that this ancient relic is one we still treasure today?  When considering the shofar, also remember that it is a sign of our history as a nation of shepherds.  I’m exploring purchasing my first shofar, and finding that I not only want one that is beautiful and playable — but also that I know comes from an animal that is not just kosher, but was also raised with respect and given a good life.  I also want it to be local.  Why should I import a shofar from a foreign country, when there are so many sheep right here? I would like to learn to play the shofar, but I also want to incorporate it into my fall altar, or spiritual focal point if you prefer. If you are unfamiliar with the idea of having a Jewish personal altar, here’s a post  about the practice.