Friday, December 28, 2012

"I, Too, Have Lost Children"

“I, too, have lost children. Two. My twin girls drowned together in a boating accident in Zimbabwe. They were 13 years old. With one phone call, both gone. Yes, God gave me twin daughters. With difficulty I birthed them. With despair I buried them. No one promised me that they or I would grow to old age.”

My new housekeeper, Kudzai, came to America four years ago with her family. When we first met, I was drawn to her compassionate and peaceful interior. She didn’t rush around like the last housekeeper who was feverishly engaged in relay racing through my apartment.

Kudzai is different. She gently washes each dish and joyfully waxes the floors with her African chants. The countertops have never been brighter, and the winter bedspread contains no creases. I welcomed her soul energy into my home.

A week after the Connecticut massacre claimed 26 lives, we stood together in front of my hanukiah while she calmly and courageously spoke her sad story. Kudzai, a new African immigrant, understood more than I could comprehend about the dark journeys of these grief-stricken parents in Newtown.

“I am someone who knows about loss, grief, surrender, and love. I know the pain of those mothers, and I want them to know that they are not alone and that they too will survive.
From the beginning, before I faced Natalie and Natasha’s funerals, I kneeled at my bed, and I talked with God. I asked God to give me strength to survive. Perhaps I would get sick. Or lose my mind. Or fall under the weight of these losses. I only asked for God to stay alive in me. And then one day I surrendered and God saw me through.”  

“For ten years, no children were born to me. My only son, now 33, was my life. At the age of 35 I became pregnant with a girl. And then two years later, another girl was born. I felt that God had lifted me up like Job. Two girls returned to play in my home. A sense of gratitude pervaded my brokenness. My heart was busy in love again.”

“I have been faithful all my life. I believe in a God who can hold my burdens. I have a faith and a relationship with God that nurtured me during my pain. I have a faith that the people in Newtown need more than ever."

What do we know about the people who come through our doors? Do we care enough to ask? Kudzai is no longer my new housekeeper. She is becoming my spiritual mentor and friend. “Rabbi," she concluded, "you must know God."

At that moment, all I knew was what she taught me. In her presence, the Divine shines. I am a mere reflection of her faithfulness.

Friday, December 21, 2012

First Comes Love

First comes love. Love matters. Through the good times and the bad times, love is the bridge and the bricks that build trust.

First comes love. Love heals through human contact. Love speaks when you can’t utter a word. ”I am here: Do not be afraid.”

First comes love. When you think that the world is too much with you, love says, "I am with you more." When you weep, love sits and waits for your story to unfold and the tears to subside.

First comes love.

This is my response to the Newtown shootings. Reach out to those around you and bring love into the life of another.

The Beatles were so right. All we really need is love. More love. And more love still.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Spirit Is in the Oil

The rabbis in the Talmud tell us that the Maccabees were unable to obtain a solid gold menorah for the Temple after the desecration. They lacked the means to acquire such an expensive menorah, so, instead, they constructed a simple one out of iron rods plated with tin.

Why was there a miracle for the oil but none for the menorah itself?

If the Maccabees were able to find the cruse of oil, why didn’t they also find the gold menorah inside the Temple’s spaciousness?

The menorah corresponds to the material state of the Jewish people. It is a vessel for holding the oil. The olive oil, on the other hand, is a metaphor for the nation's inner spirit.

It is preferable that the external vessel be aesthetically beautiful, but there are times when the physical reality is harsh and displeasing. During such times, we make do with what we have, even if it means lighting with a menorah improvised out of iron rods.

The spirit is the oil that nourishes a rich inner flame.

The miracle occurred, not with the menorah, but with the oil.

We may suffer physical hardships and even deprivations, but our spiritual life should always pursue the clear pure path of our everyday inner light.

Chag urim sameach (Enjoy the lights and be joyous!),

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Eulogy for the Survivors

I knew him only in death. His son spoke about his father at the burial. A man of courage.

A survivor of the Nazi camps. A veteran of the United States Marines. A voice for tolerance and humanity. A father and grandfather. A man of convictions. A person who took risks for the sake of others. He feared and he feared not.

I knew him only in death. But I knew him and so many like him.

They lived and struggled to make their lives matter. Today and tomorrow, one by one they are being buried in our cemeteries across the world. They bore witness and we bear their legacy. They spoke the awful truth, and we continue to defend their honor.

I knew him only in death. And I will know him in life eternal.

May their memories be a blessing.

Rosh Chodesh Tevet and the Sixth Day of Chanukah: In solidarity with the Women of the Wall, we will pray during the morning service at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. (2850 Quebec St NW), on Friday, December 14, at 7:30 a.m. Please come and bring a friend to chant the shema with us in support of religious freedom. I look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Emergence and Convergence

Emerging from a deep meditation is like awakening from a sweet dream where love and compassion and lovingkindness meet to form a blanket of bliss. I breathe in contentment, and it becomes my aromatherapy for a few hours. The toxins and negativity in my life are pushed down into a invisible place where one has to struggle with the key to open the downstairs door. I would rather not investigate the depth of that dreariness.

Instead, all I want to do when I emerge from a deep meditation is to converge with all my best emotions and intentions. I have been rewired, and all the sparks and lights are on fire with passion and purpose.

Chanukah begins the night of December 8. Let's bring on the light!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Passing on Gratitude

Gratitude should be passed on and not passed over.

Every gratitude offering expands your abundance and affirms your blessings.

The unsolicited “thank you” promotes sweeter relationships and a kinder universe.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Suffering Through Our Dreams

Have you ever had a desire so strong and so deep that even the wanting brought with it heart sufferings?

Hannah, the mother of Samuel the prophet (Samuel 1:10), went to the temple and prayed for a child with such furious fervor and wayward weeping that Eli, the High Priest, assumed her to be drunk.

Hannah taught us that to dream big and bold, the soul needs to be drenched in delicious delirium.

In gratitude for those who read and respond to my Spiritualetters, I wish you all 
a life of Thanksgiving. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Arrivals and Arriving

Sometimes I find myself waiting for the new arrivals in my life.

In anticipation, I act as if they have already arrived.

I am inside the experience.

I taste the fruits of my laboring.

I sense the singular successes of my own scripting.

Inevitably, I find myself no longer waiting.

I am in the present tense and always arriving at my destination while welcoming the new arrivals one sumptuous sip at a time. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Our Present and Future Bliss

If you are in the moment, you are in the infinite. -Swami Prajnanpad

How often do we catch ourselves thinking about the near or distant future with a flash of intense longing for what could be?

How often do we catch ourselves refocusing our present and breathing in the wonder of the moment?

All we have is now. All is now. The “now” includes our present and future bliss.

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Uncomfortable Life

Are you willing to be uncomfortable in order to achieve your aspirations?

Take on a new attitude. Call a person you've never met and ask them to help you.

Spend the entire day by yourself because you are your own best friend. Go to a party where you know no one but the host. Make a presentation on a topic you don’t know much about.

Tell someone you love them and wait for their answer. Say “yes" when you really want to say “no.”

Take the plunge, and you will find yourself luxuriating in the warm waters of personal success.

P.S. Join me at a study supper, Moving into Gratitude, on Sunday, November 18, at 4:30 p.m. at the home of Dr. Paul and Nikki Rhodes in Dupont Circle. Contact me by email for more information.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Responsible Soul

Rabbi Hillel the Elder used to say: If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
The individual is responsible for raising his/her consciousness.

Only you can arouse your soul to achieve higher vibrations.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Let the Peace Come

Let the peace come without resistance or confusion
Like the rainbow that uncovers the clouds
We want clarity and contour in our lives.

Let the peace come without palpable precipitation
And without the willful winds that scatter the fallen leaves of autumn.

Let the peace come with bling and bangles
With sparkles and sprinkles
Like a large cupcake.

The calm cascades into the tangy taste of peace.
Claim it. Name it. It is our provision for life.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Crying Spell

What do you do when you see someone crying?

You have only two choices.

Pretend that they are not disturbing your inner peace.

Engage and redirect their tears.

The pregnant lady bound in a wheelchair entered the elevator sobbing. As her tears were seen cascading down her high cheekbones, four adults, plus the hospital escort who stood behind her, ignored her outbursts.

I brushed my leg against the pregnant patient in this cramped compartment.

My anxiety soared so I touched her swollen hand.

“Is this your first child?” I whispered.

“Yes,” she answered in between her ominous outcries.

“It is going to be okay,” I reassure her. “What is your name?”

“Rita,” she sighed in staccato.

“Beautiful, Rita. Breathe in slowly. Breathe out slowly. Slow down. Breathe with me.”

I took her hands and repeated my mantra, “It is going to be okay.”

Rita’s breathing and crying spell slowed to a halt.

The young female hospital escort remained paralyzed in thought and action.

“I need to go now," I said as the elevator arrived at my destination. I turned around and saw Rita looking back at me with a soft smile.

I took a deep breath for Rita and all the Ritas who cry in public spaces.

What do you do when you see someone crying?

There is only one right answer.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Rich in Communities

We long for community and to make lifelong connections.

I have discovered that my world is a kaleidoscope of communities.

Does my circle of communities ever collide in meaningful ways?


But even when they don’t come together, they exist and they support my life’s story.

Are you also rich in communities?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Writing on the Scrolls of Our Lives

Days are like scrolls: Write on them only what you want remembered. -Bahya Ibn Pakuda

“What is your goal for this New Year? Do you have a purpose that you want to define? What are your hopes?” 

My minyan consisted of men and women between the ages of 89 and 99.

One woman in a wheelchair prayed with her eyes closed, but the others were totally awake and aware at the assisted living facility where I offer a High Holiday medley of music and meaning at the beginning of every Jewish New Year.

I want to forgive everyone who has ever hurt me.

I want to tell my children that I love them forever even after I die.

I want to reconcile with my best friend.

I want to write the last chapter of my memoir the way I want it to end.

I want to live fully while I am still alive.

I want those whom I have loved and lost to rest in peace.

Today, we write on the scrolls that will be our Book of Life for the year ahead.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Change, Contribution, Contemplation

The Jewish New Year emphasizes change in three directions.

Teshuva: Repent and return to your highest potential.
Tzedaka: Contributions of money or time that will make a difference
Tefilla: Prayer with noble intentions

May you find meaning in this sacred ritual. May your prayers reach the heavenly spheres. May you be blessed coming and going on your path.

Shana Tova U’mituka!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Teach Me How to Ask

True faith teaches us how to ask.

You begin with your doubts.

You open yourself up to your vulnerabilities.

You ask from the place of authenticity and pain.

Blessings on this New Year 5773. May you fulfill your heart’s desire every day.

Friday, August 31, 2012

How God Works

God does not work in confusion. Clear your ambivalences so God can enter your space.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Photo Album of Life

Sensing a memory while

Returning to my roots

Grounded and untethered


I move like a photo slide show

Different takes for those kaleidoscope karats

We smile knowing

Once we laughed and

We will laugh again.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What is God Praying for You?

"Just call me on my cell. My house can be difficult to find."

I hobbled through the alleyways of the thick cobbled ancient stone in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem. I found an open seating area. I called. In moments, an exuberant, petite, head-scarved woman holding a cell phone next to her ear skirted past me.

"Emunah!" I exclaimed.

"You must be Tamara with the red glasses!"

The conversation continued at a rapid pace as we were both curious about the other.

Emunah had made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel forty years ago from Brooklyn. Fourteen children and two husbands later, she now resides inside the walls of the Old City. She is a believer. Her name, Emunah, means faith. She teaches and practices her faith.

When we arrived at her home, she quickly set up chairs outside for the small gathering of four women and one man that enlarged our intimacy. We ate her home-made oatmeal chocolate bars and drank water to refresh ourselves from the middle eastern summer climate.
Emunah reflected about our personal prayer and the power of God’s prayer.

"It is not about what we want. Think about it. What if God wants to pray for us? What wouldGod pray for? Knowing that God loves us. Knowing that God would want the best for us. What would God want for you?"

God’s prayers for me! Perhaps my prayer requests should come from God’s point of view.

"We are all in God’s shadow. We pray because the Holy One of Discernment prays for us."

As we listened to Emunah’s lessons, the day darkened into a bold night. The illumination from Emunah’s question continues to delight and excite me. What is God praying for me now?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Speaking Another Language

Speaking Hebrew is like learning to sing in a different key. I know the notes and the musical melody, but the attunement needs my utmost attention.

When I speak Hebrew in Israel, I transport myself back to childhood prayers that I memorized. I plunge forward into a contemporary language where new words are created daily.

I am immersed in this Biblical language whether I am asking for a glass of water -- or I am chanting from the Torah during weekday prayers.  

Speaking another language changes your perspective and perhaps your identity.

What I say suddenly matters more.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ta'ali: Go Up!

Accept the prayer of your people as lovingly as it is offered. Restore worship to your sanctuary. -Rosh Chodesh Amidah

Ta’ali . . . al tif’achadi . . . zeh rak anavim. “Go up. Do not be afraid. They are only stones.” The young woman reached for my hand. I ascended the natural bimah at Robinson's Arch.

The Women of the Wall Rosh Chodesh Av morning prayer service began at 7:00 a.m. One-hundred women created a semi-circle in the back of the women’s section at the Western Wall. Our female voices added a sweet soprano sound to the kotel plaza.

Nevertheless, we were under special security. A young policewoman scanned and recorded the proceedings, while another policeman weaved in and out of the crowd, admonishing several young Israeli women to adjust their tallitot: One of our women was detained last month because she wore a masculine type prayer shawl in a “manly” way.

One woman, holding her prayer shawl under her arm, stood on the side.

“Would you like to put on your tallit?”

“No,“ she replied. “I don’t want to be arrested before Shabbat. I wouldn’t get home in time.”

This month, no one was detained. No one was arrested. Sheer serenity.

After reciting Hallel, the special prayers of praise for the new month, we strolled and sang respectfully and reluctantly up to Robinson’s Arch, designed and designated by a decision of the Israeli Supreme Court in 2003 as a place for alternative services. Women can read Torah or wear traditional prayers shawls only there.

When we reached our outdoor sanctuary, we fussed over the presentation of our special possession, the Sefer Torah. Three women read the passages from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 28, directly from the parchment. Another month of grace under fire.

Ta’ali. Al tif’achadi.

Surrounded by this faithful band of fervent followers, I climbed two stone stairs and began Musaf (a special service which honors the additional sacrifice brought to the Temple in ancient times on festival days like Rosh Chodesh). With every bow and blessing, beating drums were heard from the valleys through to the Jerusalem hilltops. The drums provided a tempo for my public chanting of the Amidah.

The sun streamed gold on my head and warmed my body. Reaching into the pocket of my soul’s seam, my voice found a new timbre and attuned itself to this uneven, unorthodox sanctuary where rocks become seats and walls become personal lean-tos.

For 23 years, with the appearance of the new moon, the Women of the Wall have flocked like birds in search of a nesting place that is both holy and historic.

Ten years ago on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, I experienced a spiritual solidarity with Nashot Hakotel (Women of the Wall) for the first time.

Ta’ali. Al tif’achadi.

Now during the second time, I was the vessel for our supplications. Psalm 104 provided the physical landscape for my entreaties. I was in the place where the Psalms were written. The text twittered through me, electrifying my orientation. Looking upward and searching inward, the strong morning sun crowned my insight and voiced my prayerful personal and public vibrations to the Holy One of Blessings.

You make springs gush forth in torrents to flow between the hills.

The high hills are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge.


Women, let us take the high road together. These are our precious stones. Do not be afraid. Reach up. Take my hand.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Acquiring Faith

How do we acquire faith?  Is it a learned behavior from a parent or grandparent? Is it a discovery found in books and lectures? Or do we meet faith at the crossroads of a difficult dilemma? Do we abandon faith when we ourselves feel abandoned?

I believe is more than a statement of faith. It is my daily mantra that plays on several wave
lengths in my mind and on my heart. I practice believing. I acquire faith.

I am in Jerusalem working for The Women of the WallThis Friday morning, July 20, at 7:00 a.m. I will be praying with other women at the Kotel (The Western Wall) as the new Hebrew month of Av is ushered in with special prayers. Please go to the organization's website to understand the religious freedom implications of this issue in Israel. I will report on her experience in next week’s spiritual letter.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jerusalem in the Sun

For with You is the fountain of life; in Your Light, we see Light. Psalm 36

No matter how early I arise, the sun is always waiting for me. With hat and sunglasses, I prepare my body for my 15-minute daily walk to the Hartman Institute. I walk past a playground, an elementary school and a small garden where the roosters call me to the morning’s glory. The streets are narrow and centuries old; the landscape is open and surprisingly contemporary.

I am in Jerusalem where the ever-present sun illuminates my spiritual path.

Friday, June 29, 2012

She Was One of God's Kind

Blessed is the Wise One who holds the Secrets according that there are no two faces which are alike and that their thoughts/opinions are not alike. -a 2000 year old blessing

Amanda Stang Weinberg died on June 13 at age 50 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is survived by her husband, Howard, and her two children, Maya and Benjamin. I counted her as my dear friend.

She was One of God’s Kind.

A Tribute:

Her mother was my best friend and confidante. So when Amanda, her only child, offered to babysit our three “angelic” daughters, we accepted. Even then at the age of 16 Amanda was an atypical babysitter and woman-to-be. From bugtime to upside down popsicles, she brought her whimsical and quizzical demeanor to the girls’ playtime. They sat with Amanda and talked about life’s intricate designs. No make-up or Barbie doll games. Amanda was a no-frills, crunchy granola, birkenstock teenager who was more concerned with the internal mechanisms of the heart than the external packaging of a person’s physical being.

For the thirty five years that we knew her, Amanda did not stray from her authentic self. From college student to single lady in New York City to graduate school videographer to loving wife and mother, Amanda stayed on her life’s inner course. She was a woman of great character who dared to live according to her own scripture.

When the cancer arrived and stayed for five years, Amanda wrote another chapter entitled, "simple courage." Again, she did not shift her attitude on life or her moral compass. Maybe that is what kept us secure in her presence.

May her memory be a blessing and may her unique soulprint be forged in our hearts for eternity.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Perpetual Movements for Life

My life is in perpetual physical motion. I ride my building’s elevator. I board a bus. I step into the metro. I fly on a plane. I transport myself by train. I reserve a ZipCar. I am driven.

Simultaneously, my life is in perpetual spiritual motion.   I pray. I meditate. I reflect.  I chant.  I sing. I study holy texts.

And sometimes, I dance into my soul’s footprints.

These are the movements of my body and soul on weekdays.

When the Sabbath arrives,  I cycle into high spiritual gear where I remain perpetually motionless.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Blessed is the City and the Country

Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Deuteronomy 28:3

I love the city.

The pulse, the rush, the rhythm of people’s footstep flowing nowhere and everywhere.

I love the country too.

The quiet ecstasy of God’s creations scattered across the rolling hills of verdant verve.

I love them both equally like a mother’s love for her two children, both unique, both distinct, both beautiful.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Prayers of Elevation

There are two prayers that transform us.

The prayer of gratitude and the prayer of forgiveness.

Climb the mountain of gratitude while saying "Thank you!" all the way up.

On your way down, journey towards forgiving yourself and say I am sorry to one other person.

Elevate both prayers in your life religiously.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Don't Stop Believing

Faith is constantly forming a circle around our hearts.

We want to believe, but sometimes we lose our way inside the doubt maze.

Faith is constantly forming a circle around our hearts.

Reach out beyond the spheres of your knowing.

Circle around your heart. Faith is inside.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Reciprocal Receiving

The Western Wall beckoned at the beginning of the new Hebrew month of Kislev, 5760.

I was studying at the Conservative Yeshiva for a month and residing at the Ratisbonne, a French Catholic monastery in the heart of downtown Jerusalem. My neighbor for the month was a sixty year old nun from South Africa named Trudy.

Although I had lived in Israel and visited there many times, I had never ventured into the Holy Sepulchre where the Tomb of Jesus resided. Trudy, who had been in Israel nine months, had never experienced the Western Wall, known in Israel as the Kotel. We made a deal on that rainy early morning in December that we would share each other’s holy places.

Trudy and I awoke before dawn and started the 30-minute walk to the Old City. We wanted to be present for the Rosh Chodesh morning prayers that are being sustained  by the Women of the Wall, an organization of religiously and socially diverse women who come together once a month on the New Moon at the Western Wall. We reached the Kotel and immediately gazed at the gathering of women on the separated women’s section of the Western Wall. In lullaby hush tones we heard the singing and chanting of some sixty women. We drew closer to this monthly prayer circle. We lingered with them in a bittersweet prayer cocoon for twenty minutes. Like pregnant women getting ready to give birth, they packed their prayer books and the Sefer Torah (the Scroll that held the Five Books of Moses) in anticipation of their journey towards motherhood.

Since the religious municipality that governs the Wall prohibits women from chanting directly from the Sefer Torah’s scroll, the women journey half a mile to a more secluded and less public space known as Robinson's arch.

The ancient space offered a stone carved table for our precious Sefer Torah. Several women unwrapped the scroll from a large blue duffel bag, and like a newborn baby, they placed her gently and lovingly on this changing table.

The rain turned sun reigned on us; the chatter turned silence shone inside. Trudy and I watched and waited for the next prayer chapter.

As the women prepared the sacred scroll for the reading, they asked if anyone would like to come up and receive an aliya, an honor.

I scanned the women's faces, absorbed the question and hesitated before I answered. "Yes, I would like an aliya."

The woman standing next to me was wearing a special "Women of the Wall" tallit embroidered with the names of the four matriarchs on each corner.

"May I borrow your tallit for my aliya?" I asked this stranger pleading as I spoke.

"Yes, but of course," came her quick unequivocal reply.

The tallit made my aliya complete. This slow holy motion moment remains in my memory.
I returned to my place next to Trudy and removed the tallit from my shoulders. I thanked this beautiful lady for her generosity.

"What a wonderful way to inaugurate my  new tallit with your blessings.  This is my first time wearing it. Thank you."

"You are the blessing," I said.

Sometimes what we need someone else has to give.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother Dreams

In honor of all who appreciate their mothers:

Whenever I dream about my mother

I remember everything and nothing at the same time

She is present and talking to me

She is distant and calling me to draw near

I continue our special relationship

In the hope that I will never lose sight of all she taught me

And all that she gave so I could live as a woman of promise.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Make a Choice

Are there only “right” and “wrong” choices?

Perhaps there are many “right” choices we can make... all of them aligned with our destiny.

It’s not about making the “right” choice; it’s about making a choice.

Would we be less cautious and more open to opportunities if we were certain that there would be no negative outcomes?

Today make one choice. Go down many paths tomorrow. Then you will know which ones to stay with and which ones to back track on.

Make a choice free from fear. Just choose. Observe the open fields.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mind Your Thoughts

Persistent positive thoughts pave the way towards powerful deeds.

Grasp gratitude graciously. Determine your daily desire. Pierce into the heart of your prayer.

Mind them.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Not Everything Went My Way

Not everything went my way today.

A client cancellation. A missed phone call. A delayed medical appointment. An unexpected bill. A misplaced document.

Not everything went my way today.

The rainy forecast never came. A thank you note appeared in my mail box. My neighbors came in for tea and cookies. A deep conversation evolved with someone I hardly knew.

Like any day, it holds both opportunity and an attitude of acceptance.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Freedom to Be Together: My Passover Message

It is a long journey into the two nights of questioning, but with no other place to be, an overflowing food buffet, and an abundance of wine and grape juice, my family celebrated the blessing of Passover togetherness.

As we entered the Exodus story, the grandchildren performed an impromptu play and became  the Hebrew slaves who invaded Pharaoh’s palace. Moses and Aaron led the “Occupy the Palace” protest.

Moses (played by Ilana, my nine year old granddaughter who was costumed in a flowing robe, a magic stick, and last year’s rubber snake) entreated Pharaoh in Biblical style: “Let my people go!” Seconds later, three-year-old Benjamin moved towards Sivan, the twelve-year-old Pharaoh, with a voice that reached to Egypt and beyond, repeated the mantra: “Let my people go!”

Soon, the masses (all 12 children present) followed Benjamin’s call for freedom, and within minutes, Pharaoh relinquished control over his slaves with the final command: “Go! Get out of my sight!”

Hallelujah! Together we fled the land of our constriction and misery, and together we crossed over the Red Sea and sang the final song of gratitude. Next year let us be together again in freedom.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Rainbow Connection

When was the last time you saw a double rainbow? A rainbow so bold and so bright that you believed again in the Creator.

It was five o’clock in the afternoon, and we were methodically putting together Hebrew phrases before chanting the Torah blessings. Isaac will have  his bar mitzvah in a few months.

“Look! A rainbow,” he said and bolted from the table to the window and then to the front door.

I followed swiftly in search of his rainbow connection. He couldn’t get enough rainbow time, and I couldn’t get enough of him getting enough rainbow time.

If only I could transfer his exuberance for the rainbow to his Torah.

The rainbow’s arch filled the sky. We captured the sign. Perhaps that was enough Torah for the day.

I wish for you all a meaningful Seder and a kosher Passover.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Under the Chuppah with God

Whenever I officiate at a wedding, I invite my own guest to stand with me under the chuppah.

God chants with me, chuckles with me, whispers the vows with me as together we bestow blessings on the loving couple.

The fuller my relationship with God, the more authentic my rabbinate becomes.

Last week as I witnessed the making of another Jewish marriage, I reached deep
into my spiritual well to create a holy matrimonial memory.

God agitated for love and laughter.

I obliged.