“find the good”


Two and a half years ago, a Rabbi explained to me that, if I wished to be a Hassid, my goal was to “find the good” in every circumstance that life brought my way — not just in the birth of my sons and moments on a mountain or a beach, but even in the calculation of my taxes.

I laughed and told her that I didn’t really think that would be possible. Yet, somehow, I’ve never forgotten her message, and I’ve continued looking for “the good,” even in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Last weekend, as I stood on a ten-foot ladder cleaning out gutters, the smell of the fermenting leaves activated a memory pathway in my brain, and I realized that rotting leaves smell strikingly similar to pig manure.  I wondered whether there might be a blog topic in the amazing way our neocortex attaches smells to memories or, better yet, in the way decomposing plant matter smells the same regardless the method of decomposition —

How’s that for a new twist on
“It’s All One!”???   🙂

I wasn’t sure I’d figure out a topic — after all, I told myself, either of those ideas might require some explanation about why this Jew spent days as a child shoveling manure out of a pig barn . . . but I decided that I’d take a picture just in case I wrote a post . . .

Why a picture? Because the week before, during lunch, a good friend joked with me: “I read your blog, but just for the pictures, so you should include more pictures.”  I was laughing about that conversation as I pulled out my phone to take a picture . . .

And, suddenly, there IT was . . . “the good”!! . . . I was standing on a ten-foot ladder putting my hands in wet leaves that smelled like pig manure and I was laughing at the infinite connections between my past and present; myself, the rabbi, and my friend; the leaves, the corn, the pigs, and the gutters. In that moment, I again could see so clearly that EVERYTHING is connected!!!

I’m still not consistently able to “find the good,” but I’ve come to understand that, for everyone, the goal is not as easy to accomplish as we might wish. Perhaps the point is that we just keep looking . . .

shavua tov, jen

ps. and for my dear friend who joked she just reads these posts for the pictures . . . for whom I am grateful because, by joking with me, she helped me remember not to take myself so seriously . . . here’s a picture of my clean gutter:






giving thanks



On this Thanksgiving Day, when so many around me seem to have struggled recently, I pause to consciously remind myself that — despite the frustrations and the sadness that each of us experiences on this journey we call ‘Life’ — to be a person with faith in the One Almighty G-d is to hold on to the hope that springs forth eternally and to continue believing that, somehow, with the love of our family, our friends, and our faith communities we can indeed heal ourselves, each other, and this broken world.

While none of us can live a life that is completely free from heartache or pain,
may G-d grant us the stamina to keep looking for, and the wisdom to see, the blessings that we do receive.

Praying everyone had a day filled with Love, jen


the face of Unconditional Love


The face of Unconditional Love . . . such a beautiful sight to see! If every person could see it each day what a different world this would be. Who among us couldn’t use a vision of Love that sweet? To believe we are forever accepted, whatever circumstances we meet.

Is anyone willing to accept the task of training to be One who stands with an open heart as hate and anger burn like the sun? Who among us has the strength to show others the path to peace? To give of yourself when others could not, from Love that will never cease?

To change the world we’ll need an army of people just like these. People willing to sacrifice the hearts upon their sleeves. People who know that hate is fear and anger is just a defense for those who can’t yet feel the Love, infinite and heaven sent.

I tell you, my friends, a day will come when this army will arise, when Love will prevail and Oneness will be visible to all eyes.  I believe it’s true for I’ve experienced visions of Love that sweet, from angels who try to hand that Love to everyone they meet.


praying Shabbat brings shalom, jen




Think! Don’t think! Either way, be enlightened!!

According to Dictionary.com,

“Enlightenment” (with a capital E) comes from the Hindu or Buddhist word “prajna,” which means “pure and unqualified knowledge” . . .
“The Enlightenment” is “a philosophical movement of the 18th century, characterized by belief in the power of human reason.”

To obtain Enlightenment, Hindus and Buddhists meditate, with the goal being to quiet the mind, to -in essence- stop thinking so that deeper, universal wisdom can be perceived . . .

which means that . . .

One can experience
Enlightenment (unqualified knowledge)
only if one accepts
the inadequacy of
The Enlightenment (human reasoning).

So, whether you should think or not think depends on the kind of knowledge you want, but either way, you can claim you are enlightened!!

Is that not awesome???
(and, yes, I am a geek!)

Shabbat shalom, jen

The Grace of the Guru


The Grace of the Guru is like an ocean. If one comes with a cup he will only get a cupful. It is no use complaining of the [inadequacy] of the ocean. The bigger the vessel the more one will be able to carry. It is entirely up to him.

—Ramana Maharshi

And what relevance, one might ask, does this quote about a Hindu Guru have for my Jewish Journey?

Well, Ramana Maharshi also explained:
Guru, God, and Self are One.

Thus, Maharshi’s quote about the Guru’s Grace reminds me that G-d’s Grace is unfathomably large, and if I am unable to feel it, that is not because G-d is unavailable. I must “clear out the clutter” within me so that I am capable of carrying G-d’s Grace, because — even if I were completely empty — G-d’s Grace is much much larger than I could ever carry . . .

shavua tov, jen

a thought for Shabbat


Our existence as embodied beings is purely momentary; what are a hundred years in eternity? But if we shatter the chains of egotism, and melt into the ocean of humanity, we share its dignity. To feel that we are something is to set up a barrier between God and ourselves; to cease feeling that we are something is to become one with God.


Excerpt from Dass, Ram. “Be Here Now (Enhanced Edition).” HarperCollins, 2010-10-26. iBooks.

shabbat shalom, jen

Hannah Senesh


In all of my Jewish studies, one “character” has most intrigued me — Hannah Senesh, a Hungarian Jew who made aliyah to Israel but then died at the age of 23 when she volunteered to parachute back into Nazi territory to help save other Jews. Senesh is known not just for her heroism, but also for the beautiful and moving poetry she wrote, some of which has been set to music and become part of Jewish liturgy worldwide.

Today, because this week marks the 70th anniversary of her death, Rabbi Joshua Weinberg posted an article about Senesh on the internet. His article contains a “new” poem by Senesh — found only two years ago in a desk drawer!

The new poem is entitled “Hora to a Daughter of the Exile” . . . and its content left me seeing Senesh more as a Kabbalist than as a secular kibbutznik.  I am sure that Senesh was . . . just like all the rest of us . . . more complicated and contradictory than any of our simplistic labels could ever convey . . . and I am grateful that Rabbi Weinberg gave all of us a chance to see her with new depth and dimension.

I hope you’ll read and enjoy:


Praying your days are filled with blessings, jen