“the wisdom of self-acceptance”


watching the sunset with my son 😊

The man who has learned the wisdom of self-acceptance, who tries to know himself and live with the self he has, whose religion spurs him on to greater perfection but urges him at the same time to acknowledge his limits, such a man has the capacity of love in his heart and he can bring it to others.  

——Rabbi Louis Jacobs

May this day of Yom Kippur, this Shabbat of Shabbats, when we stand before God and ask forgiveness for the mistakes of our past, bring each of us more “wisdom of self-acceptance” so that we might have love in our hearts and be ready to share it freely with others who may not yet know that they are perfect despite their imperfection and loved unconditionally by their Creator. 

gmar chatima tovah, jen

Yom Kippur children’s service 5778


Good morning, friends! How many of you remembered to bring back your kippot today?

Great! And does anyone remember why I wanted you to bring the kippot back today???

Yes! Because they are bright white in the middle.

Your new kippot are bright white to remind you that the soul you received from Gd is pure. It is, as the Great Chasidic Masters said, like this clear pane of glass … it can allow Gd’s Love and Light, Joy and Happiness to shine through you to all the other people around you.
(shine flashlight through window)

Now, a few minutes ago, all together, we read a list of mistakes that each of us may have made this past year. What do you think happens to our clean souls when we make a mistake? Any guesses?

Well… mistakes put a smudge on our clean souls… So who can think of a mistake that someone might have made this year? Can you name any of the ones we said earlier?
(add smudge for each mistake named)

Oh my goodness, friends, look at what has happened to our pure soul with all those mistakes!! Are we able to share Gd’s Light with others when we are covered with all those mistakes?
(attempt to shine light)

And sometimes, after we make mistakes, we say mean things about ourselves, and you know what that does? It just adds more dirt! That’s not helpful!!
(smudge again)

It’s got to be really hard to get around and be happy with all that dirt on our souls!
(try to look thru window to walk)

So what should we do????

What would you do with the window?

Yes! We would clean the window! And just like the window, we can clean our souls. In fact, that is the process we are here to complete today on Yom Kippur. Our Tradition tells us there are three Jewish activities we can use to clean our souls — Teshuva, Tefillah, and Tzedakah.
(show them 3 bottles)

Can anyone tell me what Teshuva, or Tefillah, or Tzedakah is?

Teshuvah is a Hebrew word that means “turn” … it is about looking inside ourselves, regretting our mistakes, and deciding that we don’t want to make those mistakes again.

Tefillah, as we said earlier in the service, is prayer. It is a chance to tell Gd we are sorry for our past mistakes and to ask Gd to help us not make mistakes in the future.

Tzedakah is giving to others, right? It’s what we do when we put coins in our Tzedakah Box and donate it to charity.

Now, who wants to help me show what happens when we engage in Tesuvah, Tefillah, and Tzedakah? To help, you have to choose which activity you would do.
(kids spray window with one of three bottles, I wipe)

Wow! Look at that, friends!! Our window is clean… and the same thing happens with our souls. We can clean them off from our previous mistakes and once again be able to share more Love and happiness with others.  And without all that dirt, we are less likely to make mistakes.

So, if you can think of any mistakes that you’ve made in the last year, and if you haven’t said you’re sorry, then today is your chance to apologize and ask Gd to help you do better in the next year, so that you can share more Love with your friends and family.


hopefully it’ll go as well as Rosh Hashanah!!
g’mar chatimah tovah, jen

Do you ever wonder?


Do you ever wonder?

Do you ever wonder
what we’d have discovered
if you had been open to me?

I believe there are Truths
that can’t be found alone
for they rest in spaces-between,
in moments of friendship,
laughter and Love,
of Torah argued b’shaim Hashamayim,
for when souls partner together with Gd
they can harness timeless-time
and learn wisdom heretofore unknown.

So I often wonder:

What Truths would we have discovered
if you had been open to me?

Friends — In Pirke Avot 4:1 we are told:  

“Who is the wise one? He who learns from all men, as it says, ‘I have acquired understanding from all my teachers’ (Psalms 119:99).”

To learn “from all men,” we must be open to receiving the message that each person offers.  We must be willing to engage others honestly and as our “best selves,” without being defensive or afraid. 

Opening ourselves to others is not an easy task to accomplish — Lord knows I’ve failed at it countless times in just the last year!! — but it is a task with which we must repeatedly challenge ourselves if we wish to truly understand ourselves, others, and Life itself.   

g’mar chatima tova, jen


Casting Shadows: a Shabbat Shuva reflection


Sometimes bodies made of water become so dense and dark that they cast shadows in the light that could have passed through them. 

The goal of a spiritual life (while living in these bodies that are 3/4 water) is to not cast shadows.  Instead, we must work every day to let the Light and Love pass through us to all those we encounter.  

Shavua tov, jen

Happy New Year!!!!



I’ve started putting my seventeen years as a professional writer and editor to use as an editor of High Holiday sermons for a Rabbi that I know.  She pays me in my favorite “currency” . . . BOOKS!!!  🤗  She’s collecting a stack for me at her house, and these four arrived from Amazon in the last two days.   

I feel spoiled!!!!   Not only am I learning more about the topics of her sermons, I’m also getting to study the source texts with her and learn more about the sermon-drafting process.  I’m accustomed to writing for readers, so it’s interesting to see how writing for a listening audience is different.  

It’s been a great learning experience AND I’m getting some reference books that I’ve been wanting for a while . . . definitely a Happy New Year!!

I led a 45-minute Rosh Hashanah service for children and their families at my synagogue yesterday morning.  Approximately twenty adults and fifteen kids between ages one and nine attended.  I feel really blessed to have been able to lead the service!   I’ll paste my “sermon” below, for those who care to see what lesson I taught the kids in about 10 of the 45 minutes.  

 Shabbat shalom to all!!!  May you be sealed in the Book of Life for a healthy and happy year,  jen



Rosh Hashanah 5778 (2017)

Come on up, kids! Let’s have a story and discission!!

 I’m so happy and excited that our calendar has brought us back to the first day of another new Year! And I thought it might be fun to talk a few minutes about some truly awesome things that we should look for in the New Year… does that sound like a good idea?

All right, well, let’s start at the beginning… the VERY beginning… five-thousand seven-hundred seventy-eight Jewish years ago. Can anyone tell me what happened on the VERY FIRST Rosh Hashanah?
On the day we consider the first day EVER?

Yes! Gd began creating the world!! Gd separated the Light from the dark and the water from the sky. Gd removed the water from dry land, put plants and creeping things on the land, put the sun and moon and stars in space, put fish in the water and birds in the sky, and finally created all the animals that live on dry land, including humans. On Rosh Hashanah 5778 Jewish years ago, Gd started the process that led to the creation of me and you and you and you and everyone who is here today. Isn’t that amazing?!?!?

And this ongoing process of creation contains some really awesome Wonders that I thought we could read about today.


What other things have you seen in Nature that made you say “Wow! Look at that???”

Those are great examples!!!

If we are looking, we can find things in Nature every day that make us say “Wow!”, and each time we see one of these Wonders… our Jewish tradition tells us we should say a blessing.

Who remembers the special phrase that is at the beginning of all our blessings? We’ve already said it a few times here today, and we say it before we have juice or challah…

Right!! Our Blessings begin with “Baruch Atah Adonai” … and this book tells us the blessing for seeing Wonders in Creation is: “Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Mekech Haolam, oseh ma’aseh b’resheet” which means “Thank you, Gd, for making this process of creation!!”

So this year, when you see a pretty flower, I want you to say “Thank you, Gd, for making Creation.” And when you see a colorful sky, I want you to say “Thank you, Gd, for making Creation.” And when you see a rainbow or the Ocean, what will you say?

Good! What if you see a really ugly creepy bug that kinda scares you?

And when you see yourself in the mirror???

What about when you see someone in your family?

Do you think you can do that this year?

Great! Because the more blessings you say, the more blessings you’ll begin to see… and you’ll have a happier year…

Now, to help you remember to say thank yous every day, I have a little surprise for you. Who can tell me what this is?

Yes, its a Yarmukle or Kippah. And each of you can take one from the bowl. I want you to keep that kippah in a place where you’ll see it every day — like your bedside table, or your chair at the dinner table, or in your backpack — so it can remind you to say Thank You for all the awesome Wonders you find in Creation.  Okay? 

Now. One last note about your kippot… please bring them back on Yom Kippur, because we are going to learn together why they are so white in the middle! Can you do that for me? Great!  Thank you!   You can go back to your parents now.  

a question we can ask


If every end is a beginning
and every beginning an end,
then, really, we are always in the middle.

“In the middle of WHAT?”
is a question we can ask
to become fully aware of No End.


“No End” is used here as a name of Gd and is similar in form to a Hebrew name of Gd, Ain Sof, which means “without end.” 
shavua tov, jen

wandering, not lost!


“My father was a wandering Aramean”

but he was not lost

He had heard the call 

Lech Lecha!” 

and was traveling to a place he would be shown, 

from which he could hear another call


and would have a new response


May we all be as blessed as our father!!


This Shabbat, may we each wander toward our Self, so that we might be ready to answer “Heneini!”
shabbat shalom, jen