Or Hatzadik 


Or Hatzadik means “The Light of the Righteous” and . . . it feels like an appropriate day to share a song that I’ve appreciated for a number of years — Or Hatzadik by Yosef Karduner.   

Praying righteous people of every race, nation, and religion shine Light that will help us all find our way to lasting peace and prosperity that can be shared by all people, jen 



In May, I attended one morning of a four-day festival of faiths. The session I chose to attend began with a Shaikh teaching about Sufi practice and then leading prayer for all those in attendance.   

Sufism is the inner, spiritual, mystical dimension of Islam. The goal of Sufism is to help individuals develop the ability to be present in the current moment and to love unconditionally, and the path to developing those qualities is a form of meditation that encourages the remembrance of Gd with every breath.  

As I listened to the Shaikh speak, I began to see many, many similarities between Sufism and my Jewish beliefs and practice… which includes meditation and devekut, the constant awareness of Gd’s presence… and I began to intellectually understand why my heart was drawn to the writings of Sufi poets like Jelaluddin Rumi, Shams Tabriz, and Rabi’a al-Adawiyya.  

Outside the auditorium where the Shaikh spoke was a book fair. There, I found a book entitled “Shalom/Salaam: A Story of a Mystical Fraternity” by Thomas Block (Fons Vitae 2010). Block spent more than a decade gathering research about historical accounts of Sufis and mystical Jews studying together, and his book attempts to share those accounts beginning with Medieval Egypt. 

My day at the festival, finding Block’s book, beginning to have a better intellectual understanding of Islam, being moved by prayer with a shaikh . . . all of it reminded me of the lesson I received nearly a decade ago on the Temple Mount, when the Muslim man from East Jerusalem talked with me and prayed that Muslims and Jews would return to seeing one another as family and living in peace, because we have more that unites us than divides us. 

My summer schedule, and then the fall Jewish holidays, have kept me too busy to read as much as I had wanted of Block’s book, but now I’m ready to settle in for the winter.  I’ve got Block’s book and a Qur’an, and I’m really excited to see what I learn in this next leg of my Jewish Journey!!  

shavua tov, a good week, to all, jen

And I wonder . . .


The Lord is in me, the Lord is in you, as life is in every seed. O servant! put false pride away, and seek for Him within you.

A million suns are ablaze with light, The sea of blue spreads in the sky, The fever of life is stilled, and all stains are washed away; when I sit in the midst of that world.

Hark to the unstruck bells and drums! Take your delight in love! Rains pour down without water, and the rivers are streams of light. One Love it is that pervades the whole world, few there are who know it fully:

They are blind who hope to see it by the light of reason, that reason which is the cause of separation— The House of Reason is very far away!

How blessed is Kabîr, that amidst this great joy he sings within his own vessel. It is the music of the meeting of soul with soul; It is the music of the forgetting of sorrows; It is the music that transcends all coming in and all going forth.

Excerpt From: Kabir. “Songs of Kabir.” iBooks. 

And I wonder…

if I 

-raised a Baptist, Jew by choice- 

can find holiness in the words of Kabir 

-self-professed child of both Allah and Ram-

… why is there strife between Sunni and Shia??  Muslim and Jew??  any two people based on religious difference??

As Kabir said above, G-d is in all of us.  If we put away our false pride, we will see…


with prayers for peace, jen

The Holy G-d of Unity


The Holy G-d of Unity
When the curtain was dropped,
‘I’ had to bow before ‘me,’
for ‘me’ lives eternally in
the One who was, is, will be.
No more of the rat race
–the quest for more things.
A simple life of contemplation
–the deep joy that it brings.
My books and a mattress
are all that I need.
Learning to ignore ‘wants’
so my soul is fully freed
to live as G-d directs
with love and not fear,
surrounded by others
to whom G-d is dear,
regardless their religion
or the name by which they call
The Holy G-d of Unity,
the One who animates us all.


b’shalom, jen

“all the ‘good books’ in the world agree…”


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Torah’s repeated instruction to care for (e.g., respect, love, leave corners of the field for, not oppress) the stranger because we were strangers in the land of Egypt.   

The Torah’s instruction sounds so simple.  In fact, I think it’s something most people who’ve ever read this blog would agree they aspire to do… care about and show respect for those who are different from whomever each of us is.  

But, as it turns out, being respectful of others can be really hard to accomplish consistently in the chaos of daily life.  Life is busy, and we are in a hurry, and things sure would be simpler if everyone thought about everything exactly as we do!!  Then, people wouldn’t be different from us, and we wouldn’t feel an urge to fear them.  

Maybe that’s why Torah kept repeating the instruction…

I found this song recently — Melissa Etheridge singing “A Little Bit of Me” — that’s been another reminder for me to have patience with others who are different from me.  If you listen carefully, you can find out what all the ‘good books’ agree about!   😃
what a different world it would be if we could all remember…jen


translating Torah into reality


photograph of picture in 1925 -1926 United Palestine Appeal

And let a man keep himself pure of hating his neighbor, as it is written: Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart.” [Leviticus 19:17].  And our masters, blessed be their memory, said: The second sanctuary–there were the Torah and good works, yet why was it destroyed?  Because of the groundless hatred that was among men. [Yoma 9 b].   And groundless hatred brings a man within reach of many transgressions of the Torah. Our masters, blessed be their memory, said: “‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’–that is the essence of the Torah.” [Midrash Genesis Rabbah XXIV, quoting Leviticus 19:18].   For through the love of one’s neighbor and through peace, Israel translates the Torah into reality.

Jonah ben Abraham Gerondi
Spain, 13th Century

As quoted at 160, In Time and Eternity: a Jewish Reader, edited by Nahum N Glatzer (Shocken Books: New York 1946).

The news from Turkey yesterday has me reeling again.  More innocent blood shed.

And yet I know that the great men of the Rabbinic Assembly, the “masters” of whom Jonah spoke, were correct — Hate is not the answer.   Hate begets more hate and will only continue the cycle of meaningless violence.

Neither must our answer be apathy, indifference, or acceptance of the status quo — because resigning ourselves to live in a world that includes continuing acts of terror is the equivalent of deciding not to create the love and peace commanded by Torah and desired by G-d.

The only road that truly might move us “forward” is a compassionate road.  Our answer must be, always and only, to speak and act from a place of Love.

From where I live, I cannot literally repair damage done in other states or countries, but I can commit to repairing the world around me on behalf of those whose lives were shattered.  I can show respect and compassion to every person I meet today.  I can donate blood to save a life.  I can look a homeless person in the eye and hand him (or her) a sandwich. I can be supportive of others trying to spread messages of hope, peace, and love.  I can, in other words, make a conscious choice to reach for the “highest” version of myself that I can imagine.

For only when enough of us commit to being the highest versions of ourselves, so that as a large community we share unconditional love with all others and are at peace with all humankind, will we decrease groundless hatred and truly translate Torah into reality.

with prayers for peace, jen