…kulam b’chochmah asita…


I walked to the beach this morning to watch the sun rise, fully intending to chant multiple parts of the morning prayer service.

As I crossed the footbridge, I noticed the moon in the western sky and breathed: “Baruch Atah, Adonai, yotzer ham’orot.” (Blessed are You, Adonai, Creator of the lights.)

As the sun slipped over the horizon, I said: “Mah rabu ma’asecha, Adonai, kulam b’chochmah asita.” (How numerous are Your works, Adonai, in wisdom, You made them all.)

And then, as I stood in awe at the waves crashing over my feet and the changing color of the sky, I found myself feeling a bit like a character in an old Chasidic story. In the story, a boy arrived at shul on Rosh Hashanah and didn’t know any of the prayers, so he recited the Aleph-bet over and over. When the elders of the congregation heard him, they began to chastise him and lead him out of the shul, but the Ba’al Shem Tov stopped the elders and told them that the young boy’s sincerity had raised his prayers to Heaven and surely Gd could make the words from the boy’s letters…

… and I had intended to pray multiple prayers but standing there in the surf, the only words I could find were: “kulam b’chochmah asita” (in wisdom You created them all)… and so, like that little boy, I just kept repeating the phrase, hoping my sincerity would render my prayers sufficient.

When I finally looked down at the sand, I saw a ladybug walking toward me. And ladybugs are, for me, a symbol that my Granny and her unconditional love remain with me, even though she passed away more than seven years ago.

And in that moment I knew, my sincerity and three Hebrew words had been enough…

shavua tov, may it be a good week, for everyone, jen

T’horah Hi! (It’s Pure!)


T’horah Hi! (It’s Pure!)

Reaching for You
as the morning birds sing,
their song helping me
find Your Grace,
that wide open space
where Abundance reigns
over fear, grief, and anger,
where Your Love
washes tattered souls clean.

Elohai n’shamah shenatata bi t’horah hi.
My God, the soul you gave me is pure.

I turn toward You


I turn toward You

Each breath
Each moment
I turn toward You
And pray that I’ll find
You’ve turned toward me too.

Abundant in Compassion,
Astonishing Grace,
Bless me, Eternal One,
with the Light of your Face.
Make Sacred the mundane.
Let Your Love carry me through.
Blind me with the Beauty
of a world filled with You.

carry us Home


carry us Home

There is a Love,
warm like the sun,
that melts all troubles away,
that fills up a room
so that we might float,
that turns night into
the brightest of days.

Please, Eternal Gd,
grace us with Your Love,
wrap us all in Your Joy,
that we might dance
to the rhythm of the Universe
and Your Love might carry us Home.

“Elohai, n’tzor”


The first half of January was very busy for me (hence my blog silence until recently), but I finally had a little break last week. I flew to sunny South Florida on Wednesday to celebrate a friend’s simcha on Shabbat.

After selecting my rental car, I headed to my friend’s synagogue to say hello and have lunch with her. Then, while she worked into the evening, I grabbed a few books and headed to a picnic table to sit in the sun and study . . . whatever I found that intrigued me!

As I paged through a prayerbook — sort of absent-mindedly reviewing for the Hebrew Prayer Class that I’m teaching on Sunday mornings over the next few months — I found a prayer called “Elohai, n’tzor” that I do not remember ever chanting at a prayer service. The prayerbook I was holding did not have an English translation, so I decided to spend my afternoon with a Hebrew-English dictionary to see if I could translate it.

As I sat in the sun translating, I was amused by a strange little insect that I’d never before seen. Although I kept moving “him” to another part of the table, he repeatedly made his way back to my white sheet of paper to sun himself with me. Thankfully, he didn’t bite or sting, so my only concern was not smashing him accidentally!

When my friend found me mid-afternoon, she pointed out that she had many prayerbooks that contained the English translation of “Elohai, n’tzor.” I reminded her that I’d like to be fluent in Hebrew and need to practice translating. She smiled appreciatively at my geekiness and left me to my studies.

At one point, a monarch butterfly flew past me and landed in the grass. Butterflies are absent from the Midwest right now, so I took a break from translating to watch it flutter in the sun.

A few hours later, when I got sufficiently frustrated with the remaining Hebrew verbs that I couldn’t force to make logical sentences, I found a prayerbook with an English translation of “Elohai, n’tzor.” Given how long it had been since I last translated prayerbook Hebrew, I was pleasantly surprised that I had properly translated more than 50% of the prayer! Perhaps there is still hope for my being a fluent translator of Hebrew!!

For those others who might not know, here’s what “Elohai, n’tzor” says in English:

I hope that January has been gentle on everyone and that each of you has also found a few moments to connect to Gd’s glorious creation and learn something new, jen

Please bring me this day


Please bring me this day

I want to live a moment
when I truly know You,
when all of me swims
in the depths of You,
when I’m no longer reaching
for I’m already held,
Your Love washing over me
’til I’m unable to make sound.

I want to breathe in Your breath
and push when You pull,
to walk in sync with
Your sacred steps,
to know there’s no moment
when We are not One,
when I cannot look and find You.

Please bring me this day, Gd,
as I’m praising Your name
and sanctifying this mortal life,
for in Your Wisdom You placed me
right here inside You
that I might let go of my self,
and thereby become
more able to love others,
who thru You are a part of my Self.