Happy New Year!!!!

ב׳׳ה

 

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

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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.

[READ WONDERS OF NATURE]


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.  

as galaxies unfurl

ב׳׳ה

as galaxies unfurl
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As day turns into night
and night back into day,
The Mystery is there
if we choose to be aware.
If we open our hearts
to the possibility of The Unity,
we can stand at the edge of infinity
as we watch galaxies unfurl.

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1:23 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


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1:58 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


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2:21 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


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2:27 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


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2:28 pm CST (unfiltered total eclipse)


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2:28 pm CST (unfiltered sun returns)


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2:30 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


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Friends–  These photos that I took yesterday with my cell phone in Bowling Green, Kentucky, are not meant to inspire you with their accuracy, clarity, or quality.  They are simply my attempt to share with you the experience of waiting and watching the unfolding of a natural phenomenon that was truly awe inspiring!!  

That Science has explained to us the “how” and “why” of eclipses does not, in my mind, make them any less a “religious” experience. Not very often, in this country flooded with light-pollution, am I able to show my sons the Milky Way or a star-filled sky.  But yesterday, we could stand together with a large crowd of mostly strangers and be reminded how very small we are, how dependent we are on the sun, how miraculous it is that moon is the right size and distance from the Earth to completely block the light from the sun, how lucky we are to be alive and able to witness such amazing moments . . . and that we are truly blessed and most surely ought to be grateful!! 

If you ever have a chance to witness a total solar eclipse, I highly recommend it!!  

And may we all find more moments that inspire awe and remind us to express gratitude to The Miraculous Mystery that is always there, hiding within and behind the rational answers provided by science, jen
 

Grateful to the angel

ב׳׳ה

Rabbi Simon said,  

“There is no plant without an angel in Heaven tending it and telling it, ‘Grow!'”

Genesis Rabba 10:7. 

A couple of months ago, there was a small thistle plant near the back gate of my patio.  And I was going to pull it out, as my boys and I use the back gate to access community green space and tennis courts.  But then, one morning, I noticed a rabbit eating the thistle plant’s leaves, and I decided we humans could step around the little thistle.  

Rabbit leaving after a thistle snack

Then, as the thistle grew and we began to get scratched on thorns when we used the door, baby rabbits began to visit, so I absolutely could not remove the “weeds” that were attracting them!!!  

Baby rabbit

After much rain and sun, and the urging of its angel in Heaven, the thistle now covers most of the walkway and is five feet (1.5 m) tall!  

And it blooms really beautiful purple flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees to drink from them…

And a rabbit still visits regularly, although I’m not sure if it’s the original adult or a grow-up baby…


My lease requires me to “maintain” my patio area, so I’m expecting my landlord to stop by one of these days and demand that I remove the thistle.  I doubt she would be swayed by my story of rabbits and the thistle’s angel in Heaven… but until it’s required, I’ll going to keep thanking the angel who grew the thistle that has brought so much beauty and life to our patio this summer!

shavua tov, a good week, to all, jen

Dust and Ashes

ב׳׳ה

Dust and Ashes
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I’m just dust and ashes, but this world WAS made for me! When my fear is out of the way, I’m able to see the pattern in the process, the rhythm of the rhyme, Hashem bringing what I need when it’s truly time for me to grow or to “shed another skin,” so I’ll keep “digging this well,” until this body’s just dust again!!
 

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Rabbi Simcha taught we should keep a strip of paper in each pocket of our pants — one to remind us (when we feel arrogant) that we are just dust and ashes, and the other to remind us (when we feel down) that the world was created just for us.  

This Shabbat, let’s imagine holding both of those strips of paper at once. Let’s each remain certain that we are only dust and ashes, while also having no doubt that we have a unique, infinitely important role to play in the miracle that is Creation’s unfolding… for there, balancing both, is where we can find holiness.  

shabbat shalom to all, jen

Flying Being One

ב׳׳ה


Flying Being One

Flying
Time spent flying
Long strange trips nowhere
For where is there to go…
…when the Universe is inside us
…when all Creation sings of the One

Being
It’s a way of being
More present than imaginable
Love flows from the Source
Constantly over-filling our souls
Reminding us we exist in Gd’s Grace.

One
The Universe is One
Every thing an inter-connected web
We can ignore or
choose to acknowledge and
join those who are Flying Being One
 
 
 
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This Shabbat, may we each be blessed with a moment when we are undoubtably aware of the Unity that underlies all of creation, and may our awareness help us feel more compassion for others.

Shabbat shalom to all, jen

Creation on display

ב׳׳ה

As I flew home from Florida on Tuesday afternoon, the magnificence of Creation was truly on display!   

The wind coming off the water in Ft. Lauderdale required that we take off flying east, sending us up over the beach. 


Out over the water, we made a 180* left turn . . . 


. . . which brought us back over land north of Ft. Lauderdale. 


 Before I knew it, we were over the swamps of the Everglades. 


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About 30 minutes later, I began to have a great view of the west coast of Florida, all the way from Sanibel Island . . . 


. . . past Tampa Bay . . . 


. . . up to the Panhandle . . . 


. . . where the Gulf water slowly disappeared from sight. 

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And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day. 

The Heaven and the Earth were finished, and all their array.  On the seventh day Gd finished the work that Gd had been doing, and Gd ceased on the seventh day from all the work that Gd had done.  And Gd blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it Gd ceased from all the work of creation that Gd had done.

Genesis 1:31 -2:3. 

shabbat shalom, jen