Dear LEGO…

Dear LEGO,

I’m a member of your VIP club, and I’ve spent more money in the last decade on LEGOs for myself and my sons than I’d care to admit in public, so I’m wondering if you might do me a little favor.

Next fall, could you repackage a few of the Star Wars Advent Calendars in boxes marked “Chanukah Gift Pack”?

Maybe put a blue bow instead of the red one?

And label three of the twenty-four doors for each of the nights one through eight?

You don’t have to change what’s inside the package… it just needs a new box!

And you don’t even have to distribute them to stores. I’m happy to order online, as I know you provide free shipping around the holidays!!

Don’t misunderstand, LEGO, my kids and I are devoted fans of your Star Wars products, so my sons will be opening three windows on their own Star Wars Advent Calendars each of the next eight nights.

But other Jews might not feel as comfortable buying an Advent Calendar, so imagine how a new box might increase sales . . .

Happy Chanukah, jen 😊

The Road to Damascus


The Road to Damascus

The Road to Damascus passed my way. The Light was blinding, and I fell down to pray. But the vision I had was different from Saul, as for me there was no voice at all. Instead I could see that we are all Inside, connected by a web from which we can’t hide, and inside this web with me and you, are Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha too. For Gd’s plan is bigger than one religion or people, so when your call comes –be it from minaret or steeple– kneel yourself down and take a few moments to pray, thank Gd for multiple paths to help us find our way, because part of the message to Saul was in the message to me — Don’t persecute others for how they find Thee!



For those who don’t know the story of Saul, a devout Jew who persecuted early Christians, the text is available here.

May this be a week of peace between religions and peoples, jen

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 

the physical life of another



“Spiritual life is superior to physical life. But the physical life of another is an obligation of my spiritual life.”

            —-Rabbi Israel Salanter


Saint Francis

He stands there on the corner again with the sign that says he’s homeless. But today, today is different. Today he’s got a crutch and a cast on his left foot.
I wonder if he remembers when I’ve given him granola bars. I wonder why he remains homeless. But I play with my phone, hoping he won’t stop at my open car window, as I have no granola bars and I don’t hand out money on the street.
“Hey, girl, how are you today?” he asks. As I look up into his smiling face, I can’t help but tell him he’s wearing a beautiful smile for someone with a banged-up foot. His smile broadens at being seen, and he tells me he’s trying to get a couple of dollars to get some food and catch the bus back to the shelter. I make small talk about how he ended up so far from the shelter, and then the light changes so that I can drive away.
I turn the corner, feeling proud of myself for sticking to my rule about not handing out money. But my pride is short-lived because, despite the music from my earbuds, from far away and yet so near, Saint Francis scolds me: “He’s an image of Gd — feed him!!”
So tomorrow, tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I’ll bring him dinner.


This year I’m directing my tzdakah to organizations that help feed those who do not have the resources to feed themselves.  If you don’t already have a charitable cause that is dear to you, I invite you to join me by donating to a food bank in your area.
     praying a day arrives when every person has an access to nutritious food,  jen

Why Saint Francis? 

The stories I’ve read about Saint Francis and the quotes attributed to him suggest he saw holiness in every creature and person.  And, as a young man, Francis got into trouble for giving his rich father’s money to poor people.  So, when my conscience berated me for not feeding a hungry man, I immediately thought of Saint Francis. 

I understand that Francis’s motivation for helping the poor was that Francis wanted to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, while my motivation comes from the Torah’s commands to pursue justice and to leave the corners of the fields for those without food.  

But I feel no need to quarrel about the theological specifics that motivated Francis’s behavior. Instead, I think of him as a man who tried to do Gd’s will. 

Weaving with Kabir


Weaving with Kabir
Fiber spun from words
into tapestries of praise
worthy of adorning our Gd.
Am I fiber, loom, or weaver?
Perhaps none of them?
For is not the One beneath all?
Surely I’m just a lamb
who grew a little wool,
shepherded by wiser faces of Gd.
Or some kind of robot
programmed to weave fabric
by The Greatest Engineer of them all.
On bad days I’m a loom,
unaware of The Weaver,
distracted by my need for control.
All I know is these words
pour from me into phrases
that I pray are found befitting our Gd.

shavua tov, a good week to all, 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