Strive for Justice



Social action isn’t simply the intellectually correct response to a world that is frequently unjust.

Nor is it simply the currently-popular moral high-ground, the last remnant of religions demystified to appease followers after the Enlightenment.

And it most certainly ought not be something we do to boost our self-absorbed and frequently-insecure egos, whether by getting our names inscribed on a plaque for donors or by deluding ourselves with the notion that we are somehow “better than” those who face injustice.

Rather, we were (and continually are) commanded to Strive for Justice.

Everyone who has encountered The One has heard that command, for we cannot experience The One without being shaken from the deepest recesses of our souls by the deafening near-silence of The Unity.

The Unity from which we came.

The Unity toward which we move.

The Unity that inspired every religion.

The Unity that keeps whispering of our Oneness and urging us to acknowledge:

Together, we must Strive for Justice!

About the featured photo

I took the picture a few months ago when I visited the Allen County Courthouse in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The courthouse has been restored and has amazing paintings and stained glass throughout the building and courtrooms. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and if you’re ever in that area, I recommend taking a look at it!
The photo, along with Deuteronomy 16:20, was the inspiration for the text, which I wrote.
shavua tov, jen

G-d whispers




When G-d calls, He does not do so by way of universal imperatives. Instead, He whispers our name — and the greatest reply, the reply of Abraham, is simply hineni: ‘Here I am,’ ready to heed Your call, to mend a fragment of Your all-too-broken world.
——–Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

This Shabbat, may we each stop long enough to listen for Gd’s whisper and, then, may we find the courage respond when we are called.
shabbat shalom, jen

A quote to contemplate on Shabbat… 


“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.” —THOMAS MERTON 

Shabbat shalom to all, jen

Creation on display


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. 


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. 


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



I LOVE snow!!    I love the way it crunches under shoes, creates a special silence as it falls, and packs into globs that can be thrown at friends and family… 
But I especially love when it lands on my windshield and lets me see the details of its crystalline structure . . . the little “limbs” protruding off each branch . . . I can’t help but stop and stare (and take a few pictures!!!).   

When I look at the delicate beauty of those tiny creations, I can’t help but feel wonder and awe about this miraculous world in which we live!  Hopefully you also feel wonder when you look at the pictures.  

Praying Shabbat brings us all some moments of peace in which we my relax and enjoy the tiny miracles of Creation, jen 

Stretched across space and time


During my recent trip to Philadelphia, I visited the National Museum of American Jewish History.  The museum sits on the eastern side of the Independence National Historical Park, which contains The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the National Constitution Center.   In front of the Jewish museum, facing west toward Independence Park, is an amazing statue dedicated on the 100th anniversary of US Independence by B’nai B’rith to celebrate the religious liberty this country provided.  

Inside the museum I learned all sorts of fun facts about the Jewish experience in America:

  • The first practicing Jew in North America was Joachim Gaunse, who arrived in 1585, but stayed only one year.  
  • North America’s first permanent Jewish settlers arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York) in the summer of 1654.  One man, Jacob Barsimon, arrived first on the Peereboom, and 23 men, women, and children arrived a few weeks later on the Sint Catrina.  
  • In 1790, when the US population was 3.9 million, there were 2,500 Jews in the US.  
  • In 1880, the US population was 50 million, and 250,000 were Jews. 
  • In 1890, Ray Frank, a Jewish woman born in San Francisco, led High Holiday services in Spokane, Washington, and was referred to as the “Girl Rabbi of the Golden West.” 

But the moment that stopped me in my tracks was a moment that I hadn’t expected.  I was, after all, in Philadelphia, learning about the founding of the country in which I have lived my entire life, and learning about the Jewish experience in and around that founding.   But, on the floor of the museum illustrating Jewish life in the US in the 1900’s, I rounded a corner to a video of David Ben-Gurion declaring the independence of the state of Israel in 1948… 

and suddenly, it was as if one of my feet was in standing in the birthplace of American Independence and my other foot was standing in the birthplace of Israeli Independence… Independence Hall in Tel Aviv… which I visited in 2007… 

In my mind’s eye I could see the wooden chairs with the golden name tags informing visitors which of the founding mothers and fathers had sat in each chair…

I love moments like these, when my present and past collide in ways that make each of the experiences more meaningful than either would have been alone!!  

If you’ve had an experience like this, feel free to share in the comments.  🙂

shavua tov, jen 

Hillel Zeitlin’s Yavneh


Hillel Zeitlin was a Jewish philosopher, writer, and publicist who lived in Eastern Europe from 1871 until 1942.   Zeitlin called for the creation of a new Hasidic movement that would return to the Baal Shem Tov’s embodiment of love for Gd, Israel, and Torah. Zeitlin dreamed of establishing a community that would live according to the ideals he espoused, and he called that community “Yavneh.”
In 2012, when Rabbi Arthur Green published translations of numerous texts written by Zeitlin, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi wrote the Foreword, in which he discussed the importance of Zeitlin and his dream of creating Yavneh. As Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi explained:

Those who wish to live a committed and purposeful life in the presence of the living God have always known that they need a societal “container” in which inner ideals can be freely expressed and shared . . . and in which one does not need to apologize for one’s longing to live the life of one’s ideals.

Hasidic Spirituality for a New Era: The Religious Writings of Hillel Zeitlin. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Foreword at xix (Paulist Press 2012).
Until I again opened the Zeitlin book last night for that quote, I had not realized that Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi explicitly connected Zeitlin’s dream of a community called Yavneh to the emergence of Jewish Renewal, but he did… Foreword at xix …And though I had not known he connected them, I have been referring to my Shabbat at P’nai Or Philadelphia, which Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi founded, as “six hours in Yavneh.”
My experience led me to write the following text, which I dedicate to Hillel Zeitlin . . . may his dream of Yavneh continue to inspire Jews for thousands of generations . . .

Six hours in Yavneh,
Now my heart longs for more…

I want to find my own story wandering inside our ancient texts, and I don’t want to have to worry what emotion I display next, as I open my soul and reach for my Gd, surrounded by others who in prayer and song are reaching for the same Truth we all know is there, the Truth of the Unity, the ‘parent’ we all share, of Infinite Eternal Love and a Sukkah of Peace, that travels with us as we wander and protects us from grief while we watch for other wanderers who may have lost their way and invite them to travel with us…