My travel song


I’m flying today to play with my kids on the beach for a few days and, while I’m sitting here at the airport, I thought I’d share my travel song with you.  

Judaism has a “Traveler’s Prayer” that asks Gd to guard us from “enemy and ambush, from robbers and wild beasts” so that we might reach our destination in peace. It’s full text can be found here.  

But my personal travel prayer is B’sheim Hashem, which means “In Hashem’s Name,” as sung by Neshama Carlebach. In English, the lyrics are these:

In the name of Hashem,
the Gd of Israel,
may Michael be at my right hand; Gabriel at my left;
before me, Uriel;
behind me, Rapheal;
and above my head the divine presence of Gd.

Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael are angels, and the divine presence of Gd is typically referred to as the Shechina, which comes from a Hebrew word for “dwelling,” because it represents a form of Gd that dwells with us. 

Neshama sings the song in Hebrew, and Hebrew lyrics are these:

B’shaim Hashem,
Elohei Yisreal,
mimini Michael;
umismoli Gavriel;
umilfanai Uriel;
umeachorai Rafael;
v’al roshi Shechinat El.

Now that you know what the song is about, feel free to take a listen to Neshama singing it … Enjoy!  jen 

An evening prayer


An evening prayer

The reddest of suns sets
in a clear blue sky,
drawing my soul toward You,
stopping me from worldly chores
to breathe deeply in this holy moment.
As day turns to night,
Adonai my Gd,
I reach toward You for Grace,
knowing You’re here to comfort me,
wherever life’s journey may lead.
Blessed are You,
Eternal Hashem,
Creator of the evenings
that bring us new days.


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

please carry me


please carry me

Won’t You please carry me
out past my fear
to where I’m secure in Your Love?
To a place where I know,
as surely as I’m breathing,
my existence alone makes me enough,
that I don’t need to struggle
or feign that I’m more
for those “mores” don’t really matter.
What matters are compassion
and renunciation of pride,
for then can You bless me with Grace.


shavua tov to all, jen

“Jewish Mystical Practice”


On Wednesday morning of this week, Rabbi Rami Shapiro taught a half-hour session on “Jewish Mystical Practice” at the annual Louisville Festival of Faiths.  Luckily for all of us who couldn’t be there in person, the session was posted to YouTube!!  The session is both educational and practical, explaining the how and why of some morning prayer-songs that can help us reconnect to the One who animates us all.  

Here’s the link to the video:

praying Shabbat brings more shalom to all, jen

Gut Chodesh 


a sliver of moon rises with the sun (2-24-17)

My second grader has been studying the phases of the moon at school, so we’ve been watching the moon more intently for a couple of weeks. He was happy to tell me that Friday morning’s sliver was a “waning crescent.” The waning crescent means the new moon is only a couple of days away, and then the moon will get brighter again.  

After he shared his knowledge with me, I asked if he knew what the new moon brought with it. He didn’t, and when I told him the new moon brought the new Jewish month with it, he was SO excited at this news!!  

And, I must admit, I find it rather exciting too… so I decided to look up and share the official blessing for the new month… and what I found was more intriguing than even I expected!!! 

You see, the “celebration of the new month” to which I’m accustomed is a pronouncement in synagogue on the last erev Shabbat of the month.  The pronouncement tells us the day in the next week on which the new month will begin and, as translated in the Mishkan T’filah siddur, includes this prayer: 

Our Gd and Gd of our ancestors, may the new month bring us goodness and blessing. May we have long life, peace, and prosperity, a life exalted by love of Torah and reverence for the divine; a life in which the longings of our hearts are fulfilled for good. 

Mishkan T’filah: A Reform Siddur (Shabbat) at 261 (CCAR 2007).  

However, as I looked up the specific language of that prayer to provide in this post, I found out that custom of announcing when the new month would begin did not originate until the 9th century… and Halakah (Jewish law) actually prescribes a different and much more meaningful custom!!

According to the Talmud, we are to stand outside some night between the third and fourteenth day of the month, looking at the waxing moon that is growing in brightness and recite a prayer praising Gd for Creation.  Ideally we will observe this custom in the company of friends, because then we can share our joy at the moon’s renewal, which gives us hope for our own renewal and growing brightness with the Light of Gd.  The Talmud explains:  

Said Rabbi Aha bar Hanina in the name of Rabbi Asi in the name of Rabbi Yohanan: Reciting the blessing over the moon at the proper time is like greeting the Shekhinah [indwelling presence of Gd] personally… Said Abaye: Therefore we should say the blessing standing up (as though greeting Gd). Meremar and Mar Zutra went so far as to climb up on one another’s shoulders while saying the blessing. 

Sanhedrin 42b (as quoted on My Jewish Learning ). 

And The Complete Artscroll Siddur (Ashkenaz) explains that greeting the moon is like greeting the Shekhinah because 

the only way we can recognize the existence of Gd is through [Gd’s] works. … In nature it is seen through the orderly functioning of the enormously complex heavenly bodies. … This phenomenon is most apparent in the cycles of the moon, because its changes are more visible than those of any other body. Thus, when we greet the moon, we greet its Maker and Guide. 

Artscroll Siddur at 612 (citing Rabbeinu Yonah, Berachos 4).  

I took the liberty of “updating the prayer”** that is to be said outside with the moon between the 3rd and 14th of the month, and I provide it here for others to use and share: 

Praised are You, Hashem, our Gd, Ruler of the Universe, whose word created the universe and whose breath created the celestial bodies. Gd gave them appointed times and roles, and they never miss their cues, doing their Creator’s bidding with gladness and joy. Gd, the true and faithful Creator, commanded that the moon would renew itself as a beautiful crown in the sky. May we renew ourselves and proclaim the beauty of Gd’s glorious universe. Praised are you, Hashem, who renews the months. 

Tonight begins the new Jewish month … so next weekend, grab a friend and head outside to appreciate the moon, Creation, Gd, and our ability to renew our own lives!!!  

Shavua Tov (a good week!)
and Gut Chodesh (a good month!)

may we all be blessed, jen

**”updating the prayer” means that I removed language referring to Gd as male and language suggesting the moon was a crown for Israel (rather than humanity). 

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

“Create me, then, anew”


With but a single ray of light from You, I am penetrated by Your aura,
but a single word uttered by You, and I arise again to life,
but a single stir from Your eternal life, and I am saturated with the dew of youth,
for do You not create anew all that is?
Create me, then, anew, O my parent — me, Your child, life renewed!

Portion of a prayer “From Anew,” written by Hillel Zeitlin, translated to English by Joel Rosenberg, published at p. 195 of Hasidic Spirituality for a New Era: The Religious Writings of Hillel Zeitlin (Paulist Press 2012).

* * * * * 

shavua tov –a good week– to all, jen