Awake My Soul–All of Elul has been directed to this moment

August 31, 2013

This whole summer, each Shabbat, we have been talking about Judaism’s relevance. Judaism is all around us. We can become attuned to it, and we can learn Jewishly from the stories in the news, the conversations we have with our loved ones and co-workers, the experiences we encounter in our everyday lives.

Never am I more attuned to the Judaism around me than when I’m listening to music. In my mind, during this month of Elul leading up to the High Holy Days, I have been hearing again and again a certain musical refrain.

Awake My Soul

Read the rest of this entry »

Elul Reflections: Jews Don’t Fit Into a Stereotype

August 30, 2013

maxresdefaultAs each of us considers our Jewish identity at this intense season of Jewish community, our DiveRSity group at Rodeph Shalom has been thinking about the diverse nature of our Jewish community and how we can help everyone to feel welcome at RS regardless of race, sexuality, and gender among other identities.  We explored these issues this spring with our Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art exhibit “Mis/Constructed Identities: Exploring Jewish Stereotypes.”  Here’s another compelling approach: 10 Photos To Remind You That Jews Don’t Fit into a Stereotype (And Never Have).

We look forward to praying with you (High Holy Day service schedule).  L’shanah tovah — Your RS Clergy

Elul Reflections: Loud Clamoring and Silent Stirring

August 29, 2013

 “The great shofar is sounded, and the still, small voice is heard.”  We read in the Un’taneh Tokef prayer, one of the central prayers of our High Holy Day liturgy, Uv’shofar gadol yitaka, v’kol d’mamah dakah yishama. How do we pay attention to the both the loud and the silent in our lives? What is clamoring loudly for your attention and what is stirring silently within you? In this month of reflection, we attune our souls. We practice listening to the loud and the silent, and we prepare to heed both.  (Please join us as we practice paying attention at weekly Friday 5pm Jewish Meditation, before our Shabbat service).

L’shanah tovah–Your RS Clergy

Elul Reflections: I Have a Dream

August 28, 2013
Today, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Dr. King’s I Have a Dream message of justice, change and the “fierce urgency of now” inspires us today, in a world still thirsty for racial justice and repair.  Let us be unsatisfied until, as the prophet Amos says:  “justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.”  Watch this film to learn about the Reform Movement’s tremendous role in the struggle for civil rights.
L’shanah tovah– Your RS clergy

Elul Reflections: Habit

August 27, 2013

We are creatures of habit.  “Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits,” writes Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business (p. xv).  In essence, our brains are lazy. Duhigg writes, “Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often.” (p. 17-18)

But habits can be changed. Our brain’s lazy response can become our preferred one. During Elul we consider how we want to form new habits. What outcome do you “crave,” asks Duhigg? Find a new routine, he says, and you can achieve any outcome.

We look forward to praying together (service schedule).  L’shanah tovah– Your RS Clergy

Elul Reflections: Tuff Courage

August 26, 2013

130822_DX_AntoinetteTuffLives were saved when school clerk Antoinette Tuff talked down a young man who showed up at McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Georgia armed with an AK-47 last Tuesday.  Learn about Tuff’s experience in this interview.  Witness Tuff’s extraordinary thought process and compassion on this 911 call.  Just after Tuff convinced the gunman to surrender, she said, “It’s gonna be all right, sweetie,” she says. “I just want you to know that I love you, though, OK? And I’m proud of you. That’s a good thing. You’ve just given up. Don’t worry about it.”

As we enter the High Holy Day season, explore our purpose, uncover our courage, test our capacity to empathize and forgive and examine our faith, we have much to learn from Antoinette Tuff.

L’shanah tovah –Your RS Clergy

Elul Reflections: The Content of Our Character

August 25, 2013

On Friday, Rabbi Bill Kuhn taught in his Shabbat d’var Torah:

On Wed., Aug. 28, our nation will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic March On Washington for civil rights for African Americans.  Over a quarter million people from around our country assembled at the Lincoln Memorial, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

It is important for our congregation to take time to think about the importance of this event.  This summer during our Erev Shabbat Services, we have been asking the question “What is relevant about Judaism in our daily lives?”  I believe the March on Washington has a lot of relevance to Judaism, as there are certainly parallels between Judaism and the African-American story in our country.  In fact, I believe Martin Luther King was the Moses of his day. Read the rest of this entry »

Elul Reflections: Awaken

August 24, 2013

The great shofar is sounded, and the still, small voice is heard.  Uv’shofar gadol yitaka, v’kol d’mamah dakah yishama.  What will rattle in you this year upon hearing the shofar sound? Will you ignore the rattle, or will you be awakened?

L’shanah tovah– Your RS Clergy

Elul Reflections: What Do I Want?

August 23, 2013

Our lives are full of “should”s. I should go to the grocery store. I should make that appointment I’ve been avoiding. I should ignore the beautiful weather outside and finish my work to meet this deadline. What if we were to consider this coming year full of “want”s? I want to make time for myself. I want to see my extended family more. I want to see that new movie. May this month of Elul be the empowerment, the emboldening, of “want” over “should.”

L’shanah tovah– Your RS Clergy

Elul Reflections: I Am Safe

August 22, 2013

New words for old ideas as we prepare for the new year… Here is a take on Psalm 27, the Psalm read daily in the month of Elul.

With the living and eternal God as my goal and guide
fear and anxiety preempt no place in my life.
All the evil in the world is not able to destroy God,
nor can it destroy anyone within God’s loving embrace.
The very legions of hell lay siege to my soul,
only to be thwarted by a power far greater. Read the rest of this entry »