As the current pandemic disrupts our lives and everyday connections, we each face the dual challenge of saving lives and caring for our souls. Rabbi Deborah Waxman reflects on the Jewish spiritual imagery that unites these concerns and shares a practice of breath work that can sustain us in stressful times. Sourced from Hashivenu: Jewish teachings on resilience
Vividly witness the life journey of John Backman, who wore a dress as a child and had never felt comfortable identifying as a man. Only in the past decade, well into middle age, John — a writer and spiritual director — began to use the pronouns she and her (and sometimes going by the name Janelle). Yet, she identifies as gender non-binary, rather than a woman. Backman inspires all to see themselves clearly enough so they, too, can step into who they really are. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations
The recitation of Psalms has been a traditional Jewish response to illness and other personal and communal struggles for ages. Listen as Rabbi Vivie Mayer chantsPsalms 70 and 130 and raises up from our deepest places our need to be heard. Sourced from Ritualwell
In his d’var Torah, Rabbi Jacob Staub teaches us how to live with the constrictions and ambiguities of the mitzrayim, the narrow places, we currently find ourselves in, even within the greater expansiveness that Shabbat brings us.
The distinctions between the holy and the ordinary are often simple and unremarkable. As we step from Shabbat into a new week of challenges, we pause to notice and re/mark them. Sourced from Ritualwell
Adva Chattler offers a new ritual for the ancient custom of “taking the challah.” The traditional mitzvah of hafrashat challah (“taking” or “separating” challah) refers to removing and burning a small piece of challah dough as a symbolic offering before baking. In the time of the ancient temple in Jerusalem, the Israelites would give challah as an offering to the kohanim (priests). This mitzvah created a connection between groups of people who had separate roles in society and brought holiness to a mundane act. Today, as many of us are in isolation due to COVID-19, we can perform this mitzvah of “taking” challah as a way to connect us to the wider community from which we are temporarily separated.
While your coffee is still hot, reciting this blessing created by Shaul Kelner will heighten all of your senses. Inhale the aroma. Savor the experience. Ritualize the first to the last sip, as Kelner teaches, to amplify gratitude for the smallest of moments. Sourced from Ritualwell
Listen to the sounds of this world, teaches Rabbi Shefa Gold, as a practice of devekut, the continual remembrance of God. Her teaching helps us hear a great chorus of praise. Every creature, she teaches, praises its Creator with each breath. Rabbi Gold is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations
As our lives are disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we speak with Dr. Ameet Ravital, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating trauma. We reflect on personal experiences of anxiety and grief, and discuss strategies he uses to support an orientation toward joy even in the hardest times. Our conversation draws on his beautiful essay, “Despair to Awakening”, free to read at Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations. Sourced from Hashivenu: Jewish teachings on resilience
When you are ready to say goodbye to Shabbat and enter the new week, join Rabbi Vivie Mayer sing Petakh libi, “Open my heart.” This chant, drawn from the Amidah, invites us to peel away the layers so we can say, “Open my heart to Your wisdom, so my soul will pursue Your ways.” Rabbi Mayer is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Sourced from Reset: Resilience Practices for Jewish Social Justice Organizations
A six-minute spoken-word meditation by Rabbi Alex Weissman invites you to take a breath to inhale heated air and experience the desert with our ancestors, then and now. Arriving at the foot of the mountain, it is no longer time to “go, go, go,” but rather to “sit, sit, sit” and await revelation. Rabbi Weissman is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Sourced from Reset: Resilience Practices for Jewish Social Justice Organizations
A clinical psychologist who specializes in treating trauma, Ameet Ravital offers three suggestions about how to approach our despair about the state of the world. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations
This wide-ranging podcast conversation with noted teacher of spirituality Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg begins by recounting the influences that led her toward integrating meditation and yoga into Jewish spirituality. She then digs deeply into the essential interplay between spiritual experience (love received) and spiritually-rooted justice (love extended not only to neighbors, but to strangers, even in the face of trauma and fear.) The podcast concludes with a discussion of the transformative practice of spiritual direction. Rabbi Waxman and Rabbi Peltz Weinberg are graduates of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Sourced from Hashivenu: Jewish teachings on resilience
“Can a rarely-practiced piece of Torah, dormant for most of the Common Era, help us weather the novel coronavirus crisis? Yes, Shmita can – and a fresh look at this biblical practice offers guidance for other challenges of our time, too.” Rabbi Scherlinder Dobb is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Originally published in eJewish Philanthropy
As Shabbat ends and we begin the week anew, for Havdalah listen to Koach Baruch Frazier’s chant of Ahava Rachamim chesed to keep the thought for the week “I am love. I am compassionate. I am kind. I am whole.” Koach Baruch Frazier is a rabbincal student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Sourced from Reset: Resilience Practices for Jewish Social Justice