Thursday, September 20, 2018

All Our Grudges: An Alternative Kol Nidrei

All grudges, resentments, and vows of vengence and bitterness, 
All undying hatreds or annoyances that we may hold onto
Or talk endlessly about, boring our friends,
Or lose sleep obsessing over
Or write bad poetry about
Or bring up at family dinners to the consternation of all present;

From the previous Day of Atonement until this Day of Atonement
For the benefit of our mental health
And the peace of mind of all who surround us;
Regarding all of this that we have refused to let go,
Despite the fact that they are long past
Or pointless
Or one-sided
Or ridiculous
Or destructive of the innocent
Or hurting ourselves more than anyone else;

Regarding all of them, these intrusions on the Holy Wholeness,
we repudiate them.
All of them, we let them go,
Give up
Wave away
Acknowledge as stupid
Declare null and void
Because we are done.

Our grudges are no longer our grudges,
Our silent resentments are no longer silent,
Our eternal vows of vengence are no more.

The entire community acknowledges and takes action
So that everyone we have been angry at is forgiven,
Every hurt we did not speak about will be dealt with,
Every relative will be loved for who they are rather than who they are not,
Every change in the world that needs to be made will be made rather than contemplated.

Holy Wholeness!
We need help to step back into connection with the One.
We look for the compassion and mercy
That is always there
If we but pay attention.

Yes, there it is.
We are forgiven.

Blessed be the One-ness, 
Creator, Created, Creating.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Torah Covers That Go Wow: Changing the Torah Covers on Erev Rosh Hashanah

On Rosh Hashanah
It's time,
Among much else,
To change the covers on our torahs from the everyday colors to white.
I google
Torah covers,
Hoping for some jewish knowledge to inspire deep thoughts
And at the top of the list there is an ad,
An ad for a company that makes custom torah covers.
 The headline for the ad reads,
Torah Covers That Go Wow!

Torah covers that go, "wow!"?

I'm impressed
And I start thinking about the other talking torah covers I have known
And what they might have to say
Besides wow.

For instance, I once knew a torah cover that said, Because You Are a Girl You're Not Allowed To Touch Me.
(Slowly and deliberately touch the cover) (grin)

I knew a torah cover that said, Pick me up and Dance With Me!
I met that torah cover at my first simchat Torah.
I picked it up, and we danced.

I knew a torah cover that said Take Me Off And Look Inside!
So I did
And it was baffling and complicated and never boring.

I knew a torah cover that said, Don't Worship Me, I'm Just A Book.
And I agreed, and kissed it with my tallit anyway.

I knew a torah cover that said, Doubt Is An Act Of Faith!
And so I asked questions, and I listened to the answers and then asked some more.

And these High Holyday white torah covers, what do they say?
These cry, Remember Me.
For loved ones of blessed memory, who gave so much to us.
I still miss them.

And we remember.

Last year the torah covers spoke and said,
“Every small stain on white is visible, every blemish is there for the world to see”*
So that we may know ourselves, seek forgiveness and change.

And everywhere there is Rosh Hashana, what else do all the white covers say? 
They sing the song of the Shofar, the three notes,
According to Rabbi Arthur Waskow,
Tekiah, “Awake!”,  
Teruah ,”Open your heart!”,  
Shevarim, “Sob with all who suffer!”

All these noisy covers, going: Help Me, Touch Me, Go Away, Learn and Study, Ask and Listen, Worship, Fear, Dance, Forgive and Be Forgiven, Remember, Awaken, Open Up, Empathize, Resist...

All these voices
Kolot Chayeiu, voices of our lives,
Kol Shofar, all the voices of the Shofar
Kol Torah, the voices of our torah
As we join together.
And go,

Shana Tova

*Tabitha St. Bernard and Adam Jaffe, Changing The Torah Covers

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Everyone Who Hears Will Laugh With Me

וַתֹּ֣אמֶר שָׂרָ֔ה צְחֹ֕ק עָ֥שָׂה לִ֖י אֱלֹהִ֑ים כָּל־הַשֹּׁמֵ֖עַ יִֽצְחַק־לִֽי׃
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”
May God bring you laughter.
Having invented banana peels,
Ladders with buckets of water teetering on the top,
Also politics, war and late in life children,
God appears to love a good pratfall.
And then there's that magic comedy number three: 
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, those cut ups!
(I snort when I laugh, maybe God thunders?)
Oh and punchlines,
God definitely invented punchlines.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Study the High Holyday Liturgy


A prayer is a story not an essay, which means that at the end of the prayer, or the service, or the tenDays of Awe, you should find yourself in a different place than where you were at the beginning.  And that means you have to know what you're saying and how it fits into the story.

If you are curious about some of the key prayers that we say on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, sign up to study High Holyday Liturgy with Trisha Arlin to learn about and discuss the traditional and new meanings of some of the most important prayers of the HH liturgy. 

We'll meet in two to four sessions, with at least one of those sessions during the ten days between RH and YK.  The number of sessions will depend on who and how many sign up and how much time you want to commit to, but four is the preferred amount.  

Gory details:
·      The cost is $36 per session if there is a class, $60 for individual tutoring.  Plus a materials fee (tbd) since there will be a lot of copying.
·      Once you sign up I'll send you the bibliography. 
·      When I know who is participating and what your schedules are, we'll figure out when and where we will meet.

CONTACT Trisha at for more info or to sign up

Using handouts (though you'll get a bibliography if you want to read the books) for each prayer we'll:
·      Review the stories of the ten days, of each day's service and of the individual components we're looking at in detail;
·      Briefly go over the basics of Jewish liturgical structure;
·      Learn some of the history of the creation of that prayer or liturgical poem;
·      Read different English translations out loud from machzorim (the High Holyday prayerbooks) from different denominations and authors;
·      Acknowledge traditional meanings and minhag (traditions) around the observance and/or music;
·      Acknowledge the gender and hierachical language and consider how to react and respond to it;
·      Explore our own meanings. metaphors and interpretations and contexts which we can bring to services;
·      Combine our traditional, historical, textual, psychological, metaphysical explorations to mindfully experience the High Holydays at Kolot.

If there is interest, we can meet after services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (on the day or soon after) to review your experience of the service.

We will study the following prayers and liturgical poems:
Hineni (Here I Am)
Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father Our King)
Unataneh tokef (We Declare)

If there's time and interest:  HaYom

Kol Nidre (All These Vows)
Al Cheit/Vidui (Our Sins/Confession)
El Rachum  (Merciful God_
Avodah Service (The High Priest Prays For Forgiveness)

If there's time and interest:  Yizkor and Ne'ilah

After the High Holydays I will be offering a class or individual tutoring in the Shabbat Morning prayer service along the same lines ($60 a class session, $75 an individual session).  I currently tutor two indivoduals and I can refer you to them (and students I tutored for conversion).

Trisha Arlin is a liturgist and very part-time rabbinic student at the Academy of Jewish religion, a member of Kolot Chayeinu since 1997, the editor of VOICES, the Kolot Journal, and RAISING MY VOICE, The Selected Writings of Rabbi Ellen Lippmann and creator of the Writing Personal Prayer workshops and the Liturgist-In=Residence at the 2014 National Havurah Summer Institute.  A collection of her work, PLACE YOURSELF, with a foreword by Rabbi Jill Hammer and Art by Mike Cockrill, will be published in the Fall by Dimus Parrhesia Pres.   Individual prayers and kavannot have been published in RENEW OUR HEARTS: A SIDDUR FOR SHABBAT DAY,  Bayit and Ben Yehuda Press, due 2019;  BESIDE STILL WATERS, A JOURNAL OF COMFORT AND RENEWAL, 2018, Bayit and Ben Yehuda Press;  A POET'S SIDDUR, Ain't Got No Press, 2017; and STUDIES IN JUDAISM AND PLURALISM, Ben Yehuda Press 2016 and can be found online on Ritualwell, the Open Siddur Project and on her blog, Trisha Arlin: Words of Prayer and Intention