Sunday, August 28, 2011

RETURN: A Prayer for Elul Rosh Chodesh

Return to Elul.
The sky was dark, and the month began.
A special time of starting over;
A month of kindness and clarity;
Of consciousness and knowledge;
Of bravery and strength.
It is said that the truly evil are already condemned
And the truly good are already blessed.
So for the rest of us
There is Elul.

Return to ourselves.
In Genesis the moon is called, “the lesser light.”
And that’s how I feel tonight,
Less than what I should be.
What was I thinking?
I was afraid, I was hurt, I was anxious…
No excuses, I know what I did,
Maybe it wasn’t so bad
But maybe it was.
How can I make it better?
There is Elul.

Return to the people we wronged.
Use the ritual,
Create a context.
It makes it easier to speak:
I am so sorry.
I was wrong.
I lacked compassion in the moment
But I see things clearly now.
You don’t have to accept my apology,
We can do teshuva together
If you want.
There is Elul.

Return to each other.
In community we pray
For the kindness to comfort and care;
And the clarity to see what must be done;
For the consciousness to accept the truth;
And the knowledge to get help if needed;
For the bravery to ask for forgiveness;
And the strength to forgive.
Most of all, we pray for all who are in pain or who cause pain.
All this and more because
There is Elul.

Bless the God of Justice, of Mercy and of Redemption that we may return every year, as new as the moon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Prayer for The Hurricane

Ancient God of the Sumerians, Hittites, Babylonians and Hebrews,
God of Noah and all who came after,

We can, if we survive, imagine being philosophically grateful
For this hurricane.
After all,
It reminds us that there are forces much bigger than ourselves
And puts our lives in perspective
Which is always a good thing.
But please,
Just remember this:
You promised, no more floods.
I'm just saying.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blessing for Earthquakes & Hurricanes

‎"Baruch Ata Adonai Elohainu Ruach Ha'Olam Osei Ma'asei B'reisheet."
Translation: Bless the Source of Blessings, Guiding Force of the World, Who Reenacts the Works of Creation (Blessing for Earthquakes)

--thanks to Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Praise the Before, Praise the After, Praise the Time In Between.

I construct four walls and a roof and no windows.
I put in only one door, open it once a year, and never go in.
Inside the walls, Holy of Holies. Outside the walls, everything else.
All I did was build a temple.

I buy some fabric.
I put fringes on the corners and cover myself with the cloth.
Inside the cloth, I pray. Outside the cloth, I gossip.
But all I did was cover myself.

I have a candle, wine, and sweet smelling spices
I smell the spice, then I light the candle and dip it in the wine.
Before sunset, mindfulness and rest. After sundown, a week of new mistakes.
All I did was wait for it to get dark.

Praise Kadosh the holy,
Praise Khol the mundane,
Praise Ha Mavdil Bein Kodesh L’khol, that which differentiates between them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

For Lost Homes on Tisha B'Av

Jer. 17:12 A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary

I am losing my home.

I love my home.
I love the birds singing in the morning outside my window.
I love my neighbors, we feed each others’ cats.
I love the bodega on the corner.
I love the Park, and my mailman.

I love sitting on the roof,
With the sky so large and the moon so bright and golden behind a cloud,
That I can always imagine myself 3000 years ago,
Looking up in awe to see Old Man White Beard God
Sitting on his Kissei Kavod, his Throne of Glory, surrounded by angels,
Looking down on me as I drink my vodka tonic.

My home, four flights up, a real shlep and not very spacious,
But a good home, a restful home, my safe place.
And I must go.

I am losing my home.
How can this be?
Running out of money and long term unemployed
I am being forced out, expelled.
Sell it or lose it and I’m lucky, I can sell it.

I’m not alone,
There are a lot of us.
We are losing our homes.

In my home there was a big chair, padded and comfy.
Destroyed by the cats, ripped to shreds
But a good and restful chair.
My chair.
But the realtor said it was too bulky for the space
And made my home look too cramped, I must get rid of it.
So I did.
And it works, my apartment looks....

Oh, how I miss my big chair!
And I am losing my home.

In Israel, there is a beautiful wooden chair,
Intricately carved, hand-crafted by a butcher in 1808
For Reb Nachman of Bratslav.
It was Nachman’s chair in Bratslav, the throne of a ruler.
And Nachman had a dream that he sat in that chair and flew to Jerusalem.
After his death, the Breslovers kept the chair
And danced around it
In their hearts Nachman was still alive in his home, sitting on his throne,
The center of their universe.
And when the the Nazis came
They cut up the chair into small pieces.
Each chasid took one and set off for Jerusalem
And each chasid with a piece of the chair made it safe to this destination
Where they reassembled the chair.
And there they dance around it, to this day.
But my chair is gone.

Oh, how I miss my big chair!
And I am losing my home.

The destruction of the ancient Temple, the expulsion from Spain,
The pogroms against the shtetls in Russia, the murders of the six million--
So terrible and huge.
Much sadder than the sale of a small apartment in Brooklyn

But oh, how I miss my big chair!
And I am losing my home,
Where the birds sing outside my window in the morning

Baruch Atah HaMakom, Blessed Place, Where I Live No Matter Where I Live, give me sanctuary to grieve and the strength to stop, and the knowledge of when it is time to do both.