Thursday, January 13, 2022

Four Cups - Four Ways to Action (For. Tu Bishvat Seder)

(As written for the Bayit Liturgical Artists Tu Bishvat offering)


​​Blessed Holy Wholeness

We drink four cups in honor of the actions

That we might do, that we can do

That we should do, that we must do

For our trees and our planet

In honor of the possibilities of God. 


First Cup - Live Small

You have to be rich to live small.

It ain’t cheap to shop local,

Do the poor eat organic?

But bravo to those of us who can manage it

And no shame to those of us who cannot.

But if you are able:

Use public transportation

Shop locally

Don’t use plastic

Plant a tree


And drink that first cup


Second Cup - Act Small

You have to be caring to act small,

Like dripping water slowly eroding a boulder. 

Maybe you don’t have time or energy or leisure

To do everything that’s needed 

But you can do something. 

So, if you are able:

Write letters

Make phone calls

Show up at a rally

Send a little money


And drink that second cup


Third Cup - Live Big

You have to be committed to live big. 

Most of us don’t do it because 

These choices are, well, big. 

They will change your life

And maybe change others. 

Then, if you’re able:

Get rid of your car

Move into a tiny home

Install solar energy

Become a vegetarian


And drink that third cup.


Fourth Cup - Act Big

You have to be patient to act big. 

This is where systemic change occurs,

Much slower than we’d like,

But the earth is desperate and we must persist,

We have no choice. 

So make yourself able and get it done:

Enact a Green New Deal

Organize for voting rights

End the use of fossil fuels

End environmental racism


And drink that fourth cup (you’re gonna need it)


Blessed Holy Wholeness

We give thanks for the possibilities of

What we could, can, should, and must do

For our trees and for ourselves, 

Taking action for the possibilities of God. 




Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Our Tallis Trees (slides from Bayit)

This was written for the Tu Bishvat 2022 release from the Bayit Liturgical Artists Workin Group.   

To see all our releases since the summer of 2020, as Google slides and/or as a text only PDFs,  go to Bayit Liturgical Arts.   

To get the our book, a collection of our work in the first 18 months:  FROM NARROW PLACES: LITURGY, POETRY AND ART OF THE PANDEMIC ERA

 With gratitude and love to Congregation Kolot Chayeinu, our clergy and our members and friends:

Slides by Joanne Fink

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Our Tallis Trees


Our home shul in Brooklyn meets in a church.

We don’t have a yard or a roof or air conditioning 

So for many years during the summer we have met in Prospect Park

Under two large trees that overlook the ball fields. 

There used to be three trees but one fell down after Hurricane Sandy. 


These two big trees have trunks that have become our bimah. 

We place our camp chairs and blankets around them 

And we are shaded by their joined canopies

Which we have come to feel is like

Being covered by a giant green tallis

The many leaves are the fringes and

Everything inside is kodosh, holy, 

In Shabbat time and space,

And everything outside is khol, mundane, 

Prospect Park on a Saturday morning. 

Inside are study, prayers, songs, meditations, poems, potluck, community and words of Torah. 

Outside are ball games, the Dog Pond, bicycles and the guy who sells ice cream from a cart between the 9th Street entrance and the Long Meadow. 

It would be perfect if only there was a bathroom. 


That summer before Covid we planted a sapling in place of the lost third tree

In honor of our beloved retiring founding rabbi,

Bless her. 

That same day we acknowledged our summer Beit Knesset

When our Hazzan surreptitiously placed a wooden mezuzah in the crook of the biggest of the two trees. 

We sang and said a blessing. 

We didn’t have permission from the Park for this

But our cantor did check with an arborist who said it wouldn’t hurt the tree. 

This small outlaw act made us giggle and kvell and cry

For our founding rabbi

For the future

For our clever hidden mezuzah 

And for our sheltering Tallis Trees. 


Many of us liked to visit this sacred space when it wasn’t Shabbat 

To touch the mezuzah and say a private prayer. 

But last year the mezuzah disappeared. 

Our Hazzan asked a Park guy about it

(He knew her, because of the tree we planted).

He said he’d seen it almost immediately and decided to ignore it,

Bless him,

But that one day it had disappeared. 

What happened to the mezuzah?

Was it brought low by a bad storm?

Did a bird make a nest with it?

Was it taken down by a passing Jew with a strict interpretation of where a mezuzah should be?

Maybe it fell into the earth below

And our holy words were broken down into their smallest component parts,

Becoming Holy Mulch,

Feeding the Tallis Tree. 


HaShleimut, Blessed Totality,

We give thanks to the Tallis Trees 

For their shelter and their beauty.

We give thanks for having this special outside sanctuary 

During the years of Covid.

We give thanks to the deep rest

That comes when we are in Shabbat with nature. 

We give thanks to the staff of Prospect Park 

For their vigilant maintenance of the green spaces. 

And we ask for the clarity, endurance and skills needed

To keep our trees safe and flourishing. 


Because all trees are Tallis Trees. 

Bless them. 



Monday, December 27, 2021

Nature, A Puzzle

Art by Mike Cockrill

Blessed Holy Wholeness,
Flies have invaded my apartment
And I do not sanctify their lives. 
The flies wax and wane.
We kill off most of them but then
They always return. 
I don’t understand,
We keep the place clean and
We never see any maggots,
Where are these flies coming from? 
I hate them. 
There’s a particular loud buzz the flies generate when they’re captured on a sticky fly paper roll,
Trying to flee and freaking out. 
We revel in the sound,
We laugh!
It is disgusting. 
And yet,
I believe flies to be created in God’s image 
Just as I am. 
I know they are part of the divine continuum. 
I know they are necessary to the processing of waste
And that they are food for other animals in the chain of life.
I know that flies are as entitled to existence as anything else. 
Most of all,
I know that human intolerance 
Of the unpleasant, the inconvenient and/or the mysterious
In nature
Is destroying the planet.
Still, I hate them.
Blessed Holy Wholeness,
I cannot resolve the contradiction. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Seasonal Wishes

Wishing much merriment to those who are doing the red, green and sparkly thing,

Wishing good eating and diversion to those doing the Chinese food and movies thing, 

Wishing a warm and well-lit winter night to those doing the tilting of earth’s axis thing,

Wishing a speedy couple of days to those trying to do the ignoring it all thing,


Wishing a complete healing for those with Covid or flu. 


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Writing Liturgy Workshop for Clergy/Prayer and Spiritual Leaders

(Art by Mike Cockrill )

As some of you may know, I have been doing prayer writing workshops for some years now.  Recently, after conversations with a couple of rabbis and a spiritual director about the differences between poetry, kavannot and liturgy, I offered to do  a workshop with them in which we would look at the traditional tropes of Jewish liturgy and what differentiates liturgy from personal prayer and poetry and then, using those discussions, guide them in writing their own liturgy in English.

This workshop is for clergy, prayer leaders and spiritual guides only.

I know many of you already write blessings, at which i’m sure you’re already wonderful.  This workshop is about writing liturgy,  sacred art that might be poetry or monologues or kavannot that are, i hope, potentially very interesting and meaningful and complicated and moving and even beautiful.

I know most of you will have studied liturgy in school, but this is a practical and not an academic class and it will not be in Hebrew.  

We scheduled this workshop for Monday, January 10 at 2:30 PM EST, and I would like to invite you to participate.  (if it goes well and there is continuing interest, i can see making this an ongoing monthly workshop but for now, it’s just this one time.)

The fee is $40, payable via Paypal (preferred) or Venmo.  
(check is okay but not preferred)
Contact me at or via Facebook DM. 

The workshop:

1) Discussion on difference between poetry and liturgy.  What are structural elements that make something a piece of Jewish liturgy?

2) What do you want to accomplish in your liturgy?  Who are you writing for, the whole congregation or targeted groups or individuals?  Will it be read out loud?  Do you have any artistic or spiritual goals?  Do you want to teach, comfort,  exalt?

3) Some guided meditation to provide ideas and imagery. 

4) Writing prompts.

5) sharing after writing. If a small class, we will share in one body, if large we will go into small breakout rooms.

6) Feedback.  Unlike my personal prayer writing classes, we will give kind, friendly and useful feedback based on your goals (see #2).   There will be no feedback on the quality of your writing, though if you want to work on that privately with me we can arrange something after the session.

At this point i don’t know if it would work better to write something new for a life cycle event or a new version of a pre-existing prayer, I lean to the former but I’m open to suggestion on this one. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

NEW CLASS: Holy Conversation: The Kavannot of the Shabbat Amidah


Holy Conversation: The Kavannot of the Shabbat Amidah

Thu Jan 202022 7:00 PM - Thu Feb 2420228:30 PM EST 

Online, Zoom


Thursdays, January 20, 27, February 3, 10, 17, 24 @ 7–8:30 p.m. EST
$216 for 6 sessions

Like the journey of our lives, every prayer and prayer service can be seen as a story, a process of transformation. The rubrics of the prayer service preceding the Amidah reintroduces us to our bodies (The Morning Blessings), to our community (Songs of Praise), and then explores the nature of God (Kriat Shema), until finally, we cross the Red Sea and are ready to have our own one-on-one conversation with God: a holy conversation (however you understand or don’t understand God). If approached with mindfulness and intention, the Amidah can be our spiritual mission statement. Using prompts, short guided mediations, English translations of different denominations and discussion, liturgist Trisha Arlin will guide us through the Shabbat Amidah and the seven “stories” within it, and we will then write our own holy conversations. 

Session One: Avot v’ Emahot – Praying with the Ancestors (immediate and ancient) 

Session Two: Gevurah – What is divine power, even if you don’t believe in an intervening God? 

Session Three: Kedushah – What is holiness? How is God’s name holy? Does God need praise? What is God? 

Session Four: Avodah – How does prayer apply to service to the community, to God, to ourselves? 

Session Five: Hoda’ah – To loved ones, leaders, essential workers, health, God (ingratitude, too)

Session Six: Shleimut – Completeness, Peace, Connection, being seen and seeing

All sessions will be recorded and sent to participants. We encourage live attendance for you to get the most out of the experience.

NEW WORKSHOP: The Soul’s Transit: 24 Hours of Neshama


The Soul’s Transit: 24 Hours of Neshama

Thu Jan 62022 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM EST 

Online, Zoom


This event is free and open to all. Please consider making a donation to support our free programs and events from Ritualwell.

Where does the soul go when we sleep? How do we express gratitude for the life that flows through us when we miraculously awaken each morning? How do we praise the gift of life? Jewish prayers of the soul’s journey from night to day and back again can offer a format for expressing our deepest feelings of connection to life, to ourselves, and the divine. Using prompts, short guided mediations and discussion, liturgist Trisha Arlin will guide us in following the journeys of our neshamot/souls. Through the examination of Jewish prayers of the soul—the Bedtime Shema, Modah Ani, and Elohai Neshama—we will creatively engage with the concepts of forgiveness, death, gratitude, and praise, and then write our own versions of these prayers in response. 

Trisha Arlin is a liturgist, writer, performer and student of prayer in Brooklyn, NY. Trisha has served as a Liturgist, Scholar, and Artist in Residence and taught for venues including the National Havurah Committee’s Summer Institute,,, and for synagogues around the country. She is a builder of Bayit’s Liturgical Arts project. Trisha received a BA in Theater from Antioch College in 1975 and MFA in Film (Screenwriting) in 1997 from Columbia University. In 2009/2010, Trisha was an Arts Fellow at the Drisha Institute. In 2011, she graduated from the sixth cohort of the Davennen Leadership Training Institute (DLTI). Trisha’s liturgy has been used in services, for ritual occasions, and at venues of many denominations nationwide. She is the author of Place Yourself: Words of Poetry and Intention (a collection of liturgy and kavannot). Her work has appeared in the Journal of Feminist Studies in ReligionSeder Tefillot, Forms of Prayer: Prayers for the High Holydays, (Movement for Reform Judaism); B’cholLevavecha (CCAR Press); Beside Still Waters: A Journey of Comfort and Renewal (Bayit and Ben Yehuda Press); A Poet’s Siddur (Ain’t Got No Press); Studies in Judaism and Pluralism (Ben Yehuda Press) and can be found online at, at

About Ritualwell
Ritualwell is the most extensive online resource that curates original Jewish rituals for Jews and fellow seekers. We publish rituals, ceremonies, prayers and poems to mark sacred moments in Jewish life. Through creating and sharing rituals, hosting Ritualwell Immersions (online learning experiences), curating an online Judaica shop and hosting Rabbi Connect, Ritualwell fosters a supportive environment for Jewish creativity, spiritual growth and discovery. Learn more at

Ritualwell is committed to offering an accessible space to our community members. We commit to:

  1. Providing participants with all the session materials ahead of time
  2. Providing automated captions on all live sessions
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