Sunday, September 25, 2022

In Praise of Praise:A Rosh Hashana Invocation

Blessed Holy Wholeness,

Tonight begins the Yamim Noraim,

The Days of Awe.

And every year I like to decide on a meditation or prayer practice that I do for all ten days, and then at the end of Yom Kippur I take note of what effect it may have had on me.  This year I have decided to be aware of the word, praise.

Praising God is weird

If God is God, then why would God need or want praise?

And it comes up a lot in our prayers

So this year, for the next ten days,

I’m going to define praise

Not as flattery, but as awareness, mindfulness,and awe of the Wow  

So…first things first…

Here you are!

You made it, you are still alive! Hi! How’s it going?

My cat died, but I’m okay.  You?

Praise us, here we are, this congregation,

awesome in the days of awe,

That we are here together, after three years apart

On Rosh Hashana

In person and en masse:


Y’all look so good,

All three dimensional and stuff,

And smelly and real,

With actual books,

To sing and pray and learn

And whisper in the back rows  

Say hello to each other.  Go ahead.


Also, lest we forget,

Praise technology and technicians

That we may also join in via Zoom

For all of our High Holyday services

So that those of us who are ill or vulnerable to Covid,

Those of us with mobility issues,

And those of us who are far away

Can still join together

To sing and pray and learn

And comment in the chat room.

Zoomers, say hello to each other.  If the chat room isn’t working, wave to each other. 

Go ahead.


And at last

We can pray and we will be heard 

We can mourn and we will be seen 

We can apologize and we will be forgiven.

We are not alone.


And As good as we feel in this moment

We must praise our constant companion of late,


Born from our compassionate hearts

And our grief, disappointment and fear, 

May it motivate us to action.  And,

If the king walks in the field as they say he does during Elul

Perhaps he will take a moment or two to notice the fires and the floods

And the racism and the misogyny and the LGBTQ phobia and the fascism.

Needing some wow over here, please.

And as bad as we may feel in this moment

We must praise our other constant companion,


And I know you guys

You can’t fool me

You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have quite a lot of hope

I mean, a lot of you are activists, it’s who you are. 

So maybe your hope is on vacation or having a good cry in the corner

But it is here, with you, in you, it is in your very soul. .


Happy vernal equinox, y’all.

Spring is coming!



Light some candles and

Praise the future. 


Praise our Clergy and speakers and the next ten days.

Praise tefillah,

When we engage in holy conversation

Praise tzedukah, when we actively seek to heal the world

Praise teshuvah, when we return to our true selves and our community.

Anyway, may you all you have a sweet New Year

And an interesting fast!




Tuesday, September 6, 2022

From Bayit Liturgical Artists: For Earth’s Sake

New from our Liturgical Arts Working Group comes this offering of poetry, prayer, artwork, and contemplative cards for the #DaysOfAwe! 

For Earth’s Sake

Crafted with a focus on the #climate crisis, through the lens of the story of R. Simcha Bunim. Read on:

Featuring work from:

Liturgist Trisha Arlin
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat 
Illustrator Steve Silbert
Rabbi David Zaslow

Friday, September 2, 2022

Vidui: A Confession of Sins Against the Future


We confess and we forgive:

The times we bought leaded gasoline, inorganic beef and whole cow milk. 

We forgive the stray plastic bottle unrecycled. 

We forgive all the turned pages and unlistened-to reports

Or the phone calls we didn’t make

And the emails we didn’t send,

We even can forgive the times we didn’t vote

And the times we didn’t march.  

We forgive and we can be forgiven: 

We’re only humans after all and 

We didn’t want it to be real.  

But now we know. 

We confess but we cannot forgive:

We can’t forgive these other sins against the earth because 

They are sins against the Holy Wholeness. 

How do we forgive all the species that have disappeared ?

Or the burnt forests or the dried up lakes?

And how can it be for us to forgive the greed and the selfishness,

The times we chose to not notice the changes, 

And the times our lives were too personally pleasant to care?

We signed on to a covenant:

The earth will take care of us

If we will take care of it. 

And we reneged.

It is not for us to forgive.  

We confess and wonder:

Will our sins be remembered?

Our children,

And their children,

Will they resent our sins against them?

Will they forget the willful ignorance?

Will they forget the procrastination?

Will they forget the waste?

We will be long gone

So we don’t have to care

Which is disgusting

Because we are guilty. 

Will our children forgive our sins against the future?




911 and The High Holydays

Facing the truth of climate change

While greeting a sweet new year 

Or listing one’s petty sins

Is like getting ill 

When you thought you were well 

(but you weren’t). 

There I was,

I’d eaten my dinner, i was on the sofa

Watching TV

Some story streaming by 

And I realized

Oh, I don’t feel very good 

A little woozy 

And then, whoa, I was 

Trapped flat on the sofa by an

Unexpected attack of vertigo so fierce that

Up and Down became nostalgic jokes. 

Lifting my head plunged me into

Spatial displacement and feelings of peril so fierce

That I cried, and thought, 

Ah, this is what it’s like to have belief 

And then lose it,

Utter devastation as I contemplated the black hole

Where my naive faith in gravity used to live. 

So I dove back to the sofa to lay flat and steady,

Holding on to the comfort of the TV remote. 

It was two in the morning 

Before I allowed myself to wonder if I was dying,


Everyone I know who lives nearby has money and 

It’s August 

And they’re on vacation. 

Damn you, Maine. 

I was forced to admit that this was an emergency,

So embarrassing. 

I called 911.  

Existential vertigo

Is an apt and useful metaphor 

For the state of this planet. 

Out of whack and reeling,

Everything is new and wrong:

Disorientation, fear of death and nature gone awry.  

We had faith in our invulnerability and it’s gone. 

We used to be able to tell God we’re sorry once a year

And be comforted but

This is no longer possible,

This ain’t easily fixed with a penitent punch to the heart.  

Apples and honey won’t make this go away. 

So let us use this golden opportunity 

To ponder our mortality as a species

And then get to work. 

Admit that this is an emergency. 

So embarrassing.  

Call 911. 


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Writing Workshops for the Days of Awe

 If you would like explore some of the prayers and rituals of the High Holydays and then write your own versions, I’m offering zoom workshops.  I need at least three students for each workshop, $50 dollars a session.  Individual tutoring for $75. 

We can work on all or some of the following depending on your interest:

Selichot (asking for or giving forgiveness)

Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father Our King, but we can use this to explore names and understandings of God)

Hineni (Here I am)

Ayekha (where are you?)

Shofar service

Kol Nidre (All our Vows)

Ashamnu (We are guilty)

Avodah Service (asking for forgiveness on behalf of others)

Al Cheit (Confession of Sins)

And more!

Let me know.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

How To Sing Avinu Malkeinu


Blessed Holy Wholeness, 

How can I sing Avinu Malkeinu?

How can I use this limited name for God?

I don’t do kings

Or queens,

No vertical hierarchies. 

Verticality creates the problems, it doesn’t fix them. 

I don’t do fathers

Or mothers,

No parental substitutes.

Parents love you but they really do mess you up. 

I don’t do tribal gods

Or protective angels

I like my myths to stay fictional. 

Supernatural intervention fantasies lead to passive magical thinking. 

I don’t do male eternal mysteries 

Or female avatars.

A gendered God is illogical. 

Besides, ineffable spirits may feel good but can they save the planet??

I respect random chance 

And don’t want to indulge in wishful thinking

But, rationality just isn’t much fun.  

(Nevertheless, I hold atheism in reserve so I don’t look stupid.)

It does feel good to consider God’s surrounding presence 

And everyone’s shared divinity. 

I pray to holy wholeness

With a knowingness that I cannot explain away. 



When I sing with the congregation 

On the Holy Days

For redemption and second chances 

For me and the world,

I think I will sing,

Avinu Malkeinu,

Our Father Our King,

The way it’s written.

It’s a lovely tune and I’m used to it.  

Sue me. 


Since every metaphor leads to One-ness

I think I will then pray 


All Of The Above.  



Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Prayer For The Young And The Old

It is our current inclination to despair:

  For the young

  It is maddening to be left with a future

  Of environmental degradation 

  And fascist cults.  

  And for the old

  It is grievous to see lifelong struggles 

  Take too many backwards steps

  From what were happy endings.

It is our current obligation to hope:

  For the young

  It is exciting to plan the fights ahead,

  The anger and the camaraderie 

  And the eventual celebrations. 

  And for the old 

  It is amusing how life comes in waves—

  Inevitably the bad guys will go too far

  And they will fall, some day. We know this. 

Blessed Holy Wholeness:

  It is true,

  Kingdoms are overturned,

  Temples are destroyed. 

  Church overwhelms State,

  Fear tramples freedom. 

  Rights are won then lost,

  There is oppression. 

  There will be more pain. 


So go ahead, 

Give up on dreams. 


Young and old,