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Introduce yourself to the people sitting on either side of you. Share a blessing that you received over the past week with them (“I had really great luck with parking spots today” “I got a good grade on a big exam this week” “I made it to exercise class three times this week and it felt wonderful and empowering”). If you can’t think of anything, just say, “I made it through the week to Shabbat!” After you have shared your blessings, give a blessing to each of your neighbors for the next week. It can be very personal, very general, or anywhere in between (“May you get a whole afternoon to relax and unwind tomorrow” “May you pass into the next level in your karate class” “May you be filled with peace in the week that comes”).
We wash our hands in the same way that the ancient priests would purify themselves before engaging in the Temple service. Since we no longer have a Temple, today our tables are our altars.
Wash your hands with water, pouring three times onto each hand, and recite the blessing.
Maintain silence until everyone has finished washing, and are ready to break bread together. In place of speech, however, one is...
The Tu B'Shevat seder is a celebration of our relationship with nature and with fruit trees in particular, and a time for reflection. Today, as we celebrate together, let us envision ourselves as partners in shaping, cultivating, and healing the natural world. The Tu B'Shevat Seder is split into four sections, each reflecting the seasons and symbolizing different aspects of the trees and our own lives. Each section is...
The Yamim Noraim (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) are here. We’re tasked with reflecting on our lives and practicing teshuvah (returning). Through teshuvah we examine our actions over the past year, seek forgiveness from ourselves, others, and the Divine and dedicate ourselves to do better next year. These sacred days provide an opportunity to ask ourselves the hardest questions and explore all the...
The Rosh Hashanah Seder finds its earliest written source in a peculiar menu whose symbolic significance is not revealed...and your dinner menu can include many of these items that can draw on our earliest history and connect us to our hopes and dreams for our present and our future.
"For a good omen on Rosh HaShanah one should make it a habit to eat squash [like pumpkin], legumes [like string beans], kartei...
In the days prior to Rosh Hashanah, throughout the Hebrew month of Elul, traditional Jews add Psalm 27 to their daily prayers. Here’s a contemporary translation by Norman Fischer from his book Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms
You are my light and my help
Whom should I fear?
You are the fortress of my life
Whom should I dread?
When the narrow ones gather...
Expanding on the second question, Jewish tradition holds every living thing (and even inanimate objects) as containing a certain amount of wonder, as if there is a secret hiding inside of everything, yearning to be recognized, revealed and even protected. In our tradition, trees are to be respected. Just as there are human rights and animal rights, there are tree rights. For instance, you can't just wantonly chop down a...
Maximum Pun Time. There are some traditional Jewish puns for the tabletop--do you wish that you will be the head and not the tail this year? Put a fish head on the table! Want to pare away your sins in the coming year? Eat a pear! Put a raisin with a stalk of celery if you’re hoping for “a raise in salary.” This is your time to be as creative as you’d like. Go craisin-y!
We raise a glass and pronounce a toast to the Shabbat day, declaring it to be a celebration in remembrance of God’s resting from the work of Creation and our Exodus from Egypt.
Kiddush is made up of three parts — an opening paragraph drawn from the Book of Genesis, which recalls God’s resting on the seventh day, a blessing over the wine ( borei pri ha-gafen ), and a blessing for the Shabbat day (...