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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”).
In the sixteenth century, the small town of Safed, located in the mountains of Galilee in northern Israel, was a center of Jewish mysticism. Solomon ben Moses Halevi Alkabets was one of the many mystics who lived and studied there. On Friday nights, Alkabets and his colleagues would dress in white like bridegrooms and joyously dance and march through the fields outside town to greet the Sabbath, which...
Abraham Joshua Heschel. a rabbi who marched for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King, Jr
Wrote that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings,
That indifference to evil is worse than evil itself
That in a free society, some are guilty but all are responsible
May we continue to practice tikkun olam, repairing the world
Af-Bri (Anger-Health) is the name of the angel of rain; he thickens and forms clouds, he empties them and to cause rain. Water to crown the valley’s vegetation, may it not be withheld because of our debt. In the merit of the faithful ancestors protect the ones who pray for rain. Blessed are you, Hashem, shield of Abraham. You are eternally mighty, my Lord, the resuscitator of the dead; abundantly able to save. May the...
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...
No matter what temper tantrum or adolescent rebellion marked the week that is past, we take a moment to place our hands on our children’s heads and to offer them words of pure love.
The blessing for boys derives from Jacob’s blessing to his grandsons, Ephraim and Menashe, who are the first pair of siblings in the Bible who love each other rather than fight each other. The blessing for girls invokes the memory...
Nearly all Jewish holiday begin with lighting candles, and so this one will, too. After we light the candles we wave our hands in three big horizontal circles to symbolically bring the light closer to us, and then cover our eyes while we say the blessing. When the blessing is over take a moment of silent reflection with your eyes covered, and then open your eyes and enjoy the beauty of candlelight, bringing you into the...
For Ashkenazi Jews, the primary symbolic food of Rosh Ha-Shanah is apples dipped in honey, a way of wishing for a sweet new year. Before eating apples and honey, say the following blessings:
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam borei pri ha-eitz.
Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the universe, who creates fruit of the tree.
Yehi ratzon lifanecha, Adonai Eloheinu,...