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The shehechiyanu blessing thanks the creator for giving us life, sustaining us, and allowing us to reach this day. This blessing is said at momentous occasions, and tonight counts because it is the night when we can finally look back on the whole previous year. We made it! Whether bitter or sweet, difficult or fun, tonight we celebrate and feel grateful for making it to today, and to this table to reflect with people we...
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...
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 World of Asiyah - Fruits and nuts with a hard outside and an edible inside
[Pour a glass of white wine, say the blessing, and drink half or more.]
Although seemingly inedible from the outside, each of the foods eaten at the level of Asiyah, when peeled or shelled, hold gifts that transcend their outward appearance. Like winter, where everything lays dormant and hidden, these...
The World of Yetzirah (Formation) - Fruits with pits at their center
[Add a few drops of red wine and fill the rest with white. Drink half or more.]
We now drink our second cup of wine. Just as each new stream begins with a trickle, each flower with a single bud, just a few drops of color transform the hue of our wine. Although we discard the pits of these fruits, they are the...
The meal is coming to a close. But we’re not quite done yet. One of the most important parts of Rosh Hashanah is sounding the shofar. A ram’s horn makes a primal cry, and it speaks to something deep in our soul, waking up something inside us that was dormant, or asleep.
If you have a shofar, blow it now! If not, make some noise some other way. Belt out a song or try a primal scream. Do what you need to do to...
Over the course of our Yom Kippur prayers, we recite the Al Chet over and over again.
V’al kulam, Elo’ah s’lichot, s’lach lanu, m’chal lanu, kaper-lanu.
“For the ways in which we have fallen short, oh God, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement,” we say. We take collective responsibility for our communal shortcomings, even for the ways in which we may not have failed...
It’s time to say thank you. To your host or to your guests. To the people who have supported you through the last year, and the people who inspire you going forward. Say a real thank you--be as specific as you can, because thank yous are like fuel--they power us for the year to come. And don’t forget to thank God (or the creator/the Universe/the mystical source of connection) one more time for the year you just had,...