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On Yom Kippur, ten characters in synagogue, grappling with identity, meaning, repentance, forgiveness...
A contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out against the backdrop of mythic Biblical rivalries.
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A new book of poetry with an old soul, a stunning cartography of the heart.
Memoir in poetry and prose
“Stories and poetry so captivating, powerful, wise… An extraordinary achievement!"
–Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

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Sukkot 5772

October 16, 2011


Awake early, before the light, my mind full of concerns, obligations.

Suddenly I recognize a message of the Yamim Noraim for me this year – “the days of awe” – just that in itself is incredible – that we have in our yearly Jewish cycle days designated for awe. So what seems to be a message they have brought me this year? That starting over is hard, that starting over is a gift if we can muster the will and the energy to open the gift and claim it as ours. (more…)

Yom Kippur part 3 - in community

October 5, 2011

Tags: Yom Kippur, prayer, davening, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, JCA


In the last posts I've been reflecting on different aspects of Yom Kippur including the singular, solitary observance of the day. Now I want to say something about Yom Kippur in community.

I see the High Holiday prayer book as a resource (Eddie's new Machzor Lev Shalem is extraordinary, rich, transformative); similarly, the rabbi leading the service is a resource, the hazzan (usually some number of people serving as cantors) a third. But ultimately "wherever you go, there you are" - while the prayer book, the rabbi, the cantor, can help lift you higher, the experience you have depends on what you yourself are bringing to it. Many of us spend the days and weeks leading up to Yom Kippur working to prepare our souls - this is the traditional blueprint - and then the day itself is upon us... (more…)

Yom Kippur part 2 - the solitary Yom Kippur

October 3, 2011

Tags: Yom Kippur, self-reflection, solitary prayer, A Spiritual Life

Though I've been the wife of a rabbi and intimately involved in the life of Jewish community for all of my adult years, I know with equal intimacy what it means to live as a Jew off the grid, not a part of any synagogue or community, invisible. How do you spend the High Holidays, how do you spend Yom Kippur, when you are one of those Jews? Excerpted from my book A Spiritual Life, a vignette from my childhood:

"A memory which repeats itself, every year, year in, year out. It is Yom Kippur. My brothers and I are home from school, everyone is dressed up in their best clothes. The adults fast, Roger and I compete to see who can 'hold out' longest. Some of this is like everyday - competing in a game with my brother. But some is different - dressed up, sitting quietly in the living room. Most different of all is my mother: (more…)

Yom Kippur part 1 - Russ and Daughters

October 2, 2011

Tags: break-fast, community, davvening, Jews and food, the NY Times



Say you've volunteered through Habit for Humanity and have just finished a day of hard work shoulder to shoulder with a group of people laboring to build a family a new home. You're exhausted, your muscles are sore, but you feel a sense of exhilaration for what's been accomplished and you are (more…)