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Holiday Passover Pesach Prayer

A Passover Like No Other

Last year we ended our Seders with “Next year in Jerusalem,” imagining a new year filled with hopes and dreams realized, parting ways with visions of a whole new kind of gathering.

Now, here we are, a whole new gathering for sure, but one none of us could have imagined. Instead of the sounds of bride and groom singing in the streets of Jerusalem, we are reminded of Lamentations: Lonely are the streets.

We will gather electronically and spiritually, even if not physically. We will return to the beginnings of our peoplehood to nurture hopes for brighter and healthier tomorrows.

Passover during a pandemic places parents and children apart and together, connected and distant all at once.

Still, look around, look at the screen and see the smiles, look outside and see the season’s new growth, sense the hope so central to Passover and to us as Jews.

Still, take a breath, take in the beauty of the Seder table, no matter the particulars. See the people coming together to retell a tale, finding our own voices in our shared inheritance.

Still, listen to the voices, some near and some far, some with us physically, some on screen, some in spirit. Hear the voices urging us on, helping us to see beyond today to a brighter tomorrow.

Pesach presents an intersection in time for all of us. Our old ways and our new, our enslavements and our freedom, our history and our future.

We are reminded of the intersections of our people—with Egypt, Rome, and so many more. Each presented both possibility and potential problems.

This Passover, as we join in new ways, remind us of our perch at history’s intersections. Will we go back or move forward? Will we survey the land and learn from all that is arrayed before us, or charge ahead into an unknown?

Tonight, the voices of our past join with us. Listen close and you will hear the whispers: We Jews believe in hope. We Jews believe in possibility. We Jews pursue freedom for all. This year we are enslaved. Next year, we pray, may we be free!


Rabbi Daniel Fellman is the rabbi of Temple Concord in Syracuse, New York. 

Categories
Prayer

A Prayer for a Person Isolated from a Loved One Due to Coronavirus

Rabbi Marci Bloch shares a prayer she wrote for anyone who cannot physically be with a loved one who is sick. May they be blessed with a renewal of body and spirit.



Hold me God…hold me now.
I am afraid.
My (husband/ wife/ sister /brother /child /mother /father /loved one) is alone, and my heart is breaking.
I want so bad to hold his/ her /their hand and comfort him /her /them—
but I can’t.
Help me to know that even though I am not physically there with him/ her/them….
I am very much there.

Give me hope, oh God.
Help me to put all my trust in his/her/ their doctors and his/ her/their medical staff to make the right decisions.
Fill my loved one’s lungs with air and restore him/her to life.
Protect him/ her/ them, watch over him/ her /them, heal him /her /them.

Give me strength, oh God in this hour of darkness to know you are there holding me.
Amen.


Rabbi Marci Bloch is the rabbi at Temple Beth Orr in Coral Springs, Florida.

Categories
Prayer

Psalm 94:19: Soothe the Soul

Psalm 94:19 is traditionally read on Wednesdays. Whichever day you find yourself reading this in this challenging time, may it bring you comfort.


בְּרֹ֣ב שַׂרְעַפַּ֣י בְּקִרְבִּ֑י תַּ֝נְחוּמֶ֗יךָ יְֽשַׁעַשְׁע֥וּ נַפְשִֽׁי׃
When disquieting thoughts rage inside me, Your comforting brings me joy.

I need, we need, our world needs this psalm,
this verse, on this Wednesday morning [1], on any day.
“When I am tangled within, unsettled,
You comfort me, you soothe my soul.” [2]


שַׂרְעַפַּ֣י sar-ah-pie.
A unique word in the Bible, a favorite of the troubled Job. [3]
Perhaps a portmanteau of two words next to each other in the dictionary.
Sar-ah-pie is like saraf, with the letters sin, resh and peh—to burn.
My angst, my concerns burn within me, threaten to consume me like a fire.
Sar-ah-pie is like s’ra-ah, with the letters sin, resh and ayin extend or stretch.
My worries expand,
spreading out like flames fueled with dry timber until they rage,
filling my head, my heart, with fear and dread,
in the dark of the night and as the day dawns.
Tangled in the sheets and in my mind,
I wake. I rise.
I am unbalanced, again, like the world just yesterday. [4]

תַּ֝נְחוּמֶ֗יךָ Ta-n’chum-echah.
Buried within prefix and suffix, nun, chet and mem, nechum, Comfort.
You, God, You comfort me—
like a Parent can sooth a child after a nightmare,
like a Teacher can nourish a mind,
like a listening Friend can calm a raging one,
like a Leader can steady a country or community,
like a Shepherd can shelter the flock,
like a Rock can give shade a stifling day,
like a deep Breath can slow a pounding heart.

And finally, a Hebrew tongue twister,
worth practice, memorization, repetition.
Hold it in the mouth, release it from the lips,
know it, in the heart, by heart.
Two words:
three shins, two silent ayins, a yod at the beginning and at the end.
It’s onomatopoeia: Shshshsh…

נַפְשִֽׁי Y’sha-a-sh’u nafshi.
You, God, You soothe, You soothe my soul.
Gentle, calm, intimate.
This isn’t about the whole world,
it’s about my world, my essence, my breath.
I, the parent, the friend, the student, the leader,
a shepherd, a rock,
tangled,
I am comforted by my Breath Within.
Each breath exhaled, like wind scattering clouds,
releases a bit of pain, some worry, a flash of anger,
cools the raging fires of fear,
opens space for hope, and joy and gratitude.
These words, this Breath, soothes souls.


[1] Psalm 94 is the psalm identified in Jewish tradition to be read every Wednesday.
[2] Thanks to my student and teacher Tammy Cancela for this thoughtful insight on being “tangled”.
[3] This word appears only here and in Psalm 139:13. The BDB dictionary associates it with the root letters sin, ayin pay as in Job 4:23 and 20:2.
[4] From the Psalm read on Tuesdays: “They do not know, they do not understand, in deep darkness they stumble to and fro—all the foundations of the earth are tottering.” (Psalm 82:5)

Rabbi Debra J. Robbins is a rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas and author of the recently published book, Opening Your Heart with Psalm 27: A Spiritual Practice for the Jewish New Year, published by CCAR Press 2019, also available as an ebook.

Categories
Prayer

Prayer for Rising Waters: Getting Through Covid-19

We, who strive to illuminate for others the blessings that surround us, seek guidance for our ancient teachers. The Torah is replete with heroes forced to adjust and adapt to their new realities. This prayer invokes the Source of Life to guide us to learn from their examples and imbue us with courage, flexibility, and faith. 

Source of our Wonder and Life,
Please guide us with chesed
So that
With planning and love,
And laughter and hope,
We will find a way to cope,
And we will find a way through.

One of Blessing,
Who once blessed our ancestors,
Shine for us
A light forward,
To illumine
The unknown ahead.

Grant us resilience,
Like those who came before us:
And hope amidst the worry,
And promise amidst the fear.

•••

Guide us
Like You guided,
Noah and Naamah,
Partners who planned quickly
for unanticipated days-
Building an ark,
And gathering the animals,
And collecting the seeds
To seed a future unknown.

Help us to hear,
That in spite of our fear,
We must plan together,
Anticipating unsettling weather,
So that our small arks will float above rising waters,
And through raging storms yet to come.

•••

And please hold our children,
Like You held
Isaac the assaulted,
Who struggled to find meaning
After his life was torn apart.

Don’t let this
Childhood trauma
Close up their hearts.
Rather grant us the smarts,
And a love
Deep like Rebekah’s,
To get them through this era
By teaching them a lesson:

That by loving each other,
And by sharing our hearts,
We can overcome
Even the most debilitating
Worry, anxiety, and fear.

•••

And uplift each of us too
Like You uplifted
Sarai the soulful,
Who dug deep amidst her despair,
To discover strength
Hidden within.

Like she who fed the others,
Those three stranger-wanderers
Who arrived from a distance
So far, far away.
May we feed each other,
With manna from our souls,
Shrinking the distance between us
With words we text, tweet, or say.

Send us hope for the future –
Like her child to be born! –
So that we too may laugh,
As we telegraph,
Amidst the greatest of fear
Now sitting with us here,
That amongst all of the oys,
We will still find great joy,
Unbounded,
Unending,
And simchas so deep.


Rabbi Paul J. Kipnes is the spiritual leader of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, California. Recently, he wrote about conducting a funeral in the time of COVID-19.

Categories
Prayer

Clean Hands Carry Blessings

Our Jewish tradition has long guided us to turn to the Book of Psalms at times of challenge and at the same time to engage with these heartfelt human words on a daily basis. Each day of the week is assigned a Psalm for reading and reflection (the holy days and seasons are assigned psalms as well). 

I recommend this practice—Sit quietly, take a few deep breaths, read Psalm 24 (if you have a Bible handy), read the “Reflection for Focus (Clean Hands Carry Blessings),” write for just five minutes—ask yourself, what experiences or emotions do these words evoke for me? And then sit still with just your breath or maybe repeating a few of the Hebrew words or the English phrase, “clean hands carry blessings” for five more minutes. Show yourself some compassion, and then give thanks for your hands that can carry more than you realized and these moments for reflection at a difficult time.

Psalm 24:4-5
Clean Hands Carry Blessings

נְקִ֥י כַפַּ֗יִם וּֽבַר־לֵ֫בָ֥ב אֲשֶׁ֤ר ׀ לֹא־נָשָׂ֣א לַשָּׁ֣וְא נַפְשִׁ֑י וְלֹ֖א נִשְׁבַּ֣ע לְמִרְמָֽה׃

יִשָּׂ֣א בְ֭רָכָה מֵאֵ֣ת יְהוָ֑ה וּ֝צְדָקָ֗ה מֵאֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׁעֽוֹ׃

The clean of hands and the clear of heart, those who do not say, “By my life” when they do not mean it,
who do not swear to that which is a lie.
Such ones will carry with them a blessing from God,
a blessing of justice from the God of salvation.

(Pamela Greenberg translation)

A Sunday psalm, an any-day psalm, an everyday psalm,
an all-day psalm during a pandemic.
Instruction, encouragement, inspiration,
from an ancient world to a modern time.
The earth and all its continents, the seas and all their shores,
all of us everywhere,
and each disease,
God made it all.
A miraculous universe to share,
where we are blessed
to live and learn, care and cure, to do no harm,
to do what’s right and just and fair, and prudent,
with strength and patience and dignity.
Partners with our Creator
we battle against a relentless foe,
unseen but deeply felt, both microscopic and global.
A feared enemy at the gates,
of our homes and schools and stores,
synagogues, mosques and churches–
like God it knows no borders, sees no differences.
We fight together with heads raised–not hunkered down.
Feet grounded by gravity, rooted in the enduring facts of nature,
with clean hands to carry blessings.
We wash our hands and inspect our hearts–
an opportunity, over and again, to breathe,
and recite these words, taped above the sink:

Who will stand in a holy place?
I will.
With clean hands.
With an open heart.
I can carry blessing from God
deliver justice for all people.
Like God I am strong.
With God I can open gates of healing and hope.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ ר֣וּחַ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו

וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheynu Ruach HaOlam
asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al netilat yadaim.

Blessed are You, Adonai, Breath of the Universe,
for giving us the sacred opportunity to lift up our hands toward blessing.

This heart, these hands, my Breath can open healing gates for Holiness to enter.

Note: 1. In Jewish tradition, Psalm 24 is recited each Sunday as part of the daily liturgy. 2. The blessing for washing hands (adapted) is traditionally recited before eating a meal that includes bread. It originates in the Mishna (Yadaim), and the rabbis crafted the practice and the blessing by expanding on Exodus 40:30-32 and Leviticus 15:11.

For a full version of Psalm 24 and other Psalms, see Songs Ascending: The Book of Psalms in a New Translation, by Rabbi Richard Levy, CCAR Press, 2017, also available as an ebook.)


Rabbi Debra J. Robbins is a rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas Texas and author of the recently published book, Opening Your Heart with Psalm 27: A Spiritual Practice for the Jewish New Year, published by CCAR Press 2019, also available as an ebook.

Categories
inclusivity LGBT Prayer Reform Judaism shabbat

The Updated Gender Language of CCAR Shabbat Table Cards Makes Room at the Table for Everyone

In 2018, my first year as the editor of CCAR Press, we published an innocent looking, laminated table card for Friday nights. Thanks to Rabbi Dan Medwin, the card was almost finished when I joined the project, except for the pictures, the folding (if you do not understand how to fold and unfold it, follow the page numbers!) and two pieces: Praise for a Partner and Praise for a Child. Those two little pieces became the first two pieces I wrote for the CCAR and, in a way, for you. While writing those pieces, I made two decisions: I replaced the traditional praise for a Woman of Valor with the Praise for a Partner; and I merged two separate blessings for sons and daughters into one blessing, In Praise of a Child, including both the traditional male and female role models. 

Creating the cards marked the beginning of my work as editor of CCAR Press, but their publication was embedded in a conversation that began a long time before I sat down at my desk. For years, the CCAR has been engaged is conversation around gender in the rabbinate and in Reform Judaism, as seen in the use of “mi beit” in Mishkan T’filah, creative gendering of wedding blessings in Beyond Breaking the Glass and in L’chol Z’man V’eit, new Reform life-cycle certificates with gender-free options, etc. Since 2017, the CCAR Task Force on the Experience of Women in the Rabbinate has addressed the reality of life in the rabbinate as experienced by women rabbis, and in 2018, the CCAR updated the guidelines for all submissions to CCAR Press to include non-binary language both for ourselves and for God.

This year, with the upcoming publication of Mishkan Ga’avah: Where Pride Dwells, edited by Rabbi Denise L. Eger, the CCAR is continuing to open its sanctuaries not only in acceptance, but also in celebration and gratitude, for the many LGBTQ voices, both of congregants and rabbis, that have made our Movement into what it is today. These voices will continue to guide us toward a deeply inclusive and holistic experience of our community and all of God’s aspects. At the end of the year, we are expecting the publication of Supplements 2020 to L’chol Z’man V’eit: For Sacred Moments/The CCAR Life-Cycle Guide (or, as you might also call it, “The Rabbi’s Manual”), which includes individual prayers and complete rituals mindful of the different identities and life choices we embody together. 

Jewish expectations are high and overarching, and they get reiterated again and again: in the words of the traditional Woman of Valor; in the Blessing for Children on Friday Nights; and in the form of Torah, Chuppah, and G’milut Chassadim at central moments of our lives. These liturgical texts make up a powerful framework to be measured against: to be smart, to be successful, to be learned; to be happily married, to have kids, to be a caring and supportive member of your family; to be a generous, active, and righteous part of both the Jewish and global community. Our expectations are high and their height is stressful. 

There are many different kinds of feminism. Some feminists focus on the protection, enhanced visibility, and full empowerment of cis-women. Others are engaged in questioning those very categories. For yet others, a feminist reading of society might lead to radical changes in their theology, politics, identity, and occupation. Some feminists make space for non-binary language; others speak and write about the pain high societal expectations so often cause for everyone.

The CCAR table cards do not lower expectations drastically: The partner described still fully embodies our Jewish values of ethics, productivity, wisdom, generosity, and care. Built out of traditional phrases that can easily be sung to traditional tunes, the Praise for a Partner still describes an ideal partner, and the gender-inclusive Blessing for Children is neither non-binary nor does it provide less-than-idealistic role models to the youngest of our family members.

It is all the more important, then, that we hold in our thoughts some guiding principles while our lips speak these renderings of traditional liturgy:

  • In the words of liturgist Marcia Falk: We bless our children for who they are right now—and for who they will become (Marcia Lee Falk, The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, The Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival (New York: CCAR Press, 2017), p. 124–125). 
  • We bless our partners for all they are to us—and all they will become. 
  • It is our full acceptance and love for all this is that make Shabbat into a piece of the world-to-come (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 57b)—our knowledge that whoever we are right now might not be perfect, but it is good (enough) for this very moment.
  • Finding the balance between our acceptance and love of ourselves, others, and the world we inhabit and our openness and readiness to change is part of our often winding journeys: as adults, children, partners, parents, siblings, colleagues, bosses, and assistants.  

Because what we want, ultimately, is to create spaces that are filled with Shabbat, food, and blessings—for everyone present. For absolutely everyone. 

Categories
chaplains congregations Convention General CCAR Prayer Rabbis

A Full and Diverse Rabbinate

I grew up in a small South Georgia town. “Shabbat” services were every other Sunday evening, as our congregation of 18 or so families did not have a full-time rabbi, but would invite the rabbi in a neighboring community to visit. (One of our rabbis was Julius Kravitz, z’l, who later was on the faculty of HUC-JIR in New York, and who led our 1963 summer program in Cincy.)

We were CLASSICAL reform. Caps intentional. Never would a kippah be allowed! Once I was old enough to go to Temple, I never missed a service. One of my earliest memories was sitting in the pews, and opening the Union Prayer Book, of blessed memory. I would look at the title page, and was in awe that the publisher was the Central Conference of American Rabbis. I could not imagine a more august group. Never did I think that my life would take a path that would lead me to being a member for fifty years. And never have I considered myself to be “august.”

During my early rabbinic career, I led worship from the Union Prayer Book. Later came the Gates of Prayer series. And then, just a few months before my retirement in 2008, I introduced Mishkan T’filah. I am not lamenting these changes, for I see them as clear examples that our Reform movement is alive and changing. The English of the UPB still moves me, but the words of the scholars of our movement today also speak my heart.

My rabbinate has always been in small communities; perhaps this is because of my childhood. That means that in the pre-internet days I was often quite isolated, but somehow, I was aware of the changes that were happening, and always understood that my responsibility was to take my flock, no matter how small, and to create an environment where they would be comfortable wherever they went.

After ordination in 1970 I served in Lincoln, NE and Springfield, OH before entering the United States Air Force as a Chaplain. I was stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs (twice), the Military Air Lift Command headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, IL near St. Louis, Royal Air Force Mildenhall in the United Kingdom near Cambridge, and Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. After 20 years of active military service I retired and became the founding rabbi of Temple Beit Torah in Colorado Springs, CO.

I now have the luxury now to sit in the pews and experience worship led by the talented and caring clergy team at Temple Beth El in Madison, WI. This has afforded me the opportunity to become more personally involved in prayer. I no longer worry about what’s on the next page. One of the most wonderful observations is the level of participation by the congregation. The Jew in the Pew is much more involved; the UPB model of “Congregation” responding to “Leader” is no more. We all chant the V’ahavtah and the prayers of the Amidah. Beth El has a Team Torah consisting of lay members who chant Torah. (I’m the only member of the group who reads Torah, I never learned to chant!)

Like life, like any rabbinical career, there have been ups and downs. I cannot do anything about the unpleasant times, but I can re-live and get pleasure from the joys. Such as uniting couples in marriage and watching them grow into families. (The first couple I married in the summer of 1970 will celebrate 50 years this summer!) Vivian and I served tea to Prime Minister Begin when his plane stopped for fuel in England. I’ve led High Holy Day worship in the Rashi Synagogue in Worms, Germany. And I have participated in many little ‘common’ moments that are a part of being a rabbi and involved in the life of congregants. I’ve spent hours in hospitals just being a presence in a time of great stress.

Upon retirement I discovered NAORRR, and found great joy in being with colleagues, some who were long-time (but not ‘old’) friends, and I’ve made many wonderful new ones who have had similar rabbinical journeys. When I attend the annual NAORRR convention I always remember that I was blessed to have two study partners of blessed memory at HUC – Howard Folb, z’l, and Jonathan Plaut, z’l. Their early deaths left a void that has affected me greatly. May their memories be for a blessing.


Rabbi Irvin Ehrlich coordinates CCAR Sharing Our Lives announcements.

Categories
CCAR Convention Prayer

‘Elohim nitzav baadat El’—Standing Together In the Divine Assembly at CCAR Convention 2020

One of the things I love most about coming to CCAR Convention each year is the chance to pray with other rabbis. Shared t’filah each morning mean getting to be part of a “congregation” of people who know liturgy intimately and who share a vocabulary about the range of what prayer is “for.” 

Coming together this way, for me, means getting to sink into something so comfortably familiar, with others I may have once davened next to each day at HUC-JIR, or whom I’ve never met before but with whom I nonetheless share so much common, core experience of prayer. It means getting to learn from being led by colleagues, some of whose expertise I may technically share but whose prayer leadership can help me to examine, hone, and play with my own practice. It means getting to be in a minyan as a participant, without needing to be an exemplar for someone else’s spiritual experience, or a wordsmith to figure out just what the multiplicity of people around me need. As a rabbi who is currently regularly on the bimah, it offers me a chance to just … be part of a community and pray.

This year, I find myself particularly longing for and looking forward to being together in our moments of shared rabbis’ t’filah. The Psalmist wrote “Elohim nitzav baadat El—God stands among God’s gathering” (Psalm 82:1).  We are those whose professional work is to gather others in the name of what is holy. When we gather together ourselves, what a way to invite what is holy to stand with us, in us, through us—to give us the healing we need and to empower us to return to our own work more whole. 

I have the honor this year, on the 2020 Convention Committee, of getting to think about and plan with colleagues the t’filah sessions we will hold Tuesday and Wednesday mornings (multiple prayer options each morning, each paired with a beit midrash session so that we can learn together in the same spaces that we pray), as well as our Kaddish gathering moments each night. 

Hinei mah tov—how good it will be when we come together.


Rabbi Jordi Schuster Battis is the Associate Rabbi of Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, Massachusetts and a member of the CCAR Convention committee. CCAR Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22-25, 2020. CCAR members can register here.

Categories
Inclusion inclusivity Poetry Prayer

In Unity and Hope

This prayer was written by Alden Solovy and Rabbi Ilene Harkavy Haigh at the 2019 URJ Biennial in response to the many conversations around politics, policy, and the many challenges facing Jews in America and beyond. As we enter into Shabbat during the largest gathering of Jews in North America, we come together physically and spiritually in unity and hope. 

How fair are your tents, O Jacob,
When we stand together,
In unity and love,
In the the name of hope and harmony.

How fragile are our tents
When our fears divide us
When we allow outside winds
To blow within.

Who but You,
Ruach Elohim,
Can define who we are?
What keeps us strong.
What keeps us whole.

Who but us,
Klal Yisroael,
Can shield us,
Carrying each other
As one against the storm?

How fair are our tents, O Israel,
When we stand together,
In the name of unity,
In compassion, in strength,
For our children,
And for our children’s children.

Ken yihi ratzon.


Alden Solovy is a liturgist and poet who has written five books including This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day and This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings, both from CCAR Press. He is currently the Liturgist-in-Residence at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. Rabbi Ilene Harkavy Haigh is the rabbi at Congregation Shir Shalom in Woodstock, Vermont and has been the recipient of the Bonnie and Daniel Tisch Leadership Fellowship, the Michael Chernick Prize in Rabbinic Literature, and the Weisman Memorial Prize in Homiletics, among others.

Categories
Books Healing Poetry Prayer spirituality

Book Excerpt: “Amen: Seeking Presence with Prayer, Poetry and Mindfulness Practice,” By Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar

CCAR Press is honored to release Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar’s latest book, Amen: Seeking Presence with Prayer, Poetry and Mindfulness Practice. This collection includes prayers for personal use, prayers for use at communal gatherings, prayers and readings for moments of grief and moments of joy, a collection of daily Psalms, and focus phrases and questions for meditation. Rabbi Kedar’s new book is available for purchase now.

Below, we are share one of the many inspiring passages found in Amen.

Amen: Seeking Presence with Prayer, Poetry and Mindfulness Practice, and other publications by Rabbi Kedar, are available for purchase here.

“The Archaeologist of the Soul”

I suppose that the archaeologist
delights in brokenness.
Shards are proof of life.
Though a vessel, whole, but dusty
and rare, is also good.

I suppose that the archaeologist
does not agonize over the charred
lines of destruction signifying
a war, a conquest, a loss, a fire,
or a complete collapse.
The blackened layer
seared upon the balk
is discovery.

So why do I mourn,
and shiver,
and resist?
Why do I weep
as I dig deeper
and deeper still?
Dust, dirt,
buckets of rubble,
brokenness,
a fire or two,
shattered layers
of a life that
rebuilds upon
the discarded,
the destroyed,
and then
the reconstructed,
only to break again,
and deeper still,
shards upon shards,
layers upon layers.

If you look carefully,
the earth reveals its secrets.
So does the soul,
and the cell,
and the sinew,
and the thought,
and the wisp of memory,
and the laugh,
and the cry,
and the heart,
that seeks its deepest truth,
digging down,
down to bedrock.

Rock bottom they call it,
and in Hebrew,
the Mother Rock.

God of grace,
teach me
that the layers
of brokenness
create a whole.


Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar is the senior rabbi at Congregation BJBE in the Chicago area. Her previously published books include God Whispers, The Dance of the Dolphin (Our Dance with God), The Bridge to Forgiveness, and Omer: A Counting. She is published in numerous anthologies and is renowned for her creative liturgy. Rabbi Kedar teaches courses and leads retreats that explore the need for meaning and purpose in our busy lives, creating an intentional life, spiritual awakening, forgiveness, as well as inspirational leadership and creating the synagogue for the twenty-first century. Her latest work has culminated in the newly released Amen: Seeking Presence with Prayer, Poetry and Mindfulness Practice, now available for purchase through CCAR Press.