Living the Path of Blessing…the Gift That Keeps on Giving
Drawing on Rabbi Marcia Prager’s book, The Path of Blessing, and other sources, this class will use the opening six words of our traditional Jewish blessing – Baruch Ata YHVH Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam – to explore how to make of our lives a blessing, and become a blessing onto others in the process. As Rabbi Marcia Prager writes: “Blessing offers us a personal consciousness-raising practice, a spiritual adventure bringing sensitivity and gratitude into the foreground of our lives.” By practicing the path of blessings, we may be lucky enough “to feel the Presence of God [or however you imagine Mystery] move within and through us.” In addition to learning about the traditional Jewish act of blessing in this class, we will also practice blessing one another – and become a continuous feedback loop for love and flow. As the prayer that comes at the moment of the service when we stand to call ourselves into community with one another and with the Divine, the Barchu, reimagined by Faith Rogow affirms:
As we bless the source of Life, so we are blessed.
And our blessings give us strength,
And make our visions clear.
And our blessings give us peace,
And the courage to dare.
As we bless the source of Life, so we are blessed.
- Week One: Baruch/Brucha – Blessed
- Week Two: Ata/At – You
- Week Three: Blessing Practices
- Week Four: YHVH – Naming ‘God’
- Week Five: Communal vs. Individual Blessings
- Week Six: Mitzvot – Blessings in Action
- Week Seven: Amen – Integrating the Path of Blessing into Our Lives
Finding Our Way (Back Down the Mountain): Integrating the Texts of Our Tradition and the Texts of Our Lives
“I have come, with my whole life written upon me, to do Your pleasure, My God; My own desire – and Your Torah – are mingled within me.”
– Psalm 40: 8-9, chant: R Shefa Gold
This class will take us on a journey down off the ‘mountain’ (post-Shavuot/6th of Sivan) – our renewedTorah/revelation ‘in hand’ – and invite us to explore how Jewish texts and ‘action-oriented’ practices (mitzvot) of all kinds can inform and light up our lives, and vice versa. How might we language, integrate and ground experiences of Oneness (moments of deep ‘knowing’) in bite-sized, do-able everyday practices? Are there ‘mitzvot,’ observance of which is largely a matter of personal temperament and inclination for us as Renewal Jews, that we might choose to lean into, perhaps for the very first time – or with renewed conviction and/or curiosity – that might bring more depth and beauty into our lives?
Rebbe Zalman, z”l, noted that, if we “allow ourselves to be influenced by the accumulated experience of the Jewish past, we begin to tap a great source of energy.” Are there ways that we can allow this ‘accumulated experience’ to re-energize and nourish our Jewishness as we head into the summer months, in the days and weeks after the ‘high’ of Shavuot? In this 5-week class we will weave our individual stories and experiences into sacred stories, as well as integrate these into the rich tapestry of our ever-emerging, collective, Jewish (textual and ritual) experience.
Polishing our Prisms, Refracting the God-Light: A 7-Week Journey from Egypt to Sinai through Jewish Spiritual Practices and Intentional Doodling
This class will take us on a journey from the very beginnings of liberation (from Mitzrayim/the Narrow Place) to the cusp of revelation at Mt Sinai (on Shavuot). We will journey with purpose through the 7 weeks of the Omer, nourishing our souls and refining our questions by engaging Jewish texts, exploring micro-spiritual practices and discovering ‘next steps’ through “intentional doodling” – which Reb Patrice defines as doodling “with an intention in mind (for example, the intention to gain insight about a certain topic), and being consciously aware of your thoughts and feelings during and after your creating.” No prior knowledge of Hebrew or artistic talent or skill is required. You don’t even have to consider yourself creative (though everyone is creative in their own way!) Come playfully identify, explore and celebrate your unique gifts this Omer, that you might harvest the revelation your neshama/soul yearns for this Shavuot.
- April 1: Unconditonal Love (Chesed)
- April 8: Containment (G’vurah)
- April 15: Compassion and Forgiveness (Tiferet)
- April 22: Flowing Outward (Netzach)
- April 29: Lighting Up from Within (Hod)
- May 6: Refining the Blueprint (Yesod)
- May 13: Enlivening Existence (Malchut/Shechina)
Four Worlds, a Silly Interlude and Four Promises: Journeying Together from Tu B’Shvat to Pesach
This class will take us on a journey from the seedlings of hidden spring (sap rising at Tu B’Shvat) to the heady promises offered by YHVH to us (in Torah) at the beginning of Parashat Va’era in order to embrace the full moon of Nissan bursting with new possibilities at Pesach. We begin our journey by first settling in, digging deeper into the evening prayers of our tradition and enlisting them in our search to uncover those quiet not-yet-born saplings-becoming. Next, we take a break from the intensity of introspection on Purim to see what laughter harvests. Thirdly, through an exploration of YHVH’s four verbs of promise, we prepare ourselves to be (re)born into freedom once again. The final promise is one of Divine connection: “I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6: 7). Which is just another way of saying that if we do our work, then God will be right there waiting for us, where God has been all along. And we can take up our timbrels and rejoice in our recognition that “surely, YHVH is present in this place, and I did not know it!” (Genesis 28: 17)
- January 28: The World of Assiyah: Ma’ariv Aravim – Planting Seeds
- February 4: The World of Yetzirah: Ahavat Olam – Opening Hearts
- February 11: The World of Briyah: Sh’ma – Listening for/to Oneness
- February 18: The World of Atzilut: Mi Chamocha/Ufros Aleynu – Experiencing Awe and Seeking Protection
- February 25: A Week of Integration and Silliness – Purim
- March 4: First verb of promise: Hotzeiti – I will bring you out
- March 11: Second verb of promise: Hitzalti – I will deliver you
- March 18: Third verb of promise: Ga’alti – I will redeem you
- March 25: Fourth verb of promise: Lakachti – I will take you
Re-igniting our God-sparks: Cultivating Hope, Courage and Faith during Kislev
Kislev is an auspicious month to live into the promise of our intentions, to persist in our efforts to bring more light to that which troubles or challenges us, and to cultivate our ‘faith in miracles.’ All of which is another way of saying: “Yay! Possibility!” As we settle into our homes and our hearts for the quieter, darker winter months, this 3-week class will encourage us to gift ourselves appreciation of what nourishes and ignites our souls. In the words of Rabbi Naomi Levy, let us “begin to have glimpses of magical threads of connection,” and share “flashes of insight” that will light up our individual and collective journeys as well as strengthen our resolve to invite hope, courage and faith into our lives and spiritual practices. Come light up your inner landscape in the weeks leading up to Chanuka – and together we can spark goodness for 2021 and beyond!
- December 2: Hope
- December 9: Courage
- December 16: Faith
Elul and Tishrei Prayer Intensive: 60 Days of/for Prayerful Renewal
The 60 days from the last day of the month of Av to the end of the month of Tishrei are ripe with ritual and liturgical opportunities to explore the consequences of our being co-creators in this realm and to cultivate the belief that everything we domatters. Each and every one of us matters. How we learn from our mistakes and support each other in course corrections – however infinitesimal or large – matters. The Jewish tradition teaches that during the month of Elul, the Divine can be met “in the field,” that G!d is just waiting for us to pull up a chair, so to speak, and have a good schmooze. Knowing that we are loved, that we are held in grace/chen – or making space for the yearning for a sense of connection – we can dig deeper, reflect further, come to see where we let ourselves and others down in the past year. Without rebuke, but with loving support, we begin to right the wrongs, reflect on our shadow side, invite in Light in its many guises. And in so doing, we can draw inspiration from some amazing prayers and practices along the way.
This course will provide an opportunity to wrestle with some of the traditional prayers of confession which might, at times, challenge us, while also – in the true spirit of Jewish Renewal – make space for our own creative reformulations of the practices of forgiveness and repentance handed down through the generations. We will also strive to build a sacred container within the group to ground the many experiences of the holiday cycle of Tishrei – taking time together to marinate in, and integrate, our experiences through services and other offerings in the wider community during this heady month of celebration and returning to Source.
- Aug 20: Taking Stock: Ending 5780 and Starting 5781 on Solid Footing
- Aug 27: Cultivating Belovedness: Drawing Nurturance from Psalm 27
- Sept 3: Entering S’lichot: Prayers and Practices of Forgiveness
- Sept 10: Longing for Inner and Outer Peace: Prayers and Practices of Teshuvah
- Sept 17: Sounding the Call: Rejoicing in Awakenings on the Cusp of Rosh HaShanah
- Sept 24: Welcoming New Encounters: The 13 Attributes of G!d
- Oct 1: Integrating the Experiences and Learnings of Yom Kippur
- Oct 8: Harvesting Joy, Playing with Words: Sukkot and Simchat Torah Revisited
- Oct 15: Coming in for a Landing and Transitioning into Everyday Holiness