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Hearing a Riot

06/03/2020 11:20:59 AM

Jun3

Rabbi Brent Spodek

One of the many names the Jewish tradition has for the Holy One is Shomea Tefila - the One who hears prayers. Every day in the Amidah, the central Jewish prayer, we hope that the Holy One hears our formal prayers, uttered in the sanctuary, and the intimate prayers, whispered in a hospital...Read more...

Shavuot 2020

05/27/2020 02:31:57 PM

May27

Rabbi Brent Spodek

 

     Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Ruth in the Field with Boaz

Tomorrow evening, May 28 will mark the beginning of Shavuot, possibly the least known of the major Jewish holidays. 

We’ll be...Read more...

An update from the BHA Atid Team

05/12/2020 03:08:29 PM

May12

Rabbi Brent Spodek

 An update from the Atid team:

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended all of our lives but not the Atid listening campaign.  Yes, the pandemic has slowed our progress a little but not by much.  Thanks to the efforts of Rabbi Brent and a dedicated and persistent...Read more...

Acknowledging Our Shadows

05/06/2020 11:58:58 AM

May6

Rabbi Brent Spodek

One of the most important pieces of my rabbinic education was the fellowship I had at B’nai Jeshurun, and one of the most significant blessings of my time at BJ is my relationship with Marcelo Bronstein. 

Marcelo is a rabbi - my...Read more...

Who Do We Become

04/29/2020 02:02:09 PM

Apr29

Rabbi Brent Spodek

Barack Obama holding an umbrella for Valerie Jarrett and Anita Decker Breckenridge

This week, we read that we are to “be holy, for I, Adonai, am holy,’ – which sounds good, but is...Read more...

Leprosy in the Time of Coronavirus

04/22/2020 11:12:24 AM

Apr22

Rabbi Brent Spodek

 

What do you do when people start to

By William Brassey Hole (1846-1917) from “Old Testament History” (Eyre and Spottiswoode 1925). 

get sick? How do we, as a society, treat a terrifying, contagious disease?

Read more...

Omer in a Pandemic

04/15/2020 12:55:52 PM

Apr15

Rabbi Brent Spodek

Now, like always, some days are better than others. 

Some days, things are flowing, I’m connected with my family, I’m engaged with my phone calls and emails, the sun is shining and I find a chance to go for a run or a hike and I’m hopeful that our...Read more...

Peace Under Siege

04/02/2020 04:39:16 PM

Apr2

Rabbi Brent Spodek

 

For all intents and purposes, we are living through war. 

We are under siege from an enemy we cannot see and which we might very well be harboring in our own bodies. We are bracing for a death toll two to five times worse than the...Read more...

Peace in times of fear

03/25/2020 04:45:52 PM

Mar25

Rabbi Brent Spodek

During today's 1 PM meditation, we reflected on the poem You Mustn't Show Weakness, by Yehudah Amichai, with this powerful verse:

This is the situation:

If I take the plug out of the tub

After a pleasant and luxurious bath,

I feel that all Jerusalem and with it the whole world

Will empty out into the great darkness

Indeed, in these truly crazy times, I do enjoy pleasant moments, if not luxurious baths. I delight in getting to take long walks with my nearly teen-aged daughter and getting to have a catch with my son in the middle of the day. When I am in those moments, life is indeed pleasant. But then I go back to my messages and the news and feel the anxiety of this community and it resonates with the anxiety in my own heart. Who will next be diagnosed? How will our many freelancers and consultants weather this economic storm? Will our badly battered political and civic structures be able to withstand this? Will the next jolt to our collective system be the one that knocks the plug loose, with Jerusalem and the whole world emptying out into the great darkness?

There is no certainty in this world, and in moments like these, we are painfully aware of our lack of certainty. At times like this, when fear is a constant companion, I come back to the liturgy that I feel bold enough to leave behind in easier times. In particular I come to one verse from Psalm 122 - יְהִֽי־שָׁלֹ֥ום בְּחֵילֵ֑ךְ שַׁ֝לְוָ֗ה בְּאַרְמְנֹותָֽיִךְ׃ / May there be peace in your fortresses, equanimity in your battlestations. (Equanimity is just a fancy word for chill-ness). I chant it with this tune by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, rendered by his daughter Neshama.

 

I chant it with the hope that in those moments when I rush to my battlestations, ready to protect myself and those I love from enemies real or imagined, I can find that place of peace and equanimity. For sure, there are moments to fight - against disease or against inept and corrupt political leaders - but not every moment is that moment, despite how it might feel at times. Sometimes - oftentimes, in fact - the moment in front of us is a moment to be still, to sing, to learn, to give thanks for what blessings we do enjoy, even if they are not every blessing we hope for.   

I pray that all of us who feel locked in our fortresses and battlestations -- even those who are facing the real pain of this situation -- can find that peace and equanimity. If you are looking for help on that front, or just company on the journey, please look below to find out how to join me and/or Cantor Ellen for our on-line classes and meditations.

With blessings,

Rabbi Brent

Updates: Confirmed Cases + Ways to Help

03/23/2020 04:25:46 PM

Mar23

Dear Friends:Some updates in these hard times. There are four known cases of coronavirus in our congregation; we pray for their speedy recovery aRead more...
Fri, June 5 2020 13 Sivan 5780