How wonderful to be back with our temple family! Thank you all for your warm, warm welcome in the midst of this seemly never-ending winter. And thank you for the glorious opportunity to be fully engaged in Jewish learning for eight weeks. I am so grateful to the congregation for the blessings I received during each day of my sabbatical. Yes, my sabbatical was just right – perfect in everyway.
Yes, in the coming weeks, months, and year, I hope to share teachings, insights and deep Torah that I learned both from my Mussar study with my Spiritual Direction program and from my three week silent retreat engaged in mindfulness meditation led by the Awaken Heart Project’s director Rabbi Jeff Roth; the primary goal of which to engender more lovingkindness in the world. (check out this and other links to Rabbi Roth’s teachings). http://www.awakenedheartproject.org/podcasts/intro-to-contemplative-jewish-prayer .
The twenty or so us (twelve participated for all three weeks) from all walks of Jewish life – reform, conservative, modern orthodox, reconstructionist, renewal, unaffiliated, agnostics, atheists, and believers. And from many diverse stages and places in life college students, physicians, therapists, rabbis, educators, bubbes, parents – you get the picture. The neo-hassidic and kabbalist teachings of Rabbi Roth, a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia and a long-time student of Jewish Renewal founder, Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, were well worth having to keep my mouth closed (nearly 23 hours a day) and my heart open especially during our daily prayer offerings (the one hour of “speaking”). Thank you all so much!
Of course, stepping into our sanctuary on early last Tuesday afternoon before religious school services I felt the presence of all of you and so many others who gathered there for the recent funerals of Elaine Cohen and Jim Levin. What terrible sadness and loss….may their memories always, always be for blessings. I understand that our community really came together in support of their families and I want to especially thank our temple president, Ken Eisner, for his leadership during these difficult days and offer much gratitude to our professional staff who also stepped up with unceasing support. We are truly a noble and holy community, kehilla k’dushah.
Please check out this eWeekly and temple calendar as we have several Adult Learning opportunities forthcoming with Hebrew classes, Simhat Shabbat Contemplative Shabbat mornings (with David Goldstein from the Tikkun Chant Circle) and several Friday night Mussar interactive learning conversations newly scheduled for March, April and May.
Finally, a few deep words of Torah to ponder; words that challenge and enrich me each morning when I arise. The Baal Shem Tov, the 18th century founder of Hasidism is said to have taught [a very radical idea for his time and place], “Ain od mil’vado” – “there is nothing but God [the whole entire universe is nothing but God]. What are you thoughts and feelings? Let me know.
With much grace, loving-kindness and compassion,
Rabbi Art Donsky