Shana tova!

Happy new year to all who celebrate! Blessings to everyone, whether or not you do!

This is Life as a Sacred Text, an expansive, loving, everybody-celebrating, nobody-diminished, justice-centered voyage into one of the world’s most ancient and holy books. More about the project here, and to subscribe, go here.🌱

Just a few goodies to get us all in the New Year zone—whether or not you celebrate. (If you don’t, just take the goodies and get into the blessing zone!)

First off, a new year deserves new music, and lucky for us the wonderful Rabbi Yosef Goldman has a new album out!!! (Lyrics to this track here.)

Get the whole amazing album here.

Some exciting mark-your-calendar news:

I’ll be throwing down with the legendary (and truly lovely) Neil Gaiman on Tuesday, October 3rd, from 9-10 ET/6-7 PT1 on Facebook Live. Here’s the page for the event. (The event will be streamed from his FB page but the event page will link to it and share updates and etc).

Don’t forget to get a copy of the paperback or five in order to be ready! And feel free to spread the word to anyone who you might think would be interested in this particular mashup.

Neil Gaiman in Conversation with Danya Ruttenberg Tues Oct 3rd 9-10pm ET Facebook Live

The Kotzker Rebbe used to tell his followers who would come to the city of Kotzk to study with him:

"Remember: you may think you came to Kotzk to find God. But why would you think you need to find God? We know where God is! God is everywhere! If you want to find God, you might as well stay at home. You may think you came to Kotzk to learn Torah—there are other places to learn Torah. The real reason why you came to Kotzk is to find yourself, to gain a glimmering of God’s plan for your life, to figure out your character, your dreams, your destiny. That is why you came to Kotzk.”

Whether or not you are celebrating the Jewish New Year, remember that you have to choose to take your own time, and your own space—and use it however you need. Take that space at home, on a walk, in synagogue or church or on the meditation cushion or in front of the canvas or with a pencil in hand with your journal. But you must Do what you need to get what you need, and whether or not you’re feeling it right away, it’s actually the showing up that makes the transformational magic possible. So for tomorrow, for the next ten days, for the coming year that is just beginning right now, in this moment, may we all be able to find the ways to create for ourselves—and, perhaps, together—a little bit of Kotzk.

. Annie Dillard wrote:

At a certain point you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, the world, Now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive. You empty yourself and wait, listening. After a time you hear it: there is nothing there. There is nothing but those things only, those created objects discrete, growing or holding, or swaying, being rained on or raining, held, flooding or ebbing, standing or spread. You feel the world’s word as a tension, a hum, a single chorused note everywhere the same. This is it: this hum is the silence. The silence is all there is. It is the alpha and the omega. It is God’s brooding over the face of the waters; it is the blended note of the ten thousand things, the whine of wings. You take a step in the right direction to pray to this silence, and even to address the prayer to “World.” Distinctions blur. Quit your tents. Pray without ceasing

A List of Praises

by Anne Porter

Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,

Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,

Mad with the joy of the Sabbath,

Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,

Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes,

A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry

living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away

With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle

As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,

Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh

Of the wind in the pinewoods,

At night give praise with starry silences.

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls

And the rattle and flap of sails

And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell

Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor.

Give praise with the humpback whales,

Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.

Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids and cicadas,

Give praise with hum of bees,

Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.

When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries

We know that the winter is over.

Give praise with mockingbirds, day's nightingales.

Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle

And glossy tulip trees On quiet side streets in southern towns.

Give praise with the rippling speech Of the eider-duck and her ducklings

As they paddle their way downstream In the red-gold morning

On Restiguche, their cold river,

Salmon river,

Wilderness river.

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.

Far, far from the cities,

Far even from the towns,

With piercing innocence

He sings in the spruce-tree tops,

Always four notes

And four notes only.

Give praise with water,

With storms of rain and thunder

And the small rains that sparkle as they dry,

And the faint floating ocean roar

That fills the seaside villages,

And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,

And with the angels in that other country.

From “Gods Change, Prayers are Here to Stay,”

Yehuda Amichai

Communal prayer: Is it better to ask “Give us peace”

with cries of woe, or to ask calmly, quietly?

But if we ask calmly, God will think

we don’t really need peace and quiet.

Here is a Shabbat and Havdalah guide for BIMPOC and BIMPOC LGBTQ+ Jews. Proabably not relevant to all of you, but you know who you are, including those of you who can amplify and spread the word if it’s not for you.

And here are some pretty things. @JoeyRamonaTattooer is a Jewish tattoo artist who works on primarily Jewish themes, using Eastern European frames of reference, primarily. This piece shook me a little, to be honest—the bottom synagogue is from Zabludow, where my great-grandmother was born. It was a famous wooden synagogue, built entirely without nails. (As the story goes, the Nazis took all the people, and then the Soviets came in and burned down the synagogue.) Anyway, I find this drawing to be very beautiful and joyful, as so much of Joey’s work.2

And here are the Seven Species—wheat, barley, grapes, pomegranates, figs, dates, olives. Only these, according to the Mishnah, could be offered in the First Temple.

May it be a beautiful, wonderful new year if you're celebrating now, and if you’re not— just have some bonus goodness your way.

May this be a year of health, happiness, community, solidarity, collaboration, inspiration, love, creativity, hope, connection, growth, wisdom, learning, integrity, acts of justice, and unmitigated joy.

May this one be the sweetest yet. ✨

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đź’– Sending a big pile of blessings and goodness your way. đź’–

  1. Finally a reasonable hour for you PST folks! Sorry, people in Europe and beyond! No, I can’t change the time! ↩

  2. We will have the conversation about Jews and tattoos another day. Right now I’m having a conversation about art and aesthetics. ↩


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