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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Rosh Hashanah Revelations

On Sunday night at sundown, Jews all over the world will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah, colloquially known as The Jewish New Year. The words translate to ‘the head of the year’ and is considered the birthday of the world. It is one during which people attend services and join with family and friends around a communal table, sharing food, love and gratitude for another turn around the sun. It is the onset of the High Holy Days that comes to a crescendo on Yom Kippur.  To me it has always been about do-overs, with realigning myself with renewed purpose; turning over a new leaf, as it were. The Hebrew word t’shuvah which is what we are asked to do as a component of the holiday,  is just that…turning. We are all called on to do that each day, regardless of our faith tradition.

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In my childhood synagogue called Congregation Beth Torah in Willingboro, NJ, I would sit next to my father in services, as he wrapped his tallis (fringed prayer shawl) around his shoulders and I would play with the fringes and sometimes sneak underneath it with him. Such sweet memories enwrapped in that experience as well. The singing, praying and chanting would go on for hours. One thing I never understood and to this day,  and still am puzzled about is the concept of  ‘being written in the book of life for another year, or a sweet new year.”, which is what are told the holidays are about. Did that mean that if someone had trauma or tragedy in their lives or died, that it made them bad people or somehow unworthy of another chance?  As an adult, I realize that things happen and people die, regardless of their circumstances or intention.

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Judaism is a religion filled with symbolism. A ram’s horn called a shofar is blown, as a clarion call, a wake up/shake up to the opportunity to practice tikkun olam (repair of the world), to connect with our fellow planetary dwellers, regardless of country or religion of origin, regardless of skin color or ability, regardless of gender or gender identity, regardless of sexual orientation.

A food combo eaten at Rosh Hashanah is apples dipped in honey, to symbolize a sweet year.

Another fond memory is attending services at Temple Beth Or in Kendall, Florida, I would immerse myself in words and sound once more as Rabbi Rami Shapiro offered his insights into the meaning of the holidays. He and other members of the congregation wrote a prayer book that was filled with poems, blessings and prayers that spoke to my heart, even more deeply than those of my childhood synagogue. It introduced me to the music of Rabbi Shefa Gold and the writings of Judy Chicago.

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And then all that has divided us will merge

And then compassion will be wedded to power

And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind

And then both men and women will be gentle

And then both men and women will be strong

And then no person will be subject to another’s will

And then all will be rich and free and varied

And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many

 And then all will equally share in the Earth’s abundance

And then we will all care for the sick and the weak and the old

And then all will nourish the young And then all will cherish life’s creatures

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And then all will live in harmony with each other and the Earth

And then everywhere will be called Eden once again

Since college, most of my High Holiday times (also referred to as the Days of Awe…one of my favorite words, by the way) are spent in meditation, in nature and with kindred spirits, not confined in the edifice of a synagogue. It is where I feel most tapped in to the God of my understanding and where I can more readily engage in the deep spiritual work that really is my entire life.

I clean up any detritus from the previous year, doing ‘come cleans’ with folks with whom there may be either misunderstanding, residual gunk OR unsaid expressions of love and appreciation. It really does feel like a refreshing waterfall shower.

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Regardless of your religious faith, I encourage you to engage in such a practice. L’shana Tova…for a good year!

www.rabbirami.com

www.rabbishefagold.com

http://youtu.be/lqeLjEBp9hg Sasson V’Simkhah by Rabbi Shefa Gold

 

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Every Little Thing

Have you ever had ‘one of those days’ in which ‘you make plans and God laughs?’  Yup, I have too. Today felt like it could have been one of them. This morning, before I was vertical, my mind was awash with the tasks that needed to be completed. The ‘laundry list’ included:  Bank deposit, drop off mortgage payment, stop at Staples to pick up headset to use for a Skype webinar tonight, a printer cartridge so that I could print out a wedding ceremony for the service that I will be officiating in NYC tomorrow, writing an article for a magazine, putting together a proposal for a series of workshops I will be teaching next year, getting a pair of shoes since my dress shoes have gone the way of all winds and while I was in the shoe store, the phone rang and on the other end was my friend Kalie who reminded me that I was late for a lunch meeting that she and my editor and I were having…YIKES!  Good thing I was only 15 minutes away. From there, I needed to hustle home to prep for the webinar which went smoothly. Headed to the gym and the grocery shopping and now here with you. At every turn, I  ‘checked’ each item off the list, trusting that it would all flow together. And so it did~

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There have been days in which I haven’t felt quite so blessed. “Spiritual flat tires.” is what author and speaker Bernie Siegel calls them. He considers health challenges in that category: “Diseases can be our spiritual flat tires – disruptions in our lives that seem to be disasters at the time but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way.”  They also include delays that have us shaking our heads and wondering “What the heck happened here?” Meetings that didn’t go quite as planned, broken objects and broken promises, messes that needed to be cleaned up, detours enroute to appointments.  All are possibilities. When those things happen, I sometimes metaphorically kick and scream and more likely, smile and wonder what the lesson or message might be. What is there to be learned? Usually it is about patience, slowing down and taking time to consider the next step.

What if you knew for certain that the words to Bob Marley’s song called Three Little Birds were true?  Every little thing really is gonna be alright.

http://youtu.be/YrBdCghy76A

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Love Trumps Hackers

 

As I was coming home from running errands this morning, my friend Phil called me and told me that my Yahoo account had been hacked. I smiled and said, “Let me guess that you received an email saying that I was in some exotic place and got robbed and needed you to wire money to me.”  I had received similar emails over the past few years from friends’ email addresses and each time, contacted them to inform them as well. Phil answered, “Yeah, it says you were in Spain and the hotel you were staying in, had been consumed by flames and you lost everything.” When I arrived, I turned on my computer and discovered emails from several friends, a few  checking out the veracity of the message, but mostly to inform me that it had occurred. Several said they knew I hadn’t sent it since it wasn’t my writing style and it was poorly versed. Within a few hours, I had received texts, phone calls, emails sent to my other address and via facebook. With each message came the assurance that all was well. I felt quite loved. I posted a few times that it was a hoax, that although in someone’s vivid imagination, I was in Spain, I really was at home in Pennsylvania and there was no need to send money.

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I then contacted Yahoo and spoke with a lovely woman named Barbie who helped to rectify the problem and I set a new password. She also assisted with restoring my lengthy address book which was a huge blessing since it has taken me years to accumulate it.

A few things occurred to me as I experienced this short term inconvenience. One was how sad it was that people can be this dishonest as to attempt to scam people when their intelligence and computer aptitude could be better used for good rather than malice. Another was that they didn’t know how smart my friends are and that they wouldn’t fall for their deceit. I also knew that it would be resolved well and it is. Lastly, I am appreciative of my circles of friends worldwide who expressed concern. Some joked about having sent me funds.

What I know is that love trumps everything, including hackers.

http://youtu.be/148Rm-KcP2k Sesame Street- Cookies and Computers

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September 11th Remembered

 

As I am writing this entry, the calendar reads 9/11/12. Hard to imagine that 11 years has passed since another ‘day that will live in infamy’ occurred. Like the day JFK and John Lennon were killed, most people can tell you where they were when they heard the news that terrorists had done the unthinkable and that countless lives were lost. I was working as a social worker in a nursing home called Golden Slipper Uptown Home in Northeast Philadelphia. The Residents were just finishing their breakfast as I walked into the day room. The television was broadcasting what I initially thought was a movie in which a plane crashed into The World Trade Center. It didn’t take long before I realized that this was no movie, it was jarringly real. I had two immediate thoughts…the first was that I was grateful that some of these folks had dementia and had no clue about the events unfolding on the screen before them and the second was that I wasn’t going to give the terrorists my fear. I know that emotions such as fear and anger feed the common pot that I didn’t want to stir. I held strong in the face of tragedy and was of support to staff and those Residents who did have the mental capacity to comprehend. Some of them had survived WWII and the Holocaust, so this may have been re-traumatizing for them.

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I also had concerns for my sister in-law and then brother in-law who lived in NJ, but worked in the financial district. I couldn’t reach her for most of the day and when at last I did, I was relieved to know that both of them were safe and sound. I had another friend whose son was initially among the missing, and whose photo was plastered on a wall in case someone should happen upon him. As it turned out, a police officer recognized his face as someone he had seen in a hospital and he and his father; cosmically coincidentally, also a (retired) police officer, were reunited. I heard numerous miracle stories, including people over-sleeping, missing rides, calling out sick, and the like, so that they were elsewhere when the towers fell or the Pentagon was under siege or a field in PA was bombarded.

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We have two choices about the way we view this dark day…through the eyes of fear and anger, or love and coexistence. While I mourn the loss of life, I celebrate the drawing together of people from all around the globe in the cause of healing the fracture in our lives. Philadelphia area singer-songwriter, John Flynn wrote a song not long afterward that so perfectly echoes my sentiments of that day and those that still resound a decade plus one later. I was in the audience when John performed this song, at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

God Bless The Whole World….No Exceptions!

http://youtu.be/g0tSC8x3V9E  I Will Not Fear-John Flynn

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