Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Good Deed makes You Feel Good (Oh)

There is this song that Cantor Doug sings for the kids about doing good deeds. The tag line (or the "refrain" in musical terms) is "A good deed makes you feel good! (insert grunt here). While Rogers & Hammerstein have nothing to worry about, the lyrics of this simple song actually resonate deeply within me.

I've written before about how I feel most spiritual in nature. The next most spiritual activity for me is social action. When I have the opportunity to directly impact someone's life by my actions, I feel purposeful. More than that, I feel kinda god-like. As if I have the power to change the world. Man, what a trip! Can you imagine if I really had that kind of power? I'd bet everything on red!

I believe we owe it to humanity to constantly do our best to make the world a better place. And while I volunteer, I can't help but hear Cantor Doug singing in the back of my head, "A good deed makes you feel good."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Doing Good Deeds is Spiritual

Helping others is about as spiritual as it gets. Whether lending a hand or ear to a family member or friend, or volunteering to help the homeless or help the environment. It is what connects us to each other and is part of the human continum. Paying it forward as they say. There is always a warm, gratifying experience that the end of such a day.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

This Month's Question: How is Social Action / Social Justice / Volunteerism / Mitzvah Doing a Spiritual Activity for You?

We work to transform the world. This is a central part of Congregation Or Ami's raison d'etrĂª. Our Vision and Values statement explains that we walk together down Jewish spiritual paths which touch our hearts and souls and move us to transform the world into a place of justice and compassion (paraphrased).

This vision points to a direct correlation between our spirituality and our social activism. Is that true for you? And if so, how? Or why not?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving - Spiritual???

Ya know, it has been a good 20 days since Thanksgiving and I am still grappling with this topic. It's been about 6 weeks since losing my father-in-law. Most days are better for my husband & me, but it's still a battle to feel deeply spiritual in the midst of death & Alzheimer's. Family gatherings force us to deal with the conflicting emotions of joy & loss, gratitude & illness. Maybe if I was a deeper person, I could wrangle up something meaningful & spiritual about it. Perhaps some allegory about how celebrations tend to be so double-edged emotionally. The joy of gathering with loved ones. The recognition that it won't last forver. All I can say for sure is that the experience of loss & illness make one more cognizant about the fleeting good fortune of health and youth.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Is Thanksgiving Especially Spiritual?

Thanksgiving is a unique day in that we have a huge meal with lovely desserts, have American football on TV with some of us actually playing the actual game, and see family we may only see 1-2 times per year. In our family we do go around the table and ask what each of us are thankful for; that is the spiritual moment of the day.

However, I will state that being Jewish allows us to not just think of Thanksgiving as a truly spiritual day. Each week on Shabbat we are thankful for the bread and the wine. We also say the Shehecheyanu at each and every holiday and special event (e.g., a bar mitzvah, wedding, etc.) that to me is especially a spiritual moment each time it happens, for it allows us to recognize the milestones of life that can help us connect to our spirituality.

Therefore, while Thanksgiving is a special moment in the fall, it is just one of many moments through out the year that allows me to feel spiritual.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving is Deeply Spiritual

There is something very spiritual about Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of GRATITUDE. Gratitude is especially spiritual. When we slow down and take the time to articulate the blessings in our lives, we necessarily venture into a higher plane of existence.  We transcend our yetzer harah (our inclination toward lustful neediness) to get in touch with our yetzer hatov (our inclination toward the good).  We discover the holy amongst the regular. 

Gratitude is profoundly spiritual. 

As part of a bi-coastal family, I enjoyed the opportunity to twice articulate my gratitude: first, over the phone, to my East Coast family gathered at my brother's home, and again, at our own California dinner table.

7 Reasons Why I Think Thanksgiving is deeply spiritual:
  1. I spend the week before and after, trying to touch base with members of our congregation who have lost loved ones since last Thanksgiving.  A caring community needs to remember those who have an empty seat at their holiday tables.  (Passover and Rosh Hashana are also great times to reach out.)
  2. Thanksgiving food is universally delicious.  When the senses (taste buds, smell, sight) are heightened, we recognize the beauty and holiness more).
  3. I usually get in a deeply restful nap between the meal and dessert. A rested person is more apt to recognize the spiritual.
  4. We gather family together for a non-rushed, gratitude-filled evening. Spirituality blossoms when we are relaxed.
  5. We try to open an especially good bottle of wine. (See #2.)  The smell of a great wine is as delicious as its taste.
  6. This rabbi has no responsibilities beyond helping prepare the meal.
  7. The family gathers for dinner at a normal time because this rabbi does not have to run out to lead services. (See #4)
In what ways do you find Thanksgiving spiritual (e.g., meaningful, inspired, transcendent)?