Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Defiance of death was not what I planned writing about tonight but an hour ago I got a message from Jerusalem: My father's older brother, Uncle Shiko, died peacefully today, in his early nineties, surrounded by his wife, and many children, grand and great children. Baruch Dayan Emet.
Posted by Storahtelling at 12/26/2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
This sixth 6th night of Chanukah is another chance to take a deep breath, focus on the flames and make an intention for less darkness and more delighted light in simple moments, more safety, more joy to the world.
(For this blog's overall intention: 8vshate:why & how )
Tonight's intention: Occupy Violence - within our selves, and in the world - words and actions, born of hate, lead to death. Each candle is a memory to victims of violence, a vigil of vigilance.
What's a Maccabee? someone asked me this morning. It really means 'one who is armed' I had to explain. More specifically - 'one who holds a big mallett' - one of those effective scary weapons of days long ago. And though Judah and co. are named thus for their fight for freedom against religious oppression it is not hard to imagine them described by the Greek press as as dangerous terrorists. Its all a matter of perspective. sometimes you gotta fight. Sometimes the fight is right. So often it isn't. What can we do reduce the rage within our own selves in the world around us?
here are six sad facts for the sixth night. Food for thought: occupy violence.
Fact #1: Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.
Fact #2: One out of every six American women have been the victims of a rape or attempted rape
Fact #3 Of the 6,624 single-bias incidents reported in 2010, 47.3 percent were racially motivated, 20.0 percent were motivated by religious bias, 19.3 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias, 12.8 percent stemmed from ethnicity/national origin bias, and 0.6 percent were prompted by disability bias.
Fact #4 91.5% of LGBT students in the US report hearing homophobic remarks, such as “faggot,” “dyke”
Fact #5 90% of 4th through 8th graders in the US report being victims of bullying
Fact #6 Estimated each year in the US 31,225 people are killed due to homicide, suicide and unintentional shooting. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day, or three death each hour.
Thank you freedom fighters and activists for a safer world.
Posted by Storahtelling at 12/25/2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Night 5 of 8 VS. hate. Merry Chanukah! Billions of people are celebrating the power of miracles tonight all over the planet, Christians, Jews and those who love them are publicizing their faith (or at their least love of tradition) with the best of intentions. But what's joy for some if oy for others and sadly so many choose to focus on what differences we have instead of what we share in common. Intolerance is born of ignorance. This is why is there so much violence and hatred in the name of religions, in the so called name of God. How can we turn the lights back on? Start with understanding that this hatred comes from ignorance. Ignorance can be fixed. Tonight's intention is to occupy ignorance.
(For this blog's overall intention: 8vshate:why & how )
Tonight's intention: I honor all beings, and all faiths, and human paths, and respect all those who are looking for ways to add light to the darkness that descends on our brightest intentions. We will take on ignorance with kindness, one smile at a time. I honor all those who strive for truth and dignity, and respect all paths, EVEN the ones that I have no patience for or piss me off. (such as the angry man who came up to me tonight, just a bit ago, right after I publicly lit the fifth candle at the Limmud Conference and added the matriarchs - imotineu - to the second blessing, and he was quite cross, in that British way and said how he wished I didn't mess with the original blessing and spoil it for the rest of them. Ahem. Even him. I get it. changes are never simple. I smiled and thanked him for his feedback and told him how important it is for many of us to honor our mothers and grandmothers and heroines and that times are changing and have a good night.) I will strive to be more compassionate and patient and respectful, while still striving for dignity and honor for ALL humans.
I dedicate this holy night to my friends in faith who are working hard to minimize ignorance and educate all people about other people' religions: http://www.faithhousemanhattan.org/
Tonight let's be the light in each others tunnel of ignorance. And celebrate the hope of co-existence - the only hope we got.
Holy Night. High Five.
Posted by Storahtelling at 12/24/2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Night 4 of 8 VS. hate. Lighting up the fourth candle of Chanukah and the two candles of Shabbat = sending a ray of light to the darkness of loneliness, where shame lives, and the broken hearted. Every light here matters.
this blog's context: 8vshate:why & how
Tonight's intention: Hello Darkness my old friend. Mid-way, mid-night over the Atlantic, the cabin lights are off, and only the flickers of small screens light up random faces. In this cozy darkness, with that-kind-of-romantic-drama-that-was-made-to-make-me-cry - I cry. Again. Secure in this darkness of anonymity, relishing the moment.
Look. I don't know who's reading this, not a whole lot of you if FB likes are any indication so I'll allow myself to follow through with my commitment to go private in public (and thus force myself do this) with 8 nights of shining a spotlight on the spots of darkness that need illumination in my life and the lives of others. So let's be honest here. I'm single right now and I don't like it. I used to. But now it's annoying and the dark truth is that even the lovely gesture of someone putting a hand on the hand of their lover in, say, an airport, reminds me of how it used to be and how I yearn for it again. I am not alone in this single solitude. So many with whom I share this sentiment come out as well - gay, straight, old, young, divorced, widowed, unlucky in love, etc. Somehow the digital age has given us so many options for connection but is also robbing us of real intimacy. Are we doing enough to help each other find love? Can we strike a match tonight to light a candle and take this match-making ritual to the next level?
I plan to. Tonight - mid way through Chanukah, lighting among many strangers at a the limmud UK conference 2011 somewhere in the middle of the UK, I will take a few minutes to think of those in my life who are lonely, for whatever reason and dedicate myself to what I can do about it: a phone call, email, smile, hug - even if to self. I'll think of ONE person who I want to help set up. Please do the same. Seriously, please ACTUALLY take a few minutes to think of one person in your life who is single and then go through your lists and gently kindly offer them a set up. You never know. Not unless we all try. Feel free to contact me for details...; )
My gift tonight is not a donation to a light agent in the world: It's a commitment to honoring the darkness and all and each and every phase of life - while celebrating the power of light and love to change it all for the better.
PS: Lit third candle at JFK, right after security - thanks to Binyamin, a lovely Chabad guy who didn't like that I added the matriarchs to the blessing but agreed that it wasn't the end of the world.. My first chabad of choice positive moment in a very long time if not ever. Sweet. Thank you Binyamin.
Posted by Storahtelling at 12/23/2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Posted by Storahtelling at 12/22/2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Posted by Storahtelling at 12/21/2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Lit the first night of Chanukah tonight at the Educational Alliance's Weinberg Nursing Home in the East Village - Russian-Jewish, Chinese- American seniors - and a bunch of families celebrating a B Mitzvah with Storahtelling in the next year. We sang in Hebrew, English, Russian, Yiddish and two dialects of Chinese. Tonight's version of Chanukah was about all people seeking freedom and dignity - all over the world and at all times.
Posted by Storahtelling at 12/20/2011
It starts tonight.
I’d like to invite you to join me, on each of the upcoming eight nights of lights, for a simple intention:
With each of our lights let‘s offer each other a light at the end of a tunnel, a ray of hope.
Each night offers an opportunity for focus on one form of darkness that we may want to name – and do something about.
Imagine this intention as one that can accompany your lighting of the candles, privately, or in conversation with others.
The goal is to make more meaning of this sacred ritual, rededicating ourselves each night to bringing on more light, with clearer focus and intention.
Scroll down for WHY, HOW, list of eight intentions, sources and links to real action
Candles are the oldest physical – metaphysical technology we got.
The lighting of the candles of Chanukah is about the power of light to diminish darkness.
Darkness has many faces: terror, tyranny, anxiety, depression, despair, illness, poverty, hatred, discrimination,violence, loneliness. Tunnels of darkness.
Chanukah candles are lit publicly, for all to see and remember the power of the possible.
The role of the candles is to remind us to turn on the lights for each other, to be each others’ ray in the dark. a light unto others.
Candles are public smiles. a single candle defeats darkness with ease just as simple acts of kindness can do so much to
alleviate hatred. The way a smile lights up a face.
1. Each night, light. From one to eight candles or the other way around.
(For basics refresher : How to Light Your Menorah )
2. Once the candles have been lit, take a moment to think of a specific darkness you want to focus on. (see one list below)
3. What can you do about it? See list of links below to chanukah and social justice activism, ideas, programs and opportunities
Consider: An intention, conversation, phone call, email, hug, donation, public call to action.
4. Occupy darkness. discuss, but don’t stay there. It’s a holiday. move on to focus on how the light can change.
5. Repeat eight nights.
Night 1: The Darkness of Dignity: human rights, human dignity and freedom – where is the darkness that troubles me? who are the sources of light? how can I help?
Night 2: The Darkness of Greed: In this climate of calling for more economic justice – what do I recognize as the darkness, sources of light, and how can I help?
Night 3: The Darkness of Disease: What darkness related to health is on my mind tonight? in my heart? What can I do to help?
Night 4: The Darkness of Love: When intimacy and love and relationships and sex go wrong – where in my life? where is the light switch.
Night 5: The Darkness of Literacy: What forms of educational darkness do you recognize, and what can you do to help repair?
Night 6: The Darkness of Rage: Have I come close to violence, abuse, hostilities? In my own behaviour or those I know. What can be helpful to diminish these rages in the world?
Night 7: The Darkness of Direction: Who are our leaders and where are we in the dark? Whom can we support?
Night 8:The Darkness of Soul: How have so many of our sacred traditions and religious paths become shrouded with dark rags of rage and righteousness? How can we help restore the spirit?
Occupy Darkness – online links
(thank you Dara Kessler for putting this together. Got more? Please share!)
AJWS Got Gelt
Ikar An Enlightened Chanukah 5769
Meditations for Chanukah 5772 Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston, IL
Rabbi Michael Lerner: Occupy Hanukkah and Christmas
Sustaining the Light a Social Justice Program for Chanukah
Posted by Storahtelling at 12/20/2011
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Storahtelling at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, MI
by Jake Goodman
Emily Warshaw and I just got back from a mega-Storahtelling weekend at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan. In just over 48 hours, we presented a whopping six Storahtelling programs: Setting the Stage, Like a Prayer, a Maven Torah Reading Ritual about Parshat Lech L'cha called "Sister Act," a Havdallah ritual (in collaboration with their fab Hazzan Dan Gross and Rabbi Rachel Shere), a mini-Maven and an educators' workshop called Meet the Maven. I suppose it was intense, but it was also reenergizing to me in that this hamish, passionate community near Detroit reminded me how important Storahtelling's work is, and how much it can touch people.
After performing "Sister Act" on Shabbat morning, congregants spoke to us about how meaningful and "utterly transformational" the Maven Torah Reading experience was for them. Without any cues from us, one congregant spoke of how inspired he was, and how we provided "access" to Torah stories, for kids and adults, in ways that he had never seen. (One aspect of Storahtelling's mission is to "make ancient stories and traditions accessible to new generations," so the fact that the first thing he mentioned was about experiencing "access" to the stories was...rewarding and fulfilling to me!). Another man saw our Maven in one service and then went to a different service where the rabbi was giving a sermon on the whole of Lech L'cha (if you can believe it), and he reported back that, as he listened, he visualized our telling of the tale as the rabbi was speaking and it was infinitely richer. A pre-Bat Mitzvah girl told her parents that she wanted Storahtelling to train her for her Bat Mitzvah. Clergy, educators and congregants all spoke about wanting something this transformative in their community on a regular basis.
There are so many individual stories to tell, but I'll just leave off by saying that it takes a lot of work to prepare a weekend like this. I've been doing Storahtelling for awhile now. While I always believe in the mission, sometimes it cannot help but feel like just another job. This weekend reminded me that, no, our job is to try to change lives through this sacred technology of translation. Our aims are very high and, while Emily and I were certainly not perfect this weekend, I do think we were successful. And I do want to do it again. I do want to continue being in the business of providing access to meaning - especially when I get to do it with such an extraordinary community.
Speaking of which.... I am so grateful to Elissa Berg (Director of Education), Rabbi Bergman, Rabbi Shere, Hazzan Gross, Jodi Gross, all the educators - and the entire Adat Shalom community. (Meeting Rabbi Jason & Elissa Miller was an added bonus.) They really do make up a special, warm, intelligent, dedicated community.
Please read Rabbi Jason Miller's blog about Storahtelling's visit to Congregation Adat Shalom.
Posted by Storahtelling at 11/08/2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
40/40This is the last day of this PREPENT journey. The mountain has been
climbed, declimbed and goal achieved: I found more focus, entered the
new year with more clarity, intention, presence of heart and mind, and
more in the body. Check! I'm pleased and proud, and relieved. Where am I now?
At home in NYC, sitting at my desk, in between building a succah in
the backyard, doing homework for school and getting ready for the rest
of the year. 40 days ago I was in love and in the beginning of what seemed like a
serious relationship but now it's clearly over and the heart is
mending. Lots to learn here. 37 days ago I started Rabbinical School. Going strong. 35 days ago I stopped eating meat and converted to pesactrian - still
happening. Weight lost, feeling's great. 27 days ago Wall St became occupied. Getting bigger. 18 days ago I got an Ipad. Easier on the commute to school. 14 days ago the new year began. Today, I am here now. Grateful, a little gassy, super busy, but
feeling grounded and ready for the year. I think this PREPENT process
helps. I have no idea if anybody read each day or even many of them
(will you please let me know? thanks! your feedback really means so
much!!) but I'm glad I did it for me. Had there not been the public
duty I would have likely cut out earlier or missed a day or two. Thank
you all, for the encouragement, comments and support. I am so glad
this was helpful to others on the path. so, to close - Here is what I wrote 40 days ago, in the first post: "Ayeka - Where are you? On a blank screen or a sheet of paper, or anywhere and anyway you’d
like – ask yourself this ancient question and listen to what your soul
says and what is the one primary task ahead of you this year. The
journey begins, like all journeys, with a finger pointing at the map:
’you are here now.” The 40 days are up, the journey begins, again, right now, with a
finger pointing at the map - where am I now - and where am I going? See you there. Shana Tova. Over and out.
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/11/2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
And I learned that I can survive heartache. have faith.
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/10/2011
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/09/2011
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/08/2011
Friday, October 07, 2011
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/07/2011
Thursday, October 06, 2011
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/06/2011
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
34/40"We who have been unsatisfied by any traditional religion have spentour lives in quest of a rose, but the closest we ever get is entering a room still redolent with the scent of a rose that was removed before we arrived."
It's unavoidable: the god factor, yes or no or other or what? Yom
kippur is here again and this prepent process, almost over, sends me
back again to probe the big one: does god matter? (and does the no
capital G use matter?)
I'm pretty sure that this entire repentance process can be succesfuly
completed and be totally devoid of theological land mines - virtually
god-free. We take stock of the year that was, focus on what matters to
us now and plan ahead for the future, full of high hopes. Humans
striving to do/be better.
We ask each other for forgiveness, deal with our shame, regret, rage,
responsibilities. We fast because our ancestors used to, we cry when
the liturgy rips at our heart with memory and manipulative poetry, and
god's got nothing to do with it. If we pray we use allegory,
psychological convictions, Contemplative tools. It's not about god -
Creator, source, judge or imaginary friend. If we address anything at
all in our pleas for help or rants of rage or simple thank you's it's
some vague sense of the universe, the life force, nature, or perhaps
our inner selves.
Over drinks a few days ago G. Asks me about god - "does faith give you
comfort"? He wants examples.
The best that I can do is tell him that yes, there is comfort here,
there is a powerful sense of being part of a plan bigger than self, a
plan that is both chaos and cosmos, random pain and intentional
pleasure, all blended up, no sense or rhyme or reason - but real and
larger than life.
I may be fooling myself but prayer helps me; at times of great need
and vast awe I reach out higher and it feels - and sometimes thinks -
important, connected, not alone.
G., ever the journalist does not relent: " do you believe in god"?
I promise him an answer after yom kippur.
And I take these remaining days of prepenting to wrap up as many
unfinished friend related tasks as possible and focus on the g spot
and my relationship with IT circa now.
What's the role of god in whatever form in your life? ( not a
rhetorical question. I'm really curious, dear readers, fellow
prepenters, do tell??)
"We who have been unsatisfied by any traditional religion have spent
our lives in quest of a rose, but the closest we ever get is entering
a room still redolent with the scent of a rose that was removed before
we arrived. We cannot easily locate God in the house of our longing,
yet we remain haunted; God's missing presence echoes throughout the
empty rooms. In the void we hear faint hymns of an ancient faith for
which we no longer have room among the endless quarks, waves and
subatomic particles identified by science. We exist in a God-shaped
vacuum. That which is no longer present (but is not completely absent)
gives shape to our aspirations and longing."
In the Absence of God, Sam Keen
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/05/2011
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
33/40Do you find it difficult to ask for help when you really need it? I
do. I need help to be able to ask others for help, esp. with
difficult personal stuff. This is one of my PREPENT discoveries, as I
go through this past year's inventory of actions and behaviours in my
life that need, well, help. I can go for a long time in a strange city with a map and not ask for
directions, and finally figure it out. Asking for help can be awkward.
I am not the best fundraiser out there - even though I know it's not
about asking for help - its about inviting someone to be a partner in
a great idea. Still.
I'm getting better with those, but it's the real vulnerable sort of
asking for help that i'm focused on. The deep cry of the soul.
Where do I reach out and ask for help when I'm stuck or alone, scared,
sad or confused, or heartbroken. Who does one turn to, and how does
one ask for help when things come undone? I count my blessings - the friends and loved ones who are there when
help is needed, and hope that I too can hear others when they ask for
help from me. At various difficult moments this past year, different
friends were there for me, helping out, helping in. And during one of those difficult moments, alone on the street, I
asked for help from God. Faith or not, this face of the divine or that or all, at times, on my
knees in some puddle, the reach out for help reaches far into all that
can be possibly there to make things better. It's a low place that
knows to rise and needs the help of all that is out there, in here. A private prayer, an intimate conversation, imaginary friend, alone on
the street, plea for help in rising up, finding focus, finding love,
remaining present. Thank you. Amen. In class today we examine liturgy and the meaning of prayers, and what
works or doesn't in public worship settings where so much intimacy is
lost. Spoke about the role of prayer in our lives - alone or with
others, why and how and what it is or is not for us. In another class
we studied a midrash about God as the collector of the broken hearted,
whose prayer for help sound sweetest. I think about that real moment of prayer that erupted for me, out of
need, alone on the street, a need for guidance and help at large.
I think about all these high and holy days when we gather to do
together something so intimate - asking for help together, from a
grander source that we do or dont' believe in. and still.
Learning how to as for help - from friends - from myself - from the
universe - is, for me, still an important lesson in learning. This
period of reflection helps me focus on that, and the experience of the
public prayers, so intense, these high holidays - adds a serious spin.
a lot to work on. I'll need some help.. and I'll hope to know how to
simply ask for it.
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/04/2011
Monday, October 03, 2011
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/03/2011
Sunday, October 02, 2011
Feeling good in your skin? in the body? I am feeling physically better than I have in a long time mostly thanks to the now 30 days long pescatarian diet - but still feel the need to cleanse - body and soul. Detox time.
This prepent 40 day process ends with the Kippur 24 hour fast - a cleanse for body and soul, a focused meditation on craving and discipline. I think I need a longer version this year. Starting today, thanks to Shira, I'm on a seven day raw fruit and veggie detox diet. It will end as I break the fast on Yom Kippur, probably on a mango. (ok, and then a single malt)
I want to lose the weight of the rage, the heavy fear, the terrible loneliness that tags along to the lack of faith that it will be ok when my heart mends and I don't feel so lonely and left behind. I want to use these last ten days of teshuva, this manipulated return process to the max. Sins are sometimes vague and repentance a big word - this feels simple and grounded in truth - purify, clean, shed.
I want more clarity of gut feelings, a plumbing job for all that is stuck.
I started this PREPENT period thirty days ago with the very least intention of change in the form of nutrition upgrade. I took on a healthier breakfast, a pesactarian diet and more home cooked meals. Check on all three.
I'm pleased to be still on this wagon - but I want also to bring into this journey the awareness of the emotional baggage that has made these days of reckoning so much more meaningful and dreadful than ever before. Eyes wide open to the pain of disappointment and the fears of being alone.
If any of you reading this feels like this is remotely interesting - find your own way to focus on food this week, on detox (coffee?) or cleansing in some way the balances mind and body and soul.
There's this beautiful liturgy for these days: "The soul is yours, and the body is your creation - have pity on all this creation. "
So, detox. simplicity. a harsh, limiting, disciplined matter of self control. One week. Go.
What should young people do with their lives today? .. the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured - Kurt Vonnegut
I know what Vonnegut is talking about - we all do. Sooner or later we all expeirence terrible lonelienss, for longer or less. Dealing with loneliness - in ourselves and in the lives of others - is a big part of what our culture is about, for better or worse.
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/02/2011
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Posted by Storahtelling at 10/01/2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Kids get that line a lot, a cultivation of good manners: did you say thank you? Grown ups, it is presumed, oddly, remember to pause and thank - a compliment, a gesture, gift, favor from friend or stranger or host or lord of hosts. But grown ups too can benefit from such reminders. I know I can. On this second day of a new year - a focused pause to make a list of thank you's. to focus on what is.
Posted by Storahtelling at 9/30/2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Posted by Storahtelling at 9/29/2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Enter in peace. Shana Tova.
Posted by Storahtelling at 9/28/2011