Science and Spirituality – For Our Children

by Dr. Tamar Frankiel

Every once in a while, our deepest intuitions about things – intuitions we often doubt because they seem fragile in a materialistic world – actually get confirmed by science.

About a month ago, I was in Provo, Utah, with a couple of colleagues for an interfaith conference. By chance, at breakfast in the Faculty Guest House we met Dr. Lisa Miller, who was lecturing for a different group at BYU the same evening. Generously, she gave us copies of her new book, The Spiritual Child. I glanced at it on the flight home and thought, “Ah, a good parenting advice book – and some science too!” I made a mental note to check out the science later and also see if the book might be of interest to my children who are parents of young ones.

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To Separate or Engage: an Age-Old and Contemporary Question

by Rabbi Mel Gottlieb

As we observe our Jewish community today, we are struck by the impact of two distinct energies that emanate from different camps. One Voice is the voice of caution and careful deliberation in the face of an ‘awe’ (Yirah) that is transmitted within their gates. This voice gets translated into an emphasis on particularism. Another Voice is the voice of expansion (Ahavah) and outreach into the outer society to interact with its challenges and contribute to its growth and healing. (l’taken olam b’malchut Shakai). This gets expressed as a universalistic impulse within Judaism.

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My Journey Through 5 Near-Death Experiences

by Rabbi Stephen Robbins

I was not born – I was removed from my mother dead. It was the doctor who breathed life into me. So began a life filled with pain and trauma: four other near-death experiences, multiple traumatic illnesses (including hepatitis), a lung disease that led to 3 collapses, a massive shingles episode that has added to my chronic excruciating pain for the past eleven years, and much more. And yet while I have lived constantly with immense pain, I have rarely suffered. Pain is a state of body, suffering is a state of mind. I only suffer when I lose my attachment to my soul. When I regain it, the suffering leaves and I’m left only with pain and the illnesses.

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3 Ways Cantorial School Taught Me to be a Better Chaplain

by Mitzi Schwarz

Mitzi Schwarz, ChaplainI grew up enveloped in music, singing and playing instruments from a very young age. This, along with my love for Judaism, eventually led me to pursue a career as a Cantor and to enter cantorial school at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. From my wonderful teachers, I learned about Jewish liturgy and service. I learned the history of the music of our people, and developed a new respect and love for Jewish music that I never dreamed was possible. Every day in class, as we sang together and analyzed Jewish music and trends, I felt part of a people and tradition stretching back thousands of years.

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Can a Lemon Trump an Etrog? Spiritual Connections in the South Pacific

by Rabbi Corinne Copnick

It was on the MS Volendam that I realized how much I had absorbed from my six years of rabbinic education. Like the medical doctor of an earlier time who made house calls with a medical bag in tow, I had taken a small suitcase of books with me, as well as the short sermons and other material I had pre-prepared in file folders before boarding the ship in Vancouver, Canada for the High Holy Days.

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Reflections on my Mother: Judaism and Radical Life Extension

by Rabbi Rochelle Robins

As a Chaplain, the topics of aging and death are something I deal with on a daily basis. This experience became even more personal for me, when my own mother recently passed away after struggling with cancer.

Our society has somewhat of a dualistic relationship with the elderly. We often see them as burdens, unable to contribute to our world and out of date with the times. Yet when someone we love reaches a certain age, we struggle to accept their fate. Society’s negative response toward the elderly doesn’t mirror our personal relationships with those whom we love, honor, and want to hold onto for as long as possible. There was little burden in being my Mother’s daughter. She was and remains a great source of love and inspiration.

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5 Little-Known Facts about High Holy Day Music

by Cantor Jonathan L. Friedmann, Ph.D.

ChoirThere is a general rule in synagogue music: the less frequent the holiday, the greater the desire to preserve its melodies. The High Holy Days have benefitted from this tendency. A handful of venerated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur tunes are treated as if they came from Moses himself. These so-called “Mi-Sinai tunes” actually emerged in Rhineland communities of southwestern Germany and northeastern France between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries. They include the familiar strains of Kol Nidre, “The Great Aleinu,” the “Ma’ariv tune,” sections of the Amidah, various settings of Chatzi Kaddish, and others. Although these special melodies are sung at special times, their rich history and unique properties teach us about the wider significance of music in Jewish life. (more…)

3 Things You Didn’t Know About the Dead Sea Scrolls
(and what we can learn from them today)

by Dr. Marvin Sweeney

The Dead Sea Scrolls, now on exhibit at the California Science Center, are one of the most important archeological discoveries for understanding Judaism in antiquity. Found in caves at a site called Qumran near the Dead Sea, they were written by a sect of Judaism known as the Essenes, who lived there from the 2nd century BCE to the war with Rome about 200 years later.

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Purim Insights

by Cantor Fran Burgess

Redemption . . . Diaspora . . . Assimilation —

What do those words mean to us today?

When I think of the verb “to redeem”, I remember my mother bringing home “green stamps” with her groceries. We would lick them, put them in a book, add up their point values and redeem them for some prize in the catalogue—a real cause and effect, and such excitement to get “something we redeemed.” You save the stamps; you trade them in for something else that you want.

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Chaplain Bob Lifson

Chaplain Bob Lifson was a man who loved simple things. Bobby – as he was called by almost everyone – loved his family, his friends and his home. A major source of both joy and strength to Bobby was his Judaism, and this was evident in his commitment to serving and being an active member of the Jewish community.

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