Where are you on the Map?

All of us, by this time, are old enough to have lost someone close to us...a parent, a teacher, a friend, perhaps even a sibling, perhaps even a child. It throws us into a different space/time, grief does. And sometimes it feels like we can not get out from under its heavy rock. But there is a process, which most of the time, wends its way, even if at first we cannot grasp how that will happen. 

I found an articulate quote in the classic The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning by Maurice Lamm: "Judaism...has wisely devised graduated periods during which the mourner may express their grief, and release with calculated regularly the built-up tensions caused by bereavement." I have created a map of these Jewish graduated periods of mourning, and from my own training in psychology, and from Jewish traditions about the soul, combined it all into a chart of the first year of mourning. I am working on a booklet with close up images of the various details of the chart, which should be ready within a month. (Not to worry, I'll send out a special mailing.) 

In the meantime, you might want to come and see where you are, and your deceased loved one's soul is on this map. I will be speaking, free, at the JCCSF, April 22, 2:00 PM, room 206, as part of a city wide
Reimagine End of Life with over 150 events the week of April 16-22. 

Or if you are on the East coast, join me for a plenary session at the 16th North American Chevra Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference in Maryland, starting June 3. 

Dying is something all of us will need to do...and the older we get, the more we will endure it. So come find out some stopping places along the path, find yourself on the map. Know where your loved ones are. 

Blessings, Rabbi Me'irah

Love and Giving, Presents and Presence

Rains are over mojita.jpg

I learned recently that there is a difference between a gift and a present.

For a present, you have to be present, to PREsent it. And of course, presence---really being available and attending to someone--really hearing them-- is the best gift of all. In fact, I believe being present is an act of loving. 

With Spring coming soon we humans are somehow designed to rise with a fullness in our hearts. Have you ever felt so overflowing that you wanted to exclaim that joy and love to the Universe? Perhaps this is behind one of our human needs to devise a concept of God---as a receiver of our joy, our gratitude, our anguish. Perhaps this is why we have created holidays of love in the Spring. 

If you are finding your heart bursting forth about someone, and you would like to gift them with a present  they will look at often, and remind them of you, here are two suggestions:

The Rains are Over and Gone, and

Set Me as a Seal Upon Your Heart

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Set Me as a Seal Upon Your Heart.jpg

Consider sending a gift directly to someone whose home, office, or personal space would light up with new art! To send a gift, simply fill in the recipient's mailing address in your order form. Contact me with any questions.

May your springtime be filled with love and gratitude and joy and good friends.


Rabbi Me'irah

First of Video Offerings

We have added a new section to Verses Illuminated--Video Resources.

The first video offering, "Illustrated Jewish Values at End of Life," is available free for you to use as a teaching aid.  The video is a great introduction to learning about the last phase of the life cycle.  It employs a unique approach developed by educator Rabbi Joshua Elkin, PhD by presenting the topic from the aspect of Jewish values rather than simply telling what we "do" in chronological order.  In this way the emphasis is on the meaning of what we do.

Have a look!  It's 11 minutes long and is illustrated with my drawings executed on the iPad.

If you would like to receive (approximately monthly) announcements of what's new at Verses Illuminated, including my upcoming booklet, "Journey of the Mourner, Journey of the Soul: A Jewish Map," please sign up here.


Rabbi Me'irah

Earth Day!

I was surprised to find that I have  four illuminations related to the Earth. But then, The Earth---it's our most foundational/grounded/tangible/concrete reality, isn't it? There are many aspects of the Earth represented here: How we cannot own it, how it is medium that makes us part of the life cycle, how it is alive, and sustains everything living, and how it needs our loving care, and a rest. Scroll down to see these these paintings, and learn the story behind each one. 

 The Earth is MINE!

The Earth is MINE!

This image portrays some humans somewhere engaged in a Talmudic argument from Pirke Avot 5:13, clarifying what is legitimately "mine," and "yours..." Meanwhile, Leviticus 25:23 responds in Eternal words reminding us that we are but "sojourners and settlers" on God's Earth. Click here for more.

East of Eden

Both birth and death are found in this page styled like a page of Talmud, with the central text in the center. Texts from both Torah, and a contemporary Catholic poet, Donna Henderson, round out the human relationship to the Earth. Read more about it here.

 Earth Becoming Beet

Earth Becoming Beet

How DOES a funny looking little seed become a juicy, beautifully colored, delectable vegetable? This illumination reminds us that everything is transforming all the time, quietly, magnificently, whether we notice it or not. Click here for more information.

 A Sabbath of Sacred Rest for the Land

A Sabbath of Sacred Rest for the Land

And finally, a wisdom known to all ancient traditions, that as a living entity, we must nurture not merely exploit the land.  "But the seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord; your field you shall not sow, and your vineyard you shall not prune." Leviticus 25:4 Click here for more.