Do you ever feel that the holidays come around too fast, "before I am ready"?Read More
Some responses to
Mapping the Journey: The Mourner & The Soul
"A treasure, both visually & verbally. Its images and words evoke and invite in a way that is both simple and deep--a powerful combination." Clare Ronzani, Spiritual Director, Roman Catholic
"I gave it to a friend. She took the book to a week-long church camping retreat. She said she never had the time she wanted to spend with it because every time she took it out, someone wanted to see it, and then they read it and someone else, and so on." Wimsey Charrington, Jewish Health Care Provider
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
How do you design a holiday ritual? Sometimes it seems hard to pull together the unifying thread to all the various parts of the Passover seder. This mystery was solved for me when I learned that the meal as we celebrate it today was influenced by the Greco-Roman symposium: An exciting banquet night of intellectual discussion on a specified topic, wine, reclining on couches with a little "tv tray" of food for each participant.
The Jewish people has a habit of taking the mundane and transforming it into something for the Holy One, and so the topic of the seder became "The Going Out From Egypt," the wine became the 4 cups, the reclining, today on pillows, to liken us to a free people as opposed to slaves, and the individual trays of food became our wonderful seder plate of ritual foods.
In addition, the rabbis made an "order" (seder in Hebrew) to our evening, so that we will make sure to include all the important elements needed to make the celebration proper:
Kadesh: Blessing over the wine to begin the seder
Urchatz: Washing of the hands
Karpas: Dipping the spring green in salt water
Yachatz: Breaking the middle matzah
Maggid: Telling the story of the going out from Egypt
Rochtzah: Hand washing
Motzi Matzah: Eating matzah
Maror: Eating the bitter herb
Korech: Eating the matzah and maror sandwich
Shulchan Orech: Eating the meal
Tzafun: Eating the afikomen
Barech: Blessing after the meal
Hallel: Reciting psalms of praise
Nirtzah: The conclusion
Here is a little song to this rhyming "order of the service."
I've designed a postcard sized "party favor" with the order on the back, and my painting "Miriam Watching" on the front to enhance your seder, and give your guests a bit of learning to take home. Or you might like to send some Passover greetings. Here are some cards with a Passover theme.
As we are made ever more aware of the many woeful areas of our world that still need freeing, may your seder be a source of inspiration and energy to do what you can in your place in the world to carry on the work. May your seder be filled with the promise of Spring.
Blessings, Rabbi Me'irah
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:
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.
I am excited to tell you that my Tu BiShvat seder is available this year in book form! You can find it here. If you give it a review, no matter what you say, and you let me know, I'll send you a little gift. Be sure to include your address when you contact me.
My goal for the Spring is to publish another book on my piece: The Journey of the Soul, the Journey of the Mourner: A Map. I'll have more to say about that when it becomes available in May, ready for the 2018 Chevra Kadisha conference in Maryland, where I will be a speaker.
This past year my artistic talent was devoted to a big project: developing eight new borders for the Reform Movement's life cycle certificates. You can see all eight of them, mixed in with some by other artists. Two sample details are displayed in this post.
My wish for you this secular New Year, is that you are as busy doing things that quicken your spirit and add your unique light to the world.
Many Blessings, Rabbi Me'irah
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.