A Tree Grows In Pittsburgh

I am settling back home from my visit to Squirrel Hill, the home of The Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha synagogue building in Pittsburgh, where the three communities New Light, Dor Hadash, and Tree of Life worshipped, and all lost members on October 27 of last year.

The Tree of Life is Weeping

The Tree of Life is Weeping

A part of me will forever remain there. I poured my heart into my painting, The Tree of Life is Weeping, and the community, survivors, families of the slain, first responders, received with their selves in tears and gratitude. We touched by means of the painting. To have my artwork contribute to healing—my soul has reached its pinnacle. I will write another blog about what I learned. I experienced a whole kehillah grieving, but also tremendous energy from the world community aimed toward supporting, giving, healing: Tikkun Olam in the deepest sense of the Hebrew word: correcting and transforming evil energy into good. The Tree of Life, the universal symbol of miraculous diversity, harmony, peace and thriving is being nourished by many, in the face of this tragic assault.

I have made a decision to offer giclee art prints of the painting for sale, and donate a portion of the proceeds to the Pittsburgh affiliate of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society or HIAS. Because the local community supported HIAS, it was targeted by the shooter.

Erev TuBishvat January 20

A wise person once taught me that even in the “dead” of winter, when all the flora looks inactive, if you look very closely, you will see tree buds beginning to form. Our beautiful Jewish holy day of the 15th day of the Jewish month of Sh’vat whispers this secret to us: The flow of a new growth cycle has begun. The life flow of the Universe is being restored. This holiday, The New Year of the Trees, has become the receptacle for our contemporary awareness of ecology and our longings for a thriving Planet Earth.

In contrast, TuBishvat Seder hearkens back to the purely spiritual interpretation of the holiday given by the Jewish mystics in the 16th Century Sfat. The book includes a brief history of the evolution of the holiday, instructions for the preparation of this simple “fruit seder,” and of course, beautiful illustrations of mystical paintings.

Click here to purchase the book

Tree with Roots in Heaven

Four Worlds


Tree with Roots in Heaven

Tree with Roots in Heaven

Blessed are You in Your Coming

Blessed Are You in Your Coming

Blessed Are You in Your Coming

We learn from our ancestor Abraham to welcome the guest: “He lifted up his eyes and saw three men standing opposite him; when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the door of the tent and bowed low to the earth…’Pass not away from your servant….wash your feet and recline under a tree and I will fetch a morsel of bread’…..” Gen 18:2-3

Sarah hastened to make ‘cakes’ and a feast was prepared for the strangers, who, by the way, turned out to be angels. How WE are blessed when we take people into our homes, share meals and conversation, face to face, making memories, encountering angels.

This newest painting states the ancient blessing, uttered by Moses (Deut 28:6)

but this time in the Hebrew feminine.

It comes in three sizes, suitable for the front door, or hang on the wall: 8.5x11” $65.00, or 14 x 19” $250. Other sizes can be special ordered.

It also works as a card for births, weddings, going off to college, moving, housewarming, and even as a condolence card.

"A treasure, both visually and verbally..."

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

Mirror of Sightings

Mirror of Sightings

All of us are touched by death. If you don't know what to say when someone dies, give them a copy of this book. 

Buy it  HERE .

Buy it HERE.



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