Jul 15, 2020
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Announcing the publication of: A Journey of the Heart and Soul -- poetry & illustrations by Ariel Creditor
A Journey of the Heart and Soul
poetry & illustrations by Ariel Creditor
Ariel Creditor has published - AND ILLUSTRATED! - her first book, a reflective poetry book of the experience she shared on her senior trip to Poland and Israel with The Leffell School! She writes with clear, open, raw eyes of traveling as a Jewish teenager through Nazi camps in Poland and then landing in Israel, with hand-drawn art depicting what prompted each poem. All proceeds from the sale of the book support the Student Scholarship Fund at The Leffell School! Purchase your copy here!
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So appreciate Ittay Flescher's mini-review of "When We Turned Within." Since its publication, we've already raised over $1,000 to support UJA-Federation of New York's #COVID relief work! Buy your copy today!
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Jun 11, 2020
Announcing the publication of
When We Turned Within: Reflections on COVID-19
Edited by Rabbi Menachem Creditor and Sarah Tuttle-Singer
Foreword: Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
Cover art: Rabbi Karen Byer Silberman
with Essays, Prayers, and Poems by 165 contributors from around the world
Kindle version here: amazon.com/dp/B089WGB8ZZ
For the full table of contents, click here: tinyurl.com/WhenWeTurnedWithinTOC
Special landing page designed by Reverend Ngozi T. Robinson: www.whenweturnedwithin.com
During the past months, our world has truly turned upside-down. We’ve lost so very much. What was casual just yesterday has become priceless today: smiles are covered beneath masks, generations divided by invisible boundaries, and physical togetherness deemed a danger.
And yet. Harmonies have been sung from balcony and bedrooms spanning the globe. Applause regularly erupts for cashiers and sanitation workers and nurses and those everyday heroes who keep the world balanced.
And yet. Synagogue buildings are empty and the comfort of a minyan has become digital. Funerals are hug-less, as are intergenerational family moments. And the number of souls we’ve buried… There simply aren’t words.
And yet. The skies are clearer and birdsong has returned. More people have convened for many a Zoom meal or online class than ever could have in person. We have come to know our neighbors just a bit more.
And yet. Amidst all this, protests erupted in reaction to the horrific killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, unarmed black people whose deaths have sparked an international response, shining light on the systemic racism and injustice that have cast a long, harsh shadow on the United States since its earliest days. The pandemic exacerbated already-present inequalities, and the murders in 2020 America of three human beings for the colors of their skin gave this injustice a face.
And yet. The responses to racism and isolation are growing in volume, and the voices of common citizens of all colors and orientations and faiths are calling out for justice, for an honest reckoning with the way things have been, for the end of all that keeps us apart, for a world in which no virus nor societal illness can deny a person their breath.
Friends, this book is much more than a record of loss. It is a collection of reflections, prayers, and poems of many, many individual souls who collectively tell the story of right now with depth and heart and startling brilliance. On these pages you will find honest testimony of a very difficult time on our planet.
It has been truly humbling work to assemble these voices and see patterns emerge, to feel the pain and longing and hope and faith and frustration and loneliness and transcendence of each contribution. I am more convinced than ever that all people share a common humanity, that our souls bind us together, that a better day is possible.
The arc of history will only bend toward justice under enough pressure, and the glorious weight of us all will be enough.
A few acknowledgements:
To the 165 serious, reflective, luminous, and lyrical authors who shared their hearts on these pages, thank you. You represent a true diversity of voices from within the Jewish community, grounded in reality and intentionally vulnerable, and allowed us to include you here to amplify each other’s vision of good in the world. Thank you.
To my co-editor, Sarah, whose brilliant and intuitive writing style has made her a widely-read and accessible touchstone for our time, thank you for joining me in this project. Your careful eye and sensitive soul are the reason so many authors lent their words to this undertaking. Working with you has been nothing short of sacred sharing. Thank you.
To my colleagues and friends at UJA-Federation of New York, where I am privileged to serve as the Pearl and Ira Meyer Scholar in Residence, my deepest gratitude. For allocating more than $46 million to date to meet needs across the New York region and Israel for the most vulnerable people, for embodying the heart and soul of our community, thank you. Proceeds from the sale of this book will support UJA-Federation NY’s work to make this world a better, safer, more just place.
To my precious family, (especially you, Neshama,) for inspiring me to build this world from Love, for being my holiest, safest, funnest place in the universe, thank you.
And finally, to the Source of Life, for being the invisible string that connects us all, thank You.
May the days ahead be better – for all people – than those we’ve left behind.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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As you speak of prayer this Memorial Day, I want to share my pre-recoreded prayer for today's first virtual Memorial Day ceremony at Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1pm EST. https://t.co/C5Vabuc0Ye pic.twitter.com/DXNJYzi6Ku— Arnold Resnicoff (@ArnoldResnicoff) May 25, 2020
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Deep, powerful feelings can be reawakened.
Even when the world is masked.
It can be a song.
Or the wind.
Or pairs of eyes on a screen, all facing out.
And, if tears then flow,
welcome them with a re-opened heart.
May 7, 2020
May 5, 2020
What a joy to share a blessing and some Torah this Tuesday morning, and to remember our teacher Rabbi Aaron Panken z"l, and his passion for truth and Torah!!
May 1, 2020
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Dearest Source of All,
Through these tears we call to You.
Please, Oh Please, set us free.
No, we do not mean
aimless chaos, unaware selfishness,
people marching blindly,
trampling over one another.
God, we ask for Your Grace,
a flowing current of selflessness
surging between neighbors and strangers,
a reminder that we are Your Image,
each and all.
Please God, purpose.
Please God, health.
Please God, mutual care.
Please God, soon.
Honored to share blessing and Torah this Tuesday morning, marking #YomHaZikaron and the one-year Anniversary of the #Poway attack. We stand in memory and unspeakable gratitude for all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace, in the name of life. In their names, may we be blessed with no more fallen daughters and sons. 🇮🇱🌹
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Apr 5, 2020
A Nighttime Prayer for Our Healers
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
You Bring Day and the light.
You Bring Night and the dark.
And You Divide them,
keeping each in place.
We ask Your protection
upon those who guard us day and night,
placing themselves between life and death,
fighting to keep each in their places.
Your Image is best reflected
in those who wrestle the chaos,
in those whose care defies limitation,
and whose mighty hearts
need a respite that will not come any time soon.
Loving Soul of the Universe,
please, please, please
Heal our healers.
Sustain our sustainers.
Bless those whose work
these days and nights
holds up Your whole universe.
May we, Your children,
wake to a world reborn just a bit,
spirits renewed just a bit,
healers strengthened, just a bit.
Apr 3, 2020
Apr 2, 2020
from an inside place: a poem
rabbi menachem creditor
Oh, that moment
when sunlight intensifies
and i rush to open my window
to just let it in
Oh, cover me!
suffuse my being
pervade my cells!
through the open window,
comes a rush of very cold air
accompanying the blessed light
So, for now
I'll just sit here
and enjoy the light
from my warm
Apr 1, 2020
Mar 31, 2020
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
To the One whose Heavens
just erupted with Divine Light:
Shine down healing upon Your wearied children.
Give us illumination that we might
see each other well in this dark moment.
Mar 29, 2020
- It's been my honor to provide a daily 9am (Eastern) Meaningful Morning Live broadcast on UJA-Federation's FB page every Monday-Friday at 9am (Eastern).
- I've been offering spontaneous FacebookLive music and teachings, including this delightful one of Neshama and me singing together "in public" for the first time! Stay tuned!
- Every Wednesday at 4pm (Eastern) I'm leading a short learning and reciting Mourner's Kaddish for MyJewishLearning on their Facebook page.
- Every Friday at 2pm (Eastern), UJA-NY is convening New York Rabbis from all denominations on their FB Page to offer an Erev Shabbat blessing to our whole community. Everyone is welcome!
A Poem for my Friend on the ScreenRabbi Menachem Creditoras I sit herein my bedroomwhich has become my officeand also Sinaiand that coffee shop on Shattuckdistance is an illusionso is timethese tears are a giftof coming home.(I thought I was done, but another one poured out...)attuned heartsneed not speakto knowThere is no such thingas alone
Mar 24, 2020
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I said Kaddish this morning in a virtual minyan led by my friend, Rabbi Eytan Hammerman, my first time doing that. I had previously limited digital participation to being an observer of a minyan, saying "amen" from the distance to the "real" gathering that was physically present together. Today I typed it as a comment, a digital response as my friend recited the words on my screen.
Everything has changed. Physical presence is impossible, ritually forbidden (see Rabbi Robbie Harris' powerful piece in The Times of Israel on this), and minyan *MUST* be possible. Not only because of those who need to say kaddish, but because we need each other. Minyan is the basic grouping in Jewish tradition: community. The teachings of Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt and Rabbi Aaron Alexander come to mind: "veChai Bahem/Live through the commandments" (Lev. 18:5) means that we are called by tradition to truly live. Today. Together.
I recited Kaddish with Eytan and 16 others who appeared on my screen. (Poetically, in that moment, we were 18, the numeric equivalent of the Hebrew word "chai," meaning life.) It has been deeply emotional to see the faces of others. In my soul, it has been like seeing the face of God (Genesis 33:10), nothing less.
Being "with others" is so holy, so necessary, so important. There isn't one way to do it, but in this moment, every way that is possible should be embraced. Some will draw the line at which prayers can be said without physical proximity. But let's agree that we can - and must - come close to each other in these hard times and pray together.
Seeing you all on my screen is like seeing God's face.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Scholar in Residence, UJA-Federation NY
Mar 15, 2020
Mar 12, 2020
The learning from Thursday night is now archived! You can find it here, under "Nefesh HaChaim" (intro and 1:1,2) - rabbicreditor.blogspot.com/p/text-commentaries.html.
The text is available online at https://www.sefaria.org/Nefesh_HaChaim.1.1?lang=bi
Mar 10, 2020
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
As part of the UJA-Federation family, we are involved in each other's lives, as well as the lives of countless others in our wider community. The updates and headlines regarding the spread and impact of coronavirus are thorough and important, and it’s reassuring that we're all doing our part to keep healthy and do what we can to protect others.
The inner experience of all this is also deeply important, and it is for that reason that I share these brief thoughts. It is one thing, a primary command, to be mindful of our health and well-being. But Jewish tradition also reminds us that souls require tending, especially in moments of tension and stress.
Jewish tradition tells us that one who visits the sick removes one sixtieth of the illness. This “sacred math” makes clear that visiting the sick is not a cure but rather a comfort, not the end of disease but a way of being present in the face of human vulnerability. The connections our sacred work at UJA-Federation of New York creates are part of being present with each other, a yearlong commitment to nurture a network of relationships that keep millions of people connected, even and especially in this difficult moment.
And so my friends, let's take a lesson from the light and gladness that eventually defined the holiday of Purim. Our community was beset by threat, and emerged stronger, and then recommitted to ritually mark the day with acts of mutual concern: gifts for the poor and nourishment for neighbors.
Through these lessons, and through the availability of modern technology that transcends distance, may we remember that we can be in community without being next to each other, for now, that the ties that bind remain strong, that health is a sacred priority so that we might come together even stronger than before.
The central story of Purim is summed up by two words from the Scroll of Esther from which we read during the holiday: Nafoch Hu - It is all upside down!
In that spirit, may the interpersonal distance this topsy-turvy world we inhabit currently demands be turned on its head very, very soon, bringing us closer to each other, more caring of our neighbors, more ready to share the joy and light of life with community.
Brachot! Blessings! And a safe, happy, connected Purim to you all!
Mar 4, 2020
Rabbi David Wolpe in WashingtonPost.com: "Divorce is a death" Rabbi David Wolpe http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/...
A new Bigger on the Inside post: #Hook - "There You Are" "There you are, Peter!" Over time, our eyes can become dim. ...
I wrote this song for my daughter, born right after 9/11. This world will be built by love: ours and God's. In the best and worst of m...