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Israeli Memorial/Independence Days 

May 1, 2024

May1

Rabbi Nathan Martin

In the Israeli calendar Israeli Memorial Day and Independence Day are consecutive commemorations. This year they fall on May 13 and May 14 respectively. This is not accidental. The cost of Israeli lives in its struggle for independence in 1948, about 1% of its population at the time, linked the loss and celebration, each as inextricable pieces of a whole. Much like any Jewish ceremony ‐ like breaking a glass at a wedding ‐ it is often our...Read more...

Rabbi Ellen Bernstein's Nirtzah

April 1, 2024

Apr1

Rabbi Nathan Martin

We end our Passover Seders this month at "Nirzah/The concluding step" with a wish of L'shana Haba'ah biyerushalayim (Next year in Jerusalem). In that spirit I share Rabbi Ellen's Bernstein's Nirtzah which connects to the root Shalem ‐ in Jersualem ‐ to Shalom, to peace:

We pray that Jerusalem ‐‐ the spiritual center for three great traditions ‐‐experiences the peace that its name promises. We pray that all people...Read more...

Creating Holy Community

March 1, 2024

Mar1

Rabbi Nathan Martin

After the dramatic story of the Exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai, the Torah portions in the latter part of the book of Exodus cover a tremendous amount of details concerning the material requirements for designing and building the desert Tabernacle, the mobile sanctuary that accompanied the Israelites on their wilderness journeys.

One of the takeaways from this description is simply the...Read more...

"Winter Trees"

February 1, 2024

Feb1

Rabbi Nathan Martin

Friends, as we find ourselves wintering down, I am reminded of William Carlos Williams poem, Winter Trees.

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

May we, in this moment between...Read more...

Finding Our Spiritual Center

January 1, 2024

Jan1

Rabbi Nathan Martin

Friends, we begin January by also beginning the book of Exodus, the core story of liberation that animates us as a Jewish people. It is a story we refer to every day in our daily prayer when we sing the “Mi Kamocha.”

As we cope with the Hamas attack of October 7, and the ensuing Gaza war and its repercussions around the world, I have been wondering about what the spiritual teachings are that we can glean from our liberation story...Read more...

"An Evening Prayer in Times of Conflict" by Jacqueline Goldfinger

December 5, 2023

Dec5

Rabbi Nathan Martin

Friends, we continue to direct our thoughts and prayers to Israel at this time. I share a brief excerpt from "An Evening Prayer in Times of Conflict" by Jacqueline Goldfinger.

Praise be to you, Adonai,
Ruler of the Universe, from the tallest mountain to the deepest valley, from my weeping heart to my clenched fist.

Your Greatness can hold all of my anger and despair as it can hold all of my hope and joy.
Your Unifying...Read more...

Pirkei Avot

October 30, 2023

Oct30

Rabbi Nathan Martin

Dear Friends,

Like many of you I have been heartbroken of the horrific murders carried out by Hamas militants against Israelis, the taking of hostages, and also the loss of civilian lives in Gaza during this conflict. Know that we are with you and we do our best to hold and grieve the loss together and also pray for a quick resolution to this conflict with a minimum of loss of life.

As American Jews, we are deeply affected by...Read more...

Facing the Future Together

September 1, 2023

Sep1

Rabbi Nathan Martin

How might we use some of our time on this holy day of Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah, and during the upcoming 10 days of repentance to face this moment of significant climate crisis? What texts and practices might speak to us?

First, the mishnah describes Rosh Hashanah as a moment when “all creatures pass before the Divine like sheep [benei maron].” What if the metaphor of creatures passing before the divine was more like an...Read more...

A Seder for the New Year?

August 23, 2023

Aug23

Rabbi Nathan Martin

There is an interesting energy around the observance of Rosh Hashanah. One the one hand this is clearly a moment of solemnity, of “Yom Ha-Din,” the Day of Judgment, where we find ourselves at the beginning of the aseret yemei teshuva, the ten days of repentance, when we recommit to the work of healing rifts in our relationships and becoming our better selves.

Relatedly, Rosh Hashanah, is also historically understood as a divine...Read more...

Retelling our Liberation Story

April 2, 2023

Apr2

Rabbi Nathan Martin

In the midst of the narrative of the ten plagues the Torah takes an interesting pause to describe in detail the prepara­tions and celebration of the Passover holiday. The Torah even imagines at the moment a time when the need to re-tell the story will be inevitable, “And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this rite?’ you shall say, ‘It is the passover sac­ri.ce to YHVH who passed over the houses of the Israelites in...Read more...

Mon, May 27 2024 19 Iyyar 5784