Last Shabbat, Jewish communities everywhere read Parashat Yitro, which tells the story of the giving of the Ten Commandments and describes revelation at Sinai, a peak moment of closeness between the Israelites and God.
Last Shabbat, Jewish communities everywhere read Parashat Yitro, which tells the story of the giving of the Ten Commandments and describes revelation at Sinai, a peak moment of closeness between the Israelites and God. Here in our Kavana community, this revelatory moment continued to reverberate at our Winter Spirituality Retreat, held at Camp Kalsman! One participant described it as a "wonderful weekend full of intentional movement of mind, body and heart," and another called it "a joyful and truly generative experience." Special thanks to retreat leaders Stacy Lawson, Julie Kohl, Nicki Sadow-Hasenberg, to staff leaders Rabbi Josh Weisman and Traci Marx, and to all of the participants who made this experience what it was... a peak spiritual experience, and perhaps a small taste of thetranscendental moment of Sinai!
Of course, no retreat can last forever, nor could the Israelites remain at the mountain forever.
This coming week, the Torah pivots into Parashat Mishpatim, a Torah portion chock full of detailed laws. Most of these deal with "mitzvot bein adam l'chaveiro"... that is, thecommandments that govern human relationships. While many are seemingly quite mundane and even technical, these laws serve as the building blocks of society, as "Torah" (in its highest sense) manifests in the everyday.
Similarly, here at Kavana, we return to our "regularly scheduled program" this week -- all sorts of experiences designed to help our community members learn and grow, navigate life decisions, and find holiness in each and every week. You're invited to join us for any events below that catch your eye, of course, but in particular, we want to highlight two:
a) the musical Shabbat service scheduled for this Friday night -- a great way to end your work week with a taste of the transcendent,
b) the End of Life and Advance Care workshop on Feb 10th. We're creating a safe space for important but hard conversations, and hope you will join us. Making decisions around your wishes is truly the best gift you can give to your loved ones!
As we "come down from the mountain" and move into the rhythms of life's continued journey, we look forward to seeing you and being in community with you.
In weeks like this one, with the climate crisis and political crises in full view, I struggle with the question of agency. Do I have any power at all to effect change? If I cannot control the "big" things that are happening in real time all around me, do my actions matter? It's easy to become dispirited and believe that we don't have much power.
A few weeks ago, Noam and I decided to introduce our kids to the movie Fiddler on the Roof. They were excited to sing along to some already-familiar songs like "Matchmaker" and "Tradition," and thought the wedding scene was beautiful. However, I had forgotten just how dark the end of the movie is. As we watched the Jews being expelled from their village of Anatevka, trudging down the road together, and pausing at the crossroads before going their own separate ways, my 10-year-old asked whether something like that could ever happen to us here in America.
Close your eyes and imagine: a hot bowl of soup simmering on the stove, crisp latkes frying in a pan, or a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate. Can you almost smell it?! As the weather gets colder and the days darker, it's human nature to turn to "comfort foods" for warmth, satisfaction, nourishment and, well, comfort.