Inclusivity, Creativity & Shavuot

Shavuot is a holiday of radical inclusivity and creativity. On Shavuot, each and every one of us is invited into the ongoing experience of receiving and transmitting Torah. Yet, despite this exciting proposition, Shavuot can be a holiday that is difficult to connect to. Unlike Chanukah or Shabbat, there are no home practices. Unlike Pesach or Tu b’Shevat, there is no ritual meal. Unlike Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah, there is no special communal worship. Shavuot does not focus on themes of rededication, liberation or personal salvation. Instead, it is a holiday of revelation, reception and innovation. Shavuot dares each of us to ask: What is Torah? What is Torah to me? How do I receive Torah anew?

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CollaboraSTORY: Gathering the Many Parts of Ourselves

There’s a story in the Talmud about a famous rabbi who declares that no student may enter the study hall whose inside does not match their outside - in Hebrew, who are not “tocho k’varo.”

What does this mean that their inside must match their outside? To me this sounds like this rabbi is asking for there to be no discrepancy between who these students know themselves to be and who they show themselves to be. This also sounds like it requires a Jewish space in which students feel safe enough to be bold enough to be fully who they are.

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Shavuot and the Sacred Process of Becoming

In our sacred texts, God is called by many names: Tzur (Rock), Shomer(Guardian), Rechem (Womb), Melech (King), Adonai (Lord), Magen (Shield) — all our limited approximations of God’s infinite being. In the Torah, we find a moment of intimate exchange between God and Moses in which Moses asks God how he should identify God to the people.

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Jeff Kasowitz
The Vitality of Feeling: Teshuva in a Broken World - Rabbi Adina's Yom Kippur Drash

How do we deal with wrongs committed against those whom we don’t know personally, whom we can’t - and should not - seek out for forgiveness, but whose suffering we’ve witnessed and and in some way contributed to either directly or indirectly through the strands that weave us together in this inescapable web of interconnection?

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What childbirth teaches us about counting the Omer

By Rabbi Adina Allen
Passover marks the birth of our liberation, Shavuot, its culmination. Our counting focuses our attention on the importance of the days in between. What would it mean for us to take that which we birthed in the process of liberation at Passover as seriously as the yoledet takes her tasks?

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The Holiness of Purim Lies in Glitz, Glam and Color

By Rabbi Adina Allen

“Holy holy holy is the Lord of hosts!” Chanting these words in the Kedushah, we stand, feet together, mimicking the angles on high. As we press up onto our toes, yearning for that Divine connection, we take on the posture of these pure, ethereal beings without physical characteristics that exist only in spirit.

Our conception of holiness often follows on this track, conjuring images of those things pure, simple, beyond the mundanity of the physical world. Our most sacred holiday is often considered to be Yom Kippur — a day on which we wear a plain white ceremonial robe known as a kittel — and which we prepare for by dunking in the mikvah, ritual bathing that requires us to peel away all outer layers (clothes, makeup, jewelry) so as to enter the waters as unadorned as the day we were born.

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Dreaming the World into Being - Parshat Miketz

By Rabbi Adina Allen

Sleep is the place of nightmares. It also the realm of dreams.  According to the Talmud, dreams are one sixtieth of prophecy (Berachot 57b). Maimonides, in his Guide for the Perplexed, writes that through dreams the imaginative faculty is awakened, without which prophecy is impossible (3.36-8).

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