Will We Listen? (Parshat Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)

By Rabbi Adina Allen

In this week’s parsha, Moses sets two paths before the Israelites as they prepare to enter the land. Introducing these two paths, Moses says, “If you listen, listen to the voice of Adonai your God” all blessings will follow, however, “if you do not listen to God’s voice” then every curse will ensue. What is the voice of God and what does it mean to listen to this voice?

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Is, Was, Will Be

By Rabbi Adina Allen

The name of God in the Jewish tradition is comprised of four Hebrew letters: yud, hey, vav hey. Unpronounceable, this grouping of letters amounts to the impossible conjugation of the verb “to be” and, if it could be translated at all, it might be read as “is, was, will be.” This name contains the promise and challenge of Judaism: to engage the past in a way that welcomes the full reality of the present so that the future may be beautiful beyond our wildest imagination. Tradition gifts us many tools to navigate this path. One of the most powerful is creative reinterpretation — chidushChidush, from the Hebrew root chadash, meaning “new,” refers to an original insight on a passage of Jewish text.

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The Blossoming of the Beloved Community (Parshat Korach, Numbers 16:1-18:32)

By Rabbi Adina Allen

As this week’s parsha begins, Korach—along with 250 chieftains of the community—criticizes Moses and Aaron for devising a system of religious practice in which only a select few are designated for Divine service. Where there was once an unmediated relationship, there are now layers—both physical and metaphorical—between the majority of the people and God. “Kol ha edah kula kedoshim u’bitocham Adonai—All of the community is holy, all of them, and the Divine is within/among them,” Korach and his followers assert. “Why then do you raise yourselves above the community?”

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The Art of Liberation (Shabbat Chol haMoed Pesach, Exodus 33:12 - 34:26)

The Haggadah tells of our people’s journey from the suffering of slavery to our wild, sea-splitting-open redemption. Around the seder table last week, our observance of the holiday began with a question: “How is this night different from all other nights?: As we discuss and unfurl into our newfound freedom, our questions about the particular night of Passover blossom into new and potent questions about the days and nights that lie ahead.

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Midwifing the Future

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Shemot, holds two age-old stories side by side. They are deeply interwoven. The story of power, oppression, control and degradation on the one hand. And the story of birthing new life, fresh possibility, liberation and redemption on the other.

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Where do we go from here? Parshat Lech Lecha Post-Election

The ballots have been cast, the votes have been counted, a new president of the United States has been elected. 

Many can barely get through the day, overwhelmed by a mix of grief, terror, and regret - envisioning what this new reality will mean for the future of our country. Others believe we are now on the road to our nation finally becoming "great” once again. The bitterness of the campaign bleeds like swaths of red and blue across the electoral map making one thing clear - we are a country deeply divided. 

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Nurturing Art: The Sacred Work of Creativity (Parshat Tetzaveh Exodus 27:20-30:10)

Walk into any room of adults and tell them they are going to engage with art materials or explore a topic through creativity — immediately, most people in the room tense up. They turn to each another and say, in nervous voices and muffled tones: “I could never color inside the lines,” “I failed art in kindergarten,” “my sister got all the creative genes,” “you don’t want me touching that paint, it will be a disaster” — as they look longingly towards the door and contemplate a quick escape. Sound familiar?

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CreativityJeff Kasowitz
Inhabiting Vulnerability (Parshat Ha’azinu, Deuteronomy 32:1-52)

“You may view the land from a distance, but you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelite people” (Deuteronomy 35:52). This week’s Torah reading, Parshat Ha’azinu, ends with this devastating reminder to Moses that despite having led the people out of Egypt and through the trials and tribulations of wilderness for forty years, he will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.

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VulnerabilityJeff Kasowitz
Art as Inquiry into Jewish Text

The art and writing tasks of the Studio Process access the unlimited potential of the Creative Source. Simple engagement with drawing, painting and sculpture serve as a technology of the sacred, available to anyone at any point in life, with any level of art experience. The core Studio Process can be combined with a group or community intention to explore common issues such as our perception of others, visioning community solutions or creating community celebrations or rituals. We can explore and be guided in our personal lives as well as in our actions in the world.

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CreativityJeff Kasowitz