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Greetings!

 

 

Lisa Goldstein

 

Passover comes to remind us once again that liberation is indeed possible, but it is so easy to miss the message in our stress-filled labors of kashering the house, cooking the meals, creating an engaging seder experience, entertaining the guests, cleaning everything up.  

 

We hope that these teachings and resources will inspire you to stop, take a breath, really taste the matzah, maror and wine and tell the stories that really matter - the stories of our souls that tell us that things can in fact be different and better than they are now.

Wishing you a sweet and inspiring Pesach, 

 

Lisa  

 
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Nancy Flam
"Awareness itself was in exile."

 

The Me'or Eynayim understood that at the heart of the liberation from Mitzrayim was the liberation of da'at, or awareness. 

 

Awareness itself was in exile.

 

Awareness moved within and among us only in a constricted state, as a constricted flow or sea (Meytzar Yam).  In Egypt, we were only dimly aware of the divine in all moments, the oneness of creation, its nearly unfathomable interconnectivity.  

 

Once liberated from Mitzrayim, our awareness broadened into its liberated potential, rising up and expanding.  Only then we were able to serve God fully.

 

What might a liberated, broadened awareness actually be able to hold, to grow intimate with (as the meaning of da'at suggests), to meet without ducking (in the wonderfully concrete imagery of our teacher, Sylvia Boorstein)?  It seems to me that a truly expansive awareness would be so stable and so flexible that it would be able to be awake, present and near to all of human experience, the deeply joyful as well as the truly and terribly painful.  It is this strength and fullness of awareness that we seek to liberate, and that the festival of Passover reminds us to continue to practice toward attaining, moment by moment.


And it is here where the meaning of the final instruction after the Haggadah's elaborate telling of our history of enslavement and liberation takes on its deepest meaning for me:  "In every generation we are obligated to see ourselves as if we ourselves had left Egypt."  

 

The radical empathy and identification that is called for as we read ourselves into the JEWISH STORY OF THE PAST is the very radical empathy and identification that is called for as we read ourselves into the STORY OF ALL PEOPLE NOW.  

 

To know God, to experience awareness that is liberated is to discover that the fabric of creation is woven as a unified whole, or, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "...that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny."  

In this way, the dedication we make toward strengthening and increasing awareness through spiritual practice enables us to see the truth of interconnection and increase our capacity to be present not only to what is joyous but also to the ongoing human experiences of suffering, cruelty, violence, oppression and injustice that are taking place right here, right now (in our own generation), and to act day by day, moment by moment with as much clarity, compassion, wisdom and dedication as we can cultivate.  

 

In the face of what is overwhelming, we resist becoming overwhelmed.  Or as Pirkei Avot teaches, we are not obligated to finish the task; neither are we free to desist from it.  Pesah gives us a glimpse of the great day, that imagined final redemption toward which all our avodah is devoted.

 

With love and gratitude for our communities of practice, and with wishes for a Chag Sameach,

 
Nancy 
 
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We are grateful for two amazing March retreats

 

We're so happy to welcome home everyone from the second cohort of Kivvun from their first retreat together! We had a beautiful week in Brandeis Bardin California. Everybody has reported amazing experiences from the early effects of a beginning meditation practice on their communications with their families to the joy of finding the company of fellow seekers and spiritual companions.  

 

And the first retreat of our second cohort of the Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training was a great success!  A diverse group of rabbis, cantors and lay people from across North America (and from as far away as New Zealand!) came to the Garrison Institute on the Hudson River to begin a three-retreat training program in growing as teachers and practitioners of Jewish Mindfulness meditation.  
 
After a week spent primarily silent in the practice of sitting and walking meditation--in addition to soulful davvening and inspiring yoga--the group left feeling truly like a community of practitioners.  We are all excited to be entering the first interim period of learning and practice together as a community.
 
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Summer 2012 Retreats
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 Trinity Retreat & Conference Center
West Cornwall, CT 

 

Open Retreat
Hoda'ah/Gratitude 
 7.5-7.8.12
layretreatjuly2012

 

Silent Shabbaton
Hearing the Still, Small Voice
7.13-7.15.12
silentjuly2012

 

Hevraya  
(professional alumni) 
7.15-7.19.12
 hevrayajuly2012 
  

 
 
 
Telling Our Story:

 

"But to get there, I have to let my guard down.  In order to be truly grateful for when and where I am, I must swim through time and encounter the moments - both frightening and elevating - that got me here.

 

May this Pesach find us surprised by at least one new smell, one new sound, one word of purpose, a hint of a free, redeemed world. Who knows? Perhaps this is the year Elijah and Miriam will be waiting when we open the door. Let's do our best to sing that dream into reality."

 

[Rabbi Menachem Creditor's blog]


 
 
 
Related Resources

We hope you may find some of these resources useful in your practice: 

Pesah Video Teaching

Taking the Lamb:  A Pre-Passover Ritual Re-imagined 

You Were Strangers: The Ethical Significance of Passover

Wellsprings of Freedom: The Renew Our Days Haggadah

 

Bedikat Chametz in Our Homes and in Our Relationships [Rabbi Goldie Milgram]

 

A Poet's Seder: Experience Passover Through the Eyes of Poets

[Poet's Seder


 
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