Human Rights Shabbat

The Little Minyan Kehilla will observe Human Rights Shabbat by welcoming Shabbat on on Friday, December 12th, 7:30 p.m. and drawing on liturgy, song, silence, and text
oilchanukiahstudy to illuminate the ways in which we can rededicate ourselves to our Jewish and American and human values of ensuring dignity for ALL people.  As we will soon increase light in the darkness with the celebration of Chanukah (which means rededication), Human Rights Shabbat helps us to give purpose and strength to that light.

For many years, The Little Minyan has join T’ruah – the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, jewish justiceand congregations around the world in celebrating Human Rights Shabbat which commemorates the signing of Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948, a modern-day prophetic text.  This year, the materials from T’ruah include a number of stories to inspire us, teach us, and hold up mirrors in which we see our own lives reflected. T’ruah also invites us and to submit the stories of our heroes on their website. These heroes can be historical figures or people in our own community or our families.

In honor of the seventh year of Human Rights Shabbat, a yom tov for human rights, our Little Minyan will join nearly 200 communities around the world to judaism and environmentlearn about the Jewish roots of human rights, as we pledge to manifest in our world the values of k’vod habriot (human dignity) and tzelem elohim (our creation in the likeness of and with elements of the Divine).  Seven in Judaism represents the completion of a cycle. This year also coincides with a shmita, or sabbatical, year. Thus, in addition to a text study that looks closely at the linkages between Shabbat and human rights, T’ruah and the Shmita Project of Hazon, which is encouraging Jews to reimagine the ancient practice of letting the land lie fallow every seven years, have provided materials that allow us to look at environmental justice – also a human rights issue.

Our service will be held in our worship space at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Upper Arlington.

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SOUPer Shabbat – Friday, Dec. 5/Kislev 14

As the weather turns cold and we move toward the darkest days of the year, it is time for SOUPer Shabbat season at The Little Minyan Kehilla.  Join us in creating warmth, light, and Shabbat joy THIS EREV SHABBAT.

soup and will gather around a Teva Travelers Shabbat craft activity around 5:45 and then Shabbat blessings, led by our kids, and a warm and tasty dinner around 6 p.m.  Several of our LM families will provide the soups, drinks, and challah. Please bring your families and a dish to share (enough for at least 6-8 hungry people).  Appetizers, side dishes, desserts or other family favorites make this a delightful event. No meat dishes please.

At 7 pm we will begin our Shabbat evening service, led, in large part, by our Mini Minyan students. Our service will include the signing (as in ASL) of Little Minyan Kehilla LogoSh’ma and a play presenting this week’s parsha/Torah portion, Vayishlach. And, of course, there will be lots of singing! This is a kid- AND adult-friendly service so even if you don’t have wee ones, your participation is so important in creating intergenerational learning, appreciation, and Shabbat joy.

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FOOD CHAIN$ Documentary in Preparation for Human Rights Shabbat

DSC_0079Several years ago, Spiritual Leader Jessica Shimberg traveled to Immokalee, Florida, with a group of rabbis organized by T’ruah, the rabbinic call for human rights.  Each year, T’ruah bring together Jewish spiritual leaders with farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to learn about the very recent human Denver_Day_of_Dead_2_web-150x150rights abuses in the fields where our food is grown and harvested before traveling to our grocery stores and eventually to our plates.  The food justice passions ignited by this experience simmer with the values of Torah and the result is education and advocacy in pursuit humane working conditions and fair wages.

Columbus has been a key focus of the food justice efforts of CIW and allies because it is home to the corporate headquarters of Wendy’s – the only major fast food corporation to refuse to participate in the Fair Food Program.  CIW has received national and international attention and awards for the quality of their work and the results they have achieved through grassroots organizing. The recently released Food_Chains_Poster-150x150film, FOOD CHAIN$, is a documentary about our food, where it comes from, and who is paying the price.  The film, produced by actress Eva Longoria and author Eric Schlosser, among others, premieres in Ohio this Thursday, Dec. 4th, at the Gateway Film Center at 8 p.m.  The film’s director, Sanjay Rawal, and members of CIW will speak immediately after the screening.

Last year, the Little Minyan hosted members of CIW as part of our Human Rights Shabbat (a program initiated by T’ruah).  This year, the Little Minyan will join with congregations across the country in observing Human Rights Shabbat on December 12th at our Erev Shabbat Service, 7:30 p.m..

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A Prayer for Hope in Darkness

We spend a lot of time in our kehilla learning about, feeling, discussing, experiencing, experimenting with, thinking through, leaning into, and practicing prayer. Some of us love it, some of us aren’t so wild about it, and a lot of us are not entirely sure.  Some of us express our Jewish values through means we might not identify as “prayer.”  [Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously said that when he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he was praying with his feet.]  And some of us access and express the depth of our Jewish voice, our human yearnings, the values and ideals we hold dear, through the accumulated liturgy of our People.

Regardless of how we experience prayer, there is a pervasive notion throughout the world that prayer is a sacred act. Even if we do not experience it this way, there is a shared human sense that when we see someone praying, we do not interrupt that moment of holy connection. Whether we understand or agree with or find meaning in the language of prayer, there is a general sense of courtesy, if not respect, for the sanctity of another’s prayer, prayer-time, and prayer-space. When, as today at a synagogue in Jerusalem, this sanctity is shattered, our collective human prayer is profoundly shaken.

The editorial board of The New York Times wrote today:

The horrific episode is a tragedy for the families of the worshipers who were attacked. … it is also a tragedy for all Israelis and Palestinians. The two communities appeared increasingly locked in a cycle of hatred and hopelessness, where chances for stability, much less permanent peace, seem nearly impossible.

It is at moments like this – dark and bleak and hopeless – that we can blame religion for the world’s conflicts and the rising malevolence. OR, especially at moments like this, we can utilize prayer to fuel our hope, to lift our hearts, to comfort, and to inspire. Those who went to pray Shacharit/the morning prayers at Kehilat Bnei Torah in Jerusalem on Tuesday, rose for the silent Amidah, the personal conversation with the Holy Blessed One at the heart of our daily worship. They were engaging in prayers of hope when they were massacred by hatred.

It seems appropriate to honor their memories with prayers of hope – hope that all can expand our hearts, hope that all can imbue our thoughts, speech and actions with love, and profound hope for peace – for us, for our children, for everyone’s children.

Keyn yehi ratzon. May it be so.

A reflection on this day by Jessica K. Shimberg, Spiritual Leader of The Little Minyan Kehilla. May their memories be for a blessing.

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Shabbat Vayinafash ~ Contemplative Shabbat Morning, Nov. 8th

How are you replenishing the creative force within you these days?  A walk in the crisp autumn air? Listening to stirring music? Meditation?  How about a contemplative Shavat Vayinafash service with the Little Minyan this Shabbat morning, November 8/15 Chesvan at 10:30 a.m. at the home of Jessica Shimberg.

shabbat shalom

The Yamim Nora’im, Sukkot and Simchat Torah have passed and we are well into the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, empty of hagim/holidays.  Yet, as even the youngest of our Mini Minyan kids remind me every time we discuss Jewish holidays, the most important of our holy days is the one we are given each week – Shabbat!

In Shmot/Exodus 31:16-17 we first read the words that have become familiar to us in liturgy and song – V’shamru b’nei Yisrael et haShabbat … Shavat vayinafash.  We are instructed to keep and observe Shabbat throughout the generations as a continuing covenant, a sign forever, between us and the One we most simply call God.  Why?  Because creation – doing, making, working, producing – occurred for six days and on the seventh day, on Shabbat, God “vayinafash.”  This word is often translated as “rested,” but if we look at the Hebrew root we find the word Nefesh, which means soul, breath or life-force.  As Rashi says in his commentary on this passage, “God restored God’s own soul and breath by taking a calming break from the burden of the labor.”

Our tradition gives us many instructions about how to observe and keep and remember Shabbat, and even if we only do one of these on a given Shabbat, “vayinafash” seems essential.  How will you re-ensoul yourself this Shabbat?

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S’more Sukkot Celebration

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On behalf of the The Little Minyan Kehilla, an invitation from Randi and Bill Cohen: We’d love to have you join us for a good and meaningful time as we celebrate Sukkot – Saturday October 11th, 4:30 to 9:00 at … Continue reading

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Yamim Nora’im ~ Days of Awe and Beyond with the Little Minyan Kehilla

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You don’t need a ticket, an invitation, or even clarity of purpose … Just join us and take it from there!  Click here for our Days of Awe Schedule of event descriptions, times, and locations.  If you would like to … Continue reading

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S’lichot 5774 – Turning in Earnest Toward the Days of Awe

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“S’lichot” refers to additional liturgy requesting forgiveness and compassion which ushers us into the Yamim Nora’im ~ the Days of Awe from Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). In Ashkenazi (Eastern European) tradition, these … Continue reading

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The Little Minyan Kehilla’s Mini Minyan Open House – Sunday!

Join The Little Minyan Kehilla on Sunday, August 24th,  2 to 4 pm, for our

Mini Minyan Open House

Little Minyan Kehilla LogoOver the Fence Urban Farm, 151 East Dominion Blvd. North Clintonville 43214

(Don’t miss an intergenerational activity at 2:30)

Mini Minyan is the Little Minyan’s interactive, nature-based, and Judaically meaningful youth education program for learners pre-K through teen.

Accepting enrollment now for weekly programming beginning in October 2014.

For more information, follow this link to our Mini Minyan page.

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Teach Us to Treasure Each Day ~ Limnot Yameinu ~ In Deep Appreciation of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l

Here in central Ohio, we are in the midst of unseasonably mild and gloriously sunny days, further blessed by low humidity and gentle breezes.  I am humming a new* tune that Rabbi (and gifted cellist, I am compelled to add) Yitz Husbands-Hankin created to hold the ancient words of Psalm 90:2 – “teach us to treasure each day, that we may open teachusfeinbergour hearts to Your wisdom.”  I am aware of the treasure that is THIS day – an “ordinary” Thursday in July.

As an emerging rabbi and spiritual leader, it is my way and holy work to treasure each day with sensitivity to the Judaic rhythms of life and time. There are myriad sacred vessels to be found in our liturgy, Torah, rabbinic and modern writings, traditional and creative Jewish ritual.  It is through this lens that I choose to view the interplay of humanity, the earth and her non-human inhabitants, and the Divine Mystery some of us call God.

With a full cup, inspired and engaged, I have just returned to Columbus and our Little Minyan Kehilla from the Pacific Northwest and the deep well of inspiration and energy photofound in time with my ALEPH (Alliance for Jewish Renewal) teachers and colleagues.  In that container of sacred community, among the tall trees, babbling rivers, soaring birds, and myriad dragonflies, we received word that our beloved Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi had taken his last breath in this world.  Although his health had been declining as he neared his 90th birthday, Reb Zalman’s presence was enormous, potent, KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAand enduring.  The thought of a world without his continuing insight and wisdom was and remains unfathomable to many. It was an abundant blessing (not lost on us) that he left us at one of the all-too-rare times when so many of those carrying forward his legacy were together in one place.  Our holy teachers – long-time students and friends of Reb Zalman, continued to teach and enrich us even as they began their mourning at a disconcerting distance from the levaya (funeral) and shiva minyans in Boulder, Colorado. Although Reb Zalman’s death is a painful reality, there is a vitality that remains to continue to renew Judaism – raising holy sparks and nourishment from the deep and meaningful well of Jewish tradition while nurturing experiential, egalitarian, environmentally-conscious, ecstatic, engaging, and non-hierarchical approaches to prayer.

The Little Minyan will continue to honor Reb Zalman, z”l, and his gifts to the world through our approaches to worship, eco-conscious practices and activities, social justice, study, and interfaith collaborations and inter-being.  One of Reb Zalman’s great gifts to the world was his love-affair with Judaism and his appreciation for all faith and wisdom traditions.  He didn’t believe that anyone has what he called “the exclusive franchise on the truth.”  “What we Jews have,” he continued, “is a good approximation, for Jews, of how to get there. Ultimately, each person creates a way that fits his own situation.”  What a shining example he was of “how to get there.” May Reb Zalman’s name always be for blessing and may his work continue to inspire Jews and other to connect, find meaning, care for the earth, create peace, and treasure each day.

Our Little Minyan will meet for Shavat Vayinafash - contemplative worship on Shabbat morning, July 19th, 10:30 a.m. in our space at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 2070 Ridgecliff Road, Upper Arlington

*New to me, thanks to a rich learning intensive creating and leading Jewish funerals with Rabbi Marcia Prager and Hazzan Jack Kessler and other ALEPH rabbinic and cantorial students.

Jessica K. Shimberg, an emerging rabbi and long-time central Ohioan, is one of Reb Zalman’s many devoted students and a life-long learning and appreciator of the deep sustenance of all-streams of Judaism.  She is a founder of The Little Minyan and serves as spiritual leader of our Kehilla.

Artwork – Linda Feinberg from; Trees photographed at Canby Grove Retreat Center. Photo of Reb Zalman, z”l, from the ALEPH website.

z”l stands for zichrono livracha which means “may his name be for blessing” and is commonly written after the name of one who has died. Honorific appreciations for beloved teachers are also very common after the teacher’s name is written in Jewish texts.

Posted in Eco-Judaism, Lifecycle Ritual, Liturgy, Reb Zalman, Shabbat, Spiritual Seeking, Torah | Leave a comment