Let My People Go! The Dark Side of Chocolate

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED … IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN RECEIVING INFORMATION ABOUT THE EVENT WHEN RESCHEDULED, PLEASE CONTACT US AT littleminyan@littleminyan.org

During Passover, we retell the biblical story of our liberation from slavery. So central to Judaism is this theme of exodus from slavery and journey toward freedom that it is part of our daily liturgy, the predominant narrative of Torah (told through all but Genesis), and the purpose of the Haggadah (Hebrew for “the telling”). And essential to the ritual telling of our People’s story at our passover-1Passover seder each year, is the way in which we situate ourselves within this narrative. Torah tells us to share this story with our children as if it were happening to us at this very moment (“… it is because of what God did for me when I came forth from from Egypt.” Exodus 13:8).

For too many children, slavery is not as remote as a biblical narrative, oChild-Labor-Make-Chocolate-Fairr even as distant as American history. The documentary film, The Dark Side of Chocolate, investigates the slavery, trafficking and dangerous conditions that persist for the thousands of children who work in the cacao fields of West Africa that supply many of the major companies producing the chocolate we consume.

With materials from Fair Trade Judaica, the Little Minyan Kehilla will gather during Pesach, on Thursday, April 28th, 7:00 p.m. (location to be announced) to experience the film together and engage in a bit of study and activism. We will sweeten the evening with a sampling of fair trade chocolate. Please let us know if you intend to participate by calling 614-459-9593 or sending a quick email to littleminyan@littleminyan.org so that we can plan appropriately; however, if you happen to learn of this opportunity at the last minute, don’t let your failure to RSVP stop you from showing up. There is always room at the table …slaverys_bitter

Posted in Calendar, Eco-Judaism, Hagim/Holidays, Holiday Celebrations, Spiritual Seeking, Tikkun Olam, Torah | Leave a comment

Preparing for Passover ~ Shabbat HaGadol

Join our kehilla this Shabbat/Saturday morning, April 16th, when we will gather for Shabbat Vayinafash, a contemplative approach to Shabbat morning worship and Torah. We will meet from 10:30 a.m. to noon in our worship space at Covenant zen shabbatPresbyterian Church.

Join Spiritual Leader Jessica Shimberg for an easy flow of Shabbat chant, liturgy, movement and holy conversation around preparing for the journey from Passover to Shavuot.

You may wish to bring your own chumash. Comfortable attire encouraged, and, if you wish to sit on the floor, a mat, zafu, pillow or blanket. A light lunch will follow our worship.

Posted in Calendar, Shabbat, Spiritual Seeking, Torah | Leave a comment

Eco-Kashrut, Wellness, and Ritual ~ A 21st Century Perspective on Parshat Shemini

The ritual sacrlambifice chronicled in the book of Leviticus/Vayikra could turn many of us (so removed from the meat that magically appears on our tables) into vegetarians, especially if we were to construct in our minds a big-screen, motion picture (a la Charleton Heston, perhaps?) of the animal sacrifices described in vivid detail. For many, the entire book of Leviticus is so difficult to digest (pun intended) that my seminary offers a class entitled Learning to Love Leviticus, taught by the extremely talented Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan Kaplan. And yes, I did learn to; and yes, I still struggle with a great deal of this text. How wonderfully synchronous that when I was asked to guest lecture for a course entitled “Religion and Environmental Values in America,” the requested topic was Food and Faith and the week of the lecture just happened to be Parshat Shemini! “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous,” is one of my favorite quotes attributed to Albert Einstein.

In enumerating the mitzvot that create the basis for the laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), one can get a bit lost in the animal sacrifice. However, Rabbi Arthur Waskow explains it this way: 

How did biblical Jews get in touch with God? By eating and choosing what to eat. Not by murmuring prayer; when Hannah did that (I Samuel 1:13), the priest thought she was drunk. Why by eating? Because in the deepest origins of Jewish life, the most sacred relationship was the relationship with the earth. For shepherds, farmers, shmitaorchard-keepers, food was the nexus between adamah, the earth, and its closest relative, adam, the human. So ancient Jews got in touch with God by bringing food to the Temple. With our bodies we affirmed, “This food comes from a Unity of which we also are a part: from earth, rain, sun, seed, and our own work. It came from the Unity of Life; so we give back some of it to that great Unity.”

In addition to establishing our relationship with the Earth, Genesis notes repeatedly that we are created b’tzelem Elohim/in God’s image. Even one who rejects biblical accounts of creation in favor of scientific evidence of our evolution appreciates the miraculous and complex nature of the human body. Whether we focus on maintaining health and wellbeing from a purely practical perspective, as a physical fitness enthusiast, or as one who believes the body is a sacred vessel housing our spiritual essence, caring for our bodies is a responsibility to be taken seriously. Thus, making careful selections about how we fuel our bodies is a principle we can all swallow, whether or not we observe kashrut. 

Regardless of our relationship with Jewish dietary laws, we feel our best, physically, when we health vs. fastare making healthy choices about what we select to fuel our bodies, including how and where our food was grown and how it came to our tables. We further consider whether our water comes from a plastic bottle or a recyclable one, and how a restaurant treats the people who work there or who harvest the tomatoes on its hamburgers. In many ways, the laws of kashrut are about delineating among food sources – making careful selections about what food we place into our bodies. In some ways, it could be likened to selecting organic, locally grown, carefully prepared foods rather than highly-processed fast food.

The eco-kashrut movement birthed and fostered by Reb Zalman, z”l, and sustained by other prominent Jewish leaders and grassroots activists, is addressing modern environmental, social, and ethical issues around food growth, sourcing, and consumptionJodiK.overthefence as well as sustainability. This level of care and attention to our food, its preparation and consumption has always been a guiding principle of the Little Minyan Kehilla. Whether in the way we approach a potluck or oneg Shabbat or in celebrating the work of our members and like-minded organizations*, our kehilla vibrantly lives our Jewish values through our commitment to the Earth’s health and sustainability.

The biblical commandments at the root of kashrut were designed to remind the People that all life is sacred and to help the People feel close to the Divine. In limiting consumption of mammals to three species – cattle, sheep, and goats – perhaps these laws were conceived to reduce the amount of meat we eat and encourage a healthier diet that included more fruits and vegetables – a diet that our modern doctors encourage. Although prayer replaced animal sacrifice, we still can choose to use our food and consumption rasberriespractices in a ritual manner. Every meal, even a snack, has the potential to be a sacred ritual, appreciating the Source of bounty, acknowledging those involved (in planting, raising, harvesting, slaughtering, packaging, transporting and preparing our food), and requesting continued blessing for wellness.*

*this is a shout-out to so many of our members whose work and ways of living place environmental consciousness and sustainable eating practices at the fore. Special kavod/honor to Little Minyanites Jodi Kushins for her energy and efforts (overthefenceurbanfarm.com), and Michelle Moskowitz-Brown (localmatters.org)

* A beautiful setting of praise and appreciation by Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel can be found here along with other selections for blessing offered by Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center and Hazon.

Posted in Eco-Judaism, Parshat, Reb Zalman, Spiritual Seeking, Tikkun Olam, Torah | Leave a comment

Shabbat Vayinafash ~ EnSOULing Ourselves, Observing Shabbat

A reminder to join our kehilla this Shabbat/Saturday morning, March 19th, when we will gather for Shabbat Vayinafash, a contemplative approach to Shabbat morning worship and Torah. We will meet from 10:30 a.m. to noon in our worship space at Covenant Presbyterian Church. … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

Shabbat Vayinafash – Re-Ensouling Ourselves as We Enter Shabbat’s Sanctuary

A reminder to join our kehilla this Shabbat/Saturday morning, February 20th, when we will gather for Shabbat Vayinafash, a contemplative approach to Shabbat morning worship and Torah. We will meet from 10:30 a.m. to noon in our worship space at Covenant Presbyterian Church. … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

Mini Minyan’s March Mitzvah Month ~ NOT Just for the Kids!!

Mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) are commandments. Traditionally, we talk about mitzvot as the commandments in Torah ~ 613 in number and some, relating to notions that many 21st century Jews would suggest are archaic and irrelevant today.  But when you talk about “doing a mitzvah,” most of us will say it is the opportunity to do something kind, just, tikkunolamlogocolor-2addressing the greater good. This is something we aspire to do daily, even multiple times a day. Mitzvot give meaning and depth to our lives. Following our inclination for good leads to tikkun olam/repairing the world. This essential part of being Jewish and living Jewishly is a key component of educating our children – by example as well as through our Mini Minyan Youth Education Program.

Our parents have created another exciting Mitzvah Month of programming (special kavod/honor to Emia Oppenheim, Emma Loss, Paul Eisenstein, and Jodi Kushins). Please join our Mini Minyan families and other members of Little Minyan Kehilla for any of the following activities. 

March 6 from 1-3pm: The Humane Society of Delaware County, 4920 State Route 37, East, Delaware, OH 43015  – At HSDC, we will start with a short, informative program for the kids and brief tour of the building.  We will then divide into three smaller groups and take turns rotating between the kitten room, the cat room, and the dog area.  Our job kid and puppyhere is to pet and play with the animals to help them feel safe and loved while they are waiting to be adopted–you can even read to them (books available at the shelter).  Please bring an item to donate from the shelter “Wish List” at http://www.hsdcohio.org/#!wish-list/chih.

March 13 from 10am-Noon: Clintonville Resource Center, 14 W. Lakeview Ave., Columbus, OH 43202 – At CRC, we will be helping with their breakfast service and clean-up, and we will also tour the facility.

March 20 from 11am-1pm: Canine Collective, 11144 US 42 North, Plain City OH 43064 – At Canine Collective, we will learn about their dog rescue and then help them with a few of their daily dog care tasks, such as sorting leashes and collars, stuffing Kong toys, laundry, and walking and playing with some of the dogs.  For this event, we are asked to bring several paper towel rolls to donate.  Also, plan to pack a lunch and we can all have lunch together afterwards.

March 27 from 10am-Noon: Glen Echo Ravine, 510 Cliffside Dr., Columbus, OH 43202 – At Glen Echo Ravine, we will clean up the pathways and creekbed.  Please bring at least 2 garbage bags and gloves.  Rainboots and “grub” clothing you don’t care about are recommended.  We will meet by the stairs to the Ravine on glenechoravinethe east side of the park.  The stairs are off of Indianola on the eastern side of the road between Glen Echo Drive and Olentangy Street.

Questions?  Please contact Emma at eploss88@gmail.com or 614-804-5508 (cell)

 

Posted in Eco-Judaism, Family, Mini Minyan, Pirkei Avot, Tikkun Olam, Torah | Leave a comment

Shabbat Vayinafash ~ Relax into Shabbat Yitro with The Little Minyan Kehilla

A reminder to join our kehilla this Shabbat/Saturday morning, January 30th, when we will gather for Shabbat Vayinafash, a contemplative approach to Shabbat morning worship and Torah. We will meet from 10:30 a.m. to noon in our worship space at Covenant zen shabbatPresbyterian Church.

Join Spiritual Leader Jessica Shimberg for an easy flow of Shabbat chant, liturgy, movement and holy conversation around themes from this week’s Parsha/Torah portion Yitro (Shmot/Exodus 18:1 – 20:23).

You may wish to bring your own chumash. Comfortable attire encouraged, and, if you wish to sit on the floor, a mat, zafu, pillow or blanket.

Posted in Torah | Leave a comment

Coupling Yitro, Priest of Midian, with Revelation at Sinai … Deep Ecumenism, Perhaps

KAGAN-YitroThis week’s Torah portion, in which we experience revelation at Sinai, is named for Moshe’s father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro). Yitro wasn’t a member of b’nei Yisrael/the children of Israel. On the contrary, he was a priest of Midian, which means that Moshe not only married “outside the tribe,” he married way outside the tribe.

The opening passages of Parshat Yitro tell the story of a loving family reunion, in which Yitro, hearing what God has done for Moshe and the the People of Israel, brings his Yitro and Moshedaughter/Moshe’s wife, Tziporra, and sons, Gershom and Eliezer, to Moshe in the wilderness (presumably they had stayed in Midian for safety’s sake while Moshe challenged Pharaoh in Egypt). 

The care and respect that these two men have for one another nearly leaps off the page as Moshe tells Yitro everything that had happened. Yitro “rejoiced over all the kindness that God had shown Israel,” and he blessed God. Yitro conveys genuine joy at the fortune of deliverance and safekeeping of the Israelites in the wilderness. He then gives sage advice to Moshe on how to conserve his own energy by appointing others to help with the task of governance. A truly compassionate and ego-less teaching on how to avoid “burnout” given from one leader to another.

It is easy to imagine that our sages wanted to send forward into our wisdom tradition an important message by including this chapter with the revelation at Sinai.  In the beginning of the next chapter, God tells Moses “you shall be my treasured possession among all the people.  Indeed, all the earth is mine, but you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6). By juxtaposing these two passages, the Torah teaches that it is possible both to be “chosen” and to understand that we are all part of a greater whole.  By leaving the passages linked in one Torah portion, the rabbis reinforce the message that we are all part of one human family.  There is always something significant that we can learn from one other.

The founder of ALEPH (Alliance for Jewish Renewal), Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z’l, taught us, his students, that each religious tradition is an organ in the body of collective Sandy Pond Deep Ecumenismhumanity; our differences are meaningful, and our commonality is significant. The body couldn’t function with only a heart or only a liver or only lungs and neither could it function missing one of those vital organs, he would remind us each time we were together. He called this deep ecumenism and he shared the deep belief in ecumenical collaboration with the brightest sages of many wisdom traditions. 

“Deep Ecumenism teaches us that we can best serve the needs of all humanity when we not only respect other religious paths, but collaborate with them in our shared work of healing creation. No one tradition contains all the answers, but every tradition can be (in the Buddha’s words) ‘a finger pointing at the moon,’ directing our hearts toward our deep ecumenism kabbalahSource.” (from aleph.org) The encounter between Moshe and Yitro, immediately before revelation at Sinai, is a perfect example of the kinds of learning and sharing that are possible.  May we continue in their footsteps, building bridges between people and Peoples and, in collaboration, doing the work of tikkun olam, healing the world.

This is a slightly altered version of a piece that Jennifer Singer wrote which appeared in the ALEPH blog, KolAleph, today. Reb Jennifer is spiritual leader of the independent Kol Haneshama in Sarasota, Florida, and is scheduled to receive rabbinical smicha from ALEPH in January 2017. The artwork of the rebbe’s unfolding scroll flowing into symbols of many religions is that of the gifted fabric artist, Sandy Pond, who beautifies every ALEPH event. The kabbalistic image at the top is the work of Jeremy Kagan (American Guild of Judaic Art). Other artwork cannot be attributed at this time.

Posted in Family, Liturgy, Parshat, Reb Zalman, Shabbat, Tikkun Olam, Torah | Leave a comment

Renewal of Life Reflected in Kabbalistic Seder of Tu B’Shvat

The Little Minyan Kehilla’s intergenerational Tu B’Shvat celebration will commence with a kid-friendly, multi-generational hands on activity at 2:45 p.m. and continue with a Kabbalistic Tu B’Shvat seder from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m..

Location: Antrim Park Shelter House, 5800 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, 43085

One of the finest examples of the renewal of Jewish ritual is found in the holiday of Tu B’Shvat. Originally, Torah’s legalistic birthday of the trees marking a time for tithing, this holiday has be adapted over the millennia to unlock its relevance to the people of many times and places. In our present climate of scientific warning and grave concern about the global ramifications of human impact on the health of our planet, Tu B’Shvat provides a spiritual practice to enrich our tikkun ~ our repair and care for the Earth.

tree-of-life72JudithShawIn the 15th Century, the kabbalists renewed Tu B’Shvat as an opportunity for spiritual enlightenment and tikkun/repair. The first published Tu B’Shvat seder revolves around eating ten symbolic fruits as a means of focusing awareness on the mystical states of being represented by different fruits, thus opening the participant to engaging in tikkun.

tubshvat.kibbutzIn the 20th Century, the early Zionists reclaimed Tu B’Shvat as a celebration of the land of Israel and its agricultural bounty. And in modern times, the environmental movement has adopted Tu B’Shvat as the holiday of nature – appreciating the natural bounty of the earth. Most recently, T’ruah, a rabbinical human rights advocacy organization, has created a Tu B’Shvat seder designed to recommit participants to the protection of human rights.

seven speciesFrom the very first year of our formation, The Little Minyan has been committed to active tikkun around environmental issues and proper nourishment of the body as well as the soul. Thus, it was a natural fit that our very first seder together in the winter of 2007 was in celebration of Tu B’Shvat. Our intentional community is unified most clearly by our shared commitment to environmental care and stewardship and Tu B’Shvat is one of our favorite shared experiences ~ one that so clearly illustrates the ways in which our Jewish wisdom tradition speaks to our present values and future dreams and desires.

Our intergenerational celebration will commence with a kid-friendly, multi-generational hands on activity at 2:45 p.m. and continue with a Kabbalistic Tu B’Shvat seder beginning at 3:15 p.m and concluding by 4:45.

Location: Antrim Park Shelter House, 5800 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, 43085; first parking lot on the right immediately after entering the park drive.

All are welcome and non-members are asked to make a contribution to nurture the seeds of our Little Minyan Kehilla and help sustain our valuable programming. Contributions can be made using the link in the upper right-hand corner of this website or in person.

Posted in Calendar, Eco-Judaism, Family, Hagim/Holidays, Holiday Celebrations, Spiritual Seeking, Tikkun Olam, Torah | Leave a comment

Erev Shabbat Service (Parshat Bo) ~ Friday, January 15th

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Join the Little Minyan Kehilla for the first Shabbat of the new month of Tevet and our first Shabbat gathering of 2016. We will welcome Shabbat with song, stories and prayer. The Torah portion will be Parshat Bo, when Moses … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment