Saturday, September 30, 2017

Yom Kippur

G’mar Hatimah Tovah

May you be sealed for a good year [in the Book of Life]

Friday, September 29, 2017


Turn to one another
and see the holy spark 
Turn inward
and seek to repair
seek to return
to the Holy One

Thursday, September 28, 2017

7. Standing Meditation


May we greet the stranger
May we feed the hungry
May we clothe the needy
in the shalom of love
May the shalom of the day
surround us
May the shalom of the night
be our lullaby 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

6. Standing Meditation

       giving gratitude for the
blessings of our day

today i found mushrooms
half hidden beneath tall grass
today i listened to women
wrestle meaning from a book
today i woke up with the sun
and gave thanks
for the new day

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

5. Standing Meditation

      May we pray with joy and love

Imagine the strumming of a guitar,
 the utterances of a flute 
Imagine a nigun, a  song without words
accompanying your prayers
—a song of the soul 


Monday, September 25, 2017

4. Standing Meditation

Today is Holy

Sustain us 
and bring peace
to our table 
and to our world

Instead of seeing 
our differences
let us rejoice in our diversity 
for today is holy
Rather than words that divide
let us seek words that are a balm
for today is holy
Rather than hoard our wealth 
let us spread it where needed
for today is holy 

Sustain us 
and bring peace
to our table
 and to our world

Sunday, September 24, 2017

3. Standing Meditation

Kidushat Hashem
The holiness of God’s name

when i stood within the canyon
and read the rocks with the palm of my hand
when i hiked through red and orange sculptures
as the sun gathered itself and appeared as a ball of fire
when i walked around a pond and heard the cry of a loon
when i sat on a flat rock and
let the river run through my fingers
when i glimpsed wilderness
i stood in awe

Saturday, September 23, 2017

2. Standing Meditation

God’s strength: giver of life to everything

even the people who make you uncomfortable
even the wild turkeys that gather on lawns
even the insects that sting
even those people who get under your skin
they all are God’s creatures
even the animals and fish that are extinct
even the sponge and the coral
and the octopus, anteater, and two toed sloth
—all God’s creatures

Friday, September 22, 2017

1. A Standing Meditation

Avot v’imahot
or the connection with our ancestors

years before my grandfather painted apartments in the bronx he served in the russian army a job he left to travel first to ellis island where his name became mangled and he lost the last few letters of his last name and ended up in a tenement building on the lower east side along with other immigrants and there he met his wife who had long red hair

I don’t know how or when they migrated to the bronx with their family of three sons and one daughter or how he became a house painter

his wife, cecila, loved purple and cooked potato pancakes and all my older cousins believed that she made wine in the bathtub but that was never proved and i didn’t care because all i wanted to do was watch her brush her long red hair and twist it into a figure eight held together with a few barrettes and a deft touch

we visited their apartment every other sunday even though my mother thought it too often and i became bored

in the afternoon my grandfather stood facing the direction of jerusalem and davened

my mother's mother, yette, was married to a man who drove a meat truck and was active in the teamsters and because of his union background i learned to never cross a picket line and i never have

he died when I was three and my grandmother came to live with us in a three room rent controlled apartment in the bronx where i never thought we didn't have enough space and my grandmother and i shared the bedroom while my parents slept on a pullout bed in the living room

yette had a beautiful soul and for years attended night school english classes where she learned how to speak "american" and wrote short sentences on scraps of paper which she kept in her pocketbook--i,too,keep scraps of paper with sentences or quotes in my tote bag

she taught me how to play pisha pasha, a card game, and told me to never pass by someone who is homeless and asking for money

I don't know the people who came before my grandparents although i did know that they came from poland and russia and a few from germany

Thursday, September 21, 2017


             “He will take us back in love; He will cover up
              our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into
              the depths of the sea.”
                       Micah 7:19

find fast moving water
if that’s not possible any body of water—
and if there are fish in the water
it adds to the symbolism
for just the way fish are caught
we too are tangled up by our misdeeds
cast your sins into the water
and watch the current
take them downstream

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

#BlogElul Day 29: Return


I turn again
and look at what needs
cleaning, shoring up
The past is filled
with potholes and cracks
Streaks mar the mirror
and clarity is distorted
In time I’ll return and untangle
places still knotted and tender

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#BlogElul Day 28: Give

time to
think about this
year and next
What needs to be done
to repair and forgive—
to renew and refurbish
to hold and to let go
Let me empty my pockets
of any crumbs

Monday, September 18, 2017

#BlogElul Day 27: Bless

If Not Today When

Lord, bless us all—
those who fall and stand up again,
those who fall and can’t get up
those who try to live right
and those who don’t try
Lord, we all need your blessing
even those who don’t know your name
and never talk to you
Lord, the road is long
Bless each of us

Sunday, September 17, 2017

# BlogElul Day 26: Create


When I try to replicate the color of grass
under an overcast sky I mix my paints
until I think the hue's been captured.
God, the ultimate painter choose the palette

Later I sketch you reading
These lines are mine
They wander across your face,
down the arm that holds a book
I find a rhythm and my pencil moves
with care as I follow your shape

Saturday, September 16, 2017

#BlogElul Day 25: Change

First You Look

I look in the mirror and note more gray hairs,
loose skin under my chin and a web of lines
Every year I look backwards, lose myself
in memories and make a list of projects
for the coming year: go through and organize
2,658 photos, cook one new recipe a month,
put together a book of poetry, write letters to
old friends, finally paint the Tree of Life
My goals gather momentum
as I list one thing after another
A dizzying pace of to do, want to do items
This type of list is far easier than seeing
what needs to change
because facing up to change is hard
Change demands attention—-
It means pointing a mirror into
hidden crevices and letting light in

Friday, September 15, 2017

#BlogElul Day 24: Hope

Prayer, the Handmaiden of Hope

You can live without chocolate frappes,
pizza with five toppings, a Starbucks latte,
front row seats at the game of your choice,
cable television, even your smart phone—
but you can’t live without hope
Hope speaks to possibilities

Thursday, September 14, 2017

#BlogElul Day 23: Begin

    God sorts the stories we don’t tell.
           —Rachel Barenblatt

Let us begin to unspool 
our untold stories
and let them roll out  
over the grass, gravel, and asphalt
until they arrive at a small stream
where children toss sticks and watch
the current take them downstream
Let us make boats out of tree bark
to hold our stories
and set them loose

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

#BlogElul Day 22: End

                       An End is Also a Beginning

i remember when I first learned to phone friends and we didn’t know how to end conversations so we kept saying goodbye until someone finally said “my mother called me” and that helped stop the endless goodbyes yet growing older didn’t make acknowledging an end any easier  because an end carries feelings that need expression and yet we don’t always know the correct words even when we know the feelings

death is an end, a finality that nudges reflection and remembering the trajectory of a friendship, of  the fulcrum of family and the wish for more time so conversations might be replayed, edited, or  amended and more time to redo or create new memories 

recognizing an end instead of looking to see if there is another page is a hard earned skill

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Month of Elul

"The Hebrew letters of the word  ( Elul) אלִול can be read as an acronym for the phrase Ani l'dodi v'dodi li, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." Song of Songs"
  The Velveteen Rabbi

#BlogElul Day 21: Love


              Love Defined

Is love doled out in droplets
or expansive and overflowing—
without boundaries, without demands
Is love unconditional—no strings,
no if and then preconditions 
Ask yourself if this was always so

Monday, September 11, 2017

#BlogElul Day 20: Fill

 Lord, Fill Me With Your Spirit

I got a silk bow tie
and bangles
that jingle 
Velvet pants
that fit like a lover
A satin shirt
and a cummerbund 
made of shimmer 
sequins like my
momma bought
to sew on sweaters
I got a hat with feathers
and dancing shoes
I’m ready Lord
to dance

Sunday, September 10, 2017

#BlogElul Day 19: Speak

A Retrospective 

Speak up
Speak out
Speak as if  life
depended upon your words
Speak up for those times
you were silent

Let me speak the words
I never said
Let me speak the words
I swallowed 

Saturday, September 09, 2017

#BlogElul Day 18: Ask


What to ask ? Only those things that exist as possibilities, or miracles that seem impossible—perhaps ask to partner in the answers.

Friday, September 08, 2017

#BlogElul Day 17:Awaken

     To Awaken 
Apprise yourself of those places
that are tarnished and seen
through half-closed eyes
Inform yourself of places that
need a voice and speak 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

#BlogElul Day 16:Pray


Pray for those who eat the leftovers 
Pray for the woman wrapped in a blanket
with a park bench as a bed
Pray for the child with the hollow chest
and eyes that bulge
Pray for those who live with no walls
Pray for those who refuse to see,
for those who can’t hear the footfalls,
for those who walk past the  man
who sits on the sidewalk with a cup 
and a  cardboard sign--
Homeless and Hungry
Pray for forgiveness 
for all the times we meant to give
Pray for the times we didn’t speak,
didn’t make eye contact
And I pray for forgiveness for thinking
that it is the other who too often forgets 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

#BlogElul Day 15: Intend

    I Intend to 

Someday I’ll sit down and recall 
the number of things I thought 
I’d do, but life interrupted
My unwritten novel never moved 
beyond a thin skeleton plot
Maybe there's comfort in staying 
within the boundaries 
Someday I’ll create a list
of places I meant to see,
hikes missed, apologies not made
Perhaps this year I’ll write
unsent letters to those
who can no longer hear my words 
Perhaps this year I'll practice
saying words out loud 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

#BlogElul Day 14:Learn

The grass learns from the rain 
and grows toward the clouds—
a drought turns the grass into brittle straw
A metaphor for love

Monday, September 04, 2017

#BlogElul Day 13: Remember

       Searching for a Revision

I think I remember my surprise birthday party
with a centerpiece and napkins to match,
a home baked cake and a candle for each year.
But when I last tried to recall the table I saw frosted
cupcakes and a wrapped present and one candle.
That’s how memories change with time.
Was I happy? Did I thank you for this party?
Just the two of us. Your brother was at basketball
practice and ate his cake long after the
balloons came down and the centerpiece folded.
I remember a long silence while we ate our cake 
on matching plates. What happened then?
Did we laugh? Sometimes I think we went somewhere
after the cake? Other times I think we moved
separately and let the silence blanket the rooms.
That silence followed us— a marauder tamping
down a chance at a different story.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

#BlogElul Day 12: Count

Peace Be With You
and with you
and with you

Let us count our blessings
this day

Saturday, September 02, 2017

#BlogElul Day 11: Trust

                                 Finding the Universe in a Story

         A way of coming face to face with what you think or thought often happens when reading a book. When I trust an author, a character within a story, the narrative flow— I may find that the words I read could be my words. While the specific situation differs, different plot, characters that bear no resemblance, the author hones in and explores, delineates some human flaw that resonates with most people. A good author writes so that the reader finds that the story belongs to everyone. Perhaps not each aspect, but enough so that the story is universal.
        While reading  Nicole Krauss’s book Great Houses I came across a paragraph that spoke to me about relationships. The paragraph is too long to quote—but three lines will do.

           “The moment after you walked out of the room I realized that I’d lost my chance. I understood that you had offered me a reprieve, and I squandered it. And I                                       knew it would not come again.”

Friday, September 01, 2017

#BlogElul Day 10: Forgive

Forgive Me

Some remembering is hard, tough
calluses form over time—
Forgiving whittles down 
the edges, softens those places
where hairline cracks turn
into gaps of silence