Tag Archives: Social Justice

Exploring Questions of the Heart, Mind, & Spirit

by on January 26, 2016

When it comes to nurturing our Jewish lives, much attention and energy is focused on the communal, public business of the Jewish people. This ranges from working on behalf of Israel and fighting anti-Semitism to engaging in Jewish politics, both internal and external. While these tasks are essential for the Jewish community, at the same time it seems important, as well as prudent, not to shirk from paying attention to the spiritual and ethical sensibilities that nourish our inner Jewish lives.

Our hearts and souls have serious questions: When we are faced with the pain and anguish of life’s tragedies, how do we cope? How can we attain that elusive feeling of being “whole?” What does it really mean to “repair the world” and how do we best take up the call of our tradition to fill the earth with righteousness? What does it mean to create a sacred community? We might wonder where is God when we need God, or how can we pursue a meaningful relationship with God? What Jewish wisdom can help heal our befuddled souls?

So many questions.

The answers may lie in taking that first step toward a Jewish spiritual journey that is not easy but can be richly rewarding. Focusing on this journey means attending to three central and overlapping areas of life.

Establishing a Relationship with the Divine
I prefer to speak of the divine rather than use the word “God,” since that word is loaded with immense baggage, ranging from the image of a man with a long white beard to the image of an angry and aggressive deity such as we find in Torah stories. We may have long ago stopped believing in those gods, but might perhaps find resonance with a different form of divinity, such as the idea of God as the Oneness of all Being, or the energy of life.

Emphasizing and Activating a Concern for Social Justice
Jewish tradition encourages Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and Gemilut Chesed (acts of loving-kindness) as pathways to achieve the well-being of others.

Finding Meaning in Life
This requires us to face the suffering that life brings and find solace when faced with life’s challenges. Diving into Jewish teachings and seeking those pearls of wisdom that make life meaningful is a path best navigated by a guide; one who is familiar with the yearning of the human heart.

Rabbi Wayne Dosick, the 2016 North Peninsula Scholar-in-Residence, is such a guide.
In his book, Dancing with God, he notes that “there has been a dramatic awakening to the knowledge that the universe is so much more than we can see, feel, hear, or experience at this moment in time…. The once comfortable world of Rabbinic Judaism is no longer enough for most of us…. Its insistence on the primacy of the law no longer speaks to our spiritually questing hearts and souls.”

Rabbi Dosick has been described as “a rational intellect with the soul of a mystic,” and Rabbi David Ellenson (former president of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion) recently called him “a spiritual master for our time.” During the two weeks that Rabbi Dosick joins our community, he will take us on an exploration of the spiritual journey. He’ll address our need for solace and the Godly in our lives, as well as the Jewish ethical teachings that can help make our world one of goodness and righteousness, providing a rare opportunity to learn from a great teacher. Embrace this time to reflect upon and discuss the ethical and spiritual understandings that make our lives meaningful.

North Peninsula Jewish Community welcomes 2016 Scholar-in-Residence
Rabbi Wayne Dosick • January 28 – February 10, 2016
Don’t miss this mystical educator, writer, and spiritual guide!
To learn about Rabbi Dosick’s additional speaking engagements throughout the North Peninsula Jewish Community, please visit pjcc.org/scholar.

 

 

Amazing Things Happen When We Work Together

by on March 21, 2014

October 2013 was intense around here.  Well, at least for me; and certainly for our Artist-in-Residence, Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen.

The Center was filled with excitement, anticipation and inspiration for me and the hundreds of you who participated in one of our 28 mural painting sessions.

Our community, under Jay’s guidance,  took 1,560 square feet and 8 planter tops of blankness and transformed them into a work of art. A work of art that communicates social justice themes such as Environmental Stewardship, Human Rights & Dignity, Economic Justice, and Food Justice.

Do you remember eating lunch outside by the J café and seeing the steady progression over 15 packed days?  Or perhaps coming back after an absence to notice the work fully realized?  I remember October, but this documentary by Chip Curry brought back vivid details by capturing the communal spirit and offering candid testimonials.  I’m delighted to share it with you.

Continue reading

Interview with Rabbi David Saperstein – Part 2

by on January 22, 2014

Rabbi David Saperstein

Interview with Rabbi David Saperstein - Part 2

In our second installment of Q&A with Rabbi David Saperstein, Rabbi Lavey Derby asks about his roll and influences.

Q: You’re held in high esteem by colleagues and peers: who do you admire and why?

“Too many to do justice to. I have been blessed to meet and work with so many of the greats over the years. My parents rank alone in their influence on my life: My father, as a beloved rabbi for nearly 50 years in one synagogue and he and my mother as passionate social justice activists. In the Jewish social justice arena, my two most influential Jewish social justice mentors were Al Vorspan, the longtime social justice VP of the Reform Jewish Movement, and at 90, in my Continue reading

Powerful Force in Washington DC Comes to PJCC

by on January 16, 2014

Rabbi David Saperstein

Interview with Rabbi David Saperstein - Part 1

The North Peninsula Jewish Community is honored to welcome Rabbi David Saperstein, a passionate spokesperson for social justice, as our 2014 Scholar in Residence. Rabbi Saperstein is Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, representing the Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the Administration. In 2009 Newseek Magazine named Rabbi Saperstein as the most influential rabbi in the country and the Washington Post described him as “the quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill.”

Rabbi Saperstein was kind enough to give us this interview so that our community might get to know him better. Continue reading