The Kol Aleph Blog
The political situation that we find ourselves in has been filled with spiritual peril for me and for many of my colleagues and friends. My deepest intention is to love everyone, to know the whole world as my extended family. And yet, I find myself seething in outrage, and sometimes despairing. My reactivity reveals some pretty shadowy places, places in me that are yearning to be healed.
Since what I do well is lead fellow seekers in the process of transformative retreat, I decided to create the next SOULIFT especially for activists and seekers who struggle with these issues and aspire to heal the world through a journey that is also self-healing, awakening compassion and power through spiritual practices that are grounded in Jewish Wisdom.
The retreat is called SOULIFT: Healing into Action. I have called on a great teacher of activists to collaborate with me on this. Cherie Brown is someone whom I’ve long admired. She is the founder and executive director of NCBI The National Coalition Building Institute, and is expert at healing the grief, fear, and shame that get in the way of powerful, courageous leadership.
In order to come to clarity about what needs to be done and what our role is in response to the dysfunctions of government, the poisons of public discourse, the calamities of climate change, the lack of compassion for those in need, and the policies based on fear and hatred; we each need to engage in a process of moving from reactivity to wise and loving response.
I see this process as a spiral dance that keeps sending us towards connection, collaboration and energizing hopefulness. These are the steps that I take on this journey from Healing into Action:
1. Receiving Blessing and Coming into Gratefulness
2. Facing the Challenges and Honoring our Pain
3. Transforming our Perception and Embracing Paradox
We begin by opening to blessing, relaxing the tension and constriction that impedes the flow of breath and simple goodness. We enter into a state of gratefulness for the process itself, for the opportunity to rise to the challenge before us.
From that place of strength and fullness, we can turn and face what is difficult, grieve what has been lost, come out of numbness and begin feeling the pain that we share. We can honor that pain by knowing that it is tied to our love and to the truth of our connection that has been shattered and shadowed over by layers of illusion. When we stop resisting that pain, we can move through it, with support.
In the process we find our love again, and step into a wider view. As our perception shifts, we see the bigger picture and begin to know ourselves as integral to the cosmos. We expand. We embrace the paradox that this is a difficult and dangerous journey and yet, in this moment we have already arrived.
And then the spark happens. Imagine your every expression, action or gesture of Generosity as Overflow.
In that place of connection and fullness, we leave the struggle behind and open as channels of the Divine flow, trusting that flow more and more, dedicating ourselves to refining and purifying the channels that we are. We release our attachments to the outcome of our actions and begin to trust that when we are connected to Source, all that we give is the overflow. We are nurtured by the flow that moves through us. We don’t have to worry about burning out. In that realization, the spiral dance leads us back to gratefulness.
We can walk through that door of gratitude and be empowered. We can receive the blessing of Life as an amazing adventure, and we can become a blessing as we each shine with our unique refraction of Divine light.
-Rabbi Shefa Gold
Welcome to Nora Chernov | Program & Event Coordinator
We are delighted to bring Nora Chernov onto our team. Nora is handling the bulk of ALEPH’s marketing and communications. She also will provide event and retreat support as needed. Nora will be the logistics contact for SouLift, the Kesher Fellowship, and the Earth-Based Judaism initiative.
Nora most recently served as Jewish Student Life Engagement Coordinator at the Rochester Institute of Technology where she also graduated summa cum laude with a degree in political science in May 2017. She relocated to West Philadelphia at the beginning of the month.
In her free time, Nora likes to read, play board games, and make her way through an extensive backlog of podcasts. Her favorite Jewish holiday is Sukkot as she loves the opportunity to open the doors wide, gather as community, and be joyous and grateful.
Nora can be reached at email@example.com or 215.247.9700, x201.
Stephanie Bello | Promoted to Events Manager
Stephanie has been managing all things related to programs and events for the past two years. With Kallah 2020 on the horizon, we thought it made a lot of sense to promote Stephanie to Events Manager as she is both interested in and excels at event management. She will be the lead on Kallah logistics–from space planning to housing to meals and more.
Stephanie will continue to coordinate Tikshoret, our virtual learning program, and Beloved Land, our multi-narrative Israel/Palestine program, as well as smaller retreats throughout the year.
When Stephanie is not managing Kallah, she can most likely be found spending time with her two rescue dogs, Katonah and Tolstoy, or planning her upcoming wedding with her fiancé, Aaron. Her favorite Jewish holiday is Passover, as she loves to gather family and friends around the table for joyous celebration and endless bowls of matzah ball soup!
For questions related to any upcoming events, Stephanie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.247.9700, x260.
As we begin our annual immersion in the practice of teshuvah, Rabbi Diane Elliot offers some poems/prayers.
“Teshuvah,” as defined by Yaacov David Shulman, translator of Lights of Teshuvah by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, means “return.”
“It is the return to God; the return to health; the return to our soul; the return to the universe; the return to a mended planet; the return to happiness; the return to home.” —Yaacov David Shulman, 2017
Teach Me to Forgive
Master of Pardonings,
teach me to forgive—
to forgive myself,
to forgive You,
to forgive those who have hurt me
in the name of ignorance, mindlessness,
even righteousness and justice,
to forgive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
to forgive nature, human and otherwise,
personal and impersonal,
majestic and petty;
to forgive death,
to forgive You,
to forgive myself—
to forgive it all,
so that I may open to life,
living-and-dying as it is,
flowing through me
carrying it all along,
a great river of living-and-dying,
a mighty stream of birthing-and-dying,
a towering wave of living-and-dying.
Holy Merciful one
teach me to forgive.
––Rabbi Diane Elliot ©2019
Prayer for Elul
Make me a Shofar
Spiral of the Cosmos,
Ready to be blown
by the Power of Truth
––Rabbi Diane Elliot ©2019
Rabbi Diane’s new book, Unbounded Heart: Poems and Prayers, can be found on Amazon and on MoreBooks.