"...During my hydrant quest, self-consciousness crept in as I cycled around. I wondered if I should stop, turn around and do something more ‘grown up’, as if spending an hour being delighted had little value. As I keep learning, play for its own sake is a necessity, not a luxury or something we're meant to outgrow. The need to play comes from our essence and is an integral part of being human...."
"...Judaism is about balancing the playful and the serious. Life is about balancing them as well. We all have times when play and levity just don't feel right, times when we need to be serious and solemn, thoughtful and intentional. And at other times, we crave and embrace the humor and levity...."
At the first national Consultation for the New Paradigm Spiritual Community Initiative, convened by Rabbi Sid Schwarz, participants were asked in advance to describe the ways that they form and sustain their respective spiritual communities.
To read their responses...
From New Paradigm Spiritual Communities Initiative, npsci.org
Join Clal Resident, Rabbi Dan Ain of Because Jewish, as he leads "Seder Shabang: Wise, Wicked, Simple + Without Words" held at the JCC in Manhattan on Friday evening, April 22, 2016.
"...When there has been a profound loss, one can feel as though life will never be sweet again. As though the moment one wakes the grief will be crushing again, and it will be crushing until sleep, and then maybe also even in sleep. But it isn't perennial. The day will come when you wake and grief isn't the first thing to arise. The day will come when you wake with ease. With comfort. Even with joy. The crushing weight of grief will lift, and on the other side -- please, let there be gentleness.
"What draws people to come to religious services?
It's a question that has bedeviled clergy and dedicated lay leaders over the last few decades as more and more people leave organized religion. Sometimes people argue that churches and synagogues need to embrace the latest flashy trends. Others argue that deep commitment and tradition are what will draw people in...."
"...So my question is really, why? Why is almost everyone striving, on a daily basis, for the very things that don't make them happy? Why do we live our lives in search of something that hasn't been shown – whether from the viewpoint of an academic study – or our own experiences, to give us anything more than bragging rights, (something also shown to do nothing to increase our happiness?) If I had to hazard a guess I'd say it has something to do with fear.
"It was one of those mornings. I accidentally turned off the alarm. The flight to Manila was at 6 AM. I missed it. I put my stuff down to battle it out with airline representatives, turned around and my laptop, tossed on top of my suitcase in the frenzy of flight rescheduling, had been stolen. Of course I had a major deadline, a big project due...."
"...I was dismayed and saddened for so many reasons. I scanned the crowd, as they locked in joyous step with Trump's cadence. But, then more, I felt downtrodden when I looked over at my niece and saw the look of utter confusion on her face. Her expression read, ‘I don't understand. Everything he says about Israel is what my family wants and teaches me. And, yet, the way he speaks about other people is exactly how my parents teach me not to act....’"
"...As a senior fellow at CLAL and author, most recently of ‘Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Community,’ Schwarz has observed that while there is a sharp decrease in synagogue affiliation among young people, there is also a yearning among many for what he calls ‘communities of meaning.’ These communities find expression in a variety of activities, from prayer and meditation to social justice to farming and environmental sustainability...a small but growing number of youn