When Rabbi Dalia Samansky’s uncle died, her grandmother said, “God has been good to me. He gave me an extra 40 years with Marty.” “I was in awe of her ability to recognize and articulate her gratitude amidst her grief,” she says. “‘When you open yourself up to experience gratitude, you discover with clarity and accuracy how much good there is in your life…’”
Walking through Amsterdam’s cobblestone streets and looking up at its majestic buildings, “all senses are awakened to the history and memory surrounding you,” says Rabbi Tracy Kaplowitz. But what could Moses, in the absence of such material marvels, she wonders, leave as a legacy to our people? She finds her answer in an art exhibit in The Hague…
After a summer spent admiring bonsai trees and traversing a boulder field, Rabbi Rena Rifkin brought home two lessons: “The strongest trees are ones that can bend in the wind,” but you also need sure footing. “Our relationships, our community, our underlying beliefs — these are our rocks.”
“If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” asks Rabbi Dalia Samansky. As we approach the High Holy Days, “we are held to account for all of our actions, seen or hidden.” During the month of Elul, we reflect and introspect — to make amends and become better versions of ourselves. Follow our Elul Values Exploration to engage in this practice: swfs.org/elul.
Each day after we wake, “we ask God to open our eyes,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. What are we missing because we’re too busy looking at our phones or our feet? As we approach the High Holy Days, “may we open ourselves up to new avenues of perception.”
“What do you consider to be a ‘good’ Jew or a ‘bad’ Jew?” asks Rabbi Dalia Samansky. “To be a ‘good’ Jew, we must live our Judaism in our actions, not just our thoughts. As we approach the month of Elul — the traditional time for introspection and reflection — let us work to make our actions reflect the prayers of our hearts.”