3rd week: Before we can save our children…


We are in the third  of seven weeks of consolation, journeying toward Rosh Hashanah.  This Shabbat we overlay this special time by marking the last Hebrew month in the Jewish calendar, Elul.  Held within a vessel of comfort and consolation, we step up our preparations for the new year.  The shofar, blown daily (except on Shabbat) calls us to awaken to our lives as they are lived.  How have we treated others, ourselves and the earth itself?  Can we recall moments when we were at our best… and at our worst?  This inner work is solely for the purpose of ensuring continued spiritual, ethical, moral, emotional, intellectual, creative and communal  evolution.

Reading Psalm 27 daily, numerous levels of connection and truth surface.  All for the purpose of reflecting, responding and returning to Presence.  Wherever we find or take ourselves during the Days of Awe, the reality is the same – Jewish tradition creates space for rediscovery, renewal and reconnection with a life of purpose and meaning.  Every stop along the way is filled with potential.  The Torah says, “Choose life, that you may live.” This time is already set aside.  It is up to each of us to choose to enter it fully and purposefully.

Opening our hearts, minds and souls to the mysterious energy that  enlivens and connects us to one another, we come to understand that there is nothing but Presence.  And here, in this world, Happiness awaits our discovery.                                                                                   Rosh Chodesh tov,                                                                                                                                                 Rabbi Nina

3rd week of comfort: Before we can save our children…   

Shabbat R’eih (Dt. 11:26-16:17); Rosh Chodesh Elul

“And great shall be the happiness of your children 

V’rav shalom banayich (Is. 54:13)

Before we can save our children

We, the “unhappy, storm-tossed …, uncomforted!” (Is. 54:11)

Must save ourselves

Believe “You shall be safe from oppression” – Rachaki mei’oshek (Is. 54:14)

“And shall have no fear” – Ki lo tira’i (Is. 54: 14)

Parched from the wilderness of terror

     “Come for water” – L’chu lamayim (Is. 55:1)

Revive your wearied soul

     “Eat well” –Ichlu tov (Is. 55:2)

To sate your hunger for…

     R’eihUse your heart to open your eyes to joy

To choose otherwise is to curse ourselves with hopelessness

Seeing takes practice and requires full presence of being

Embrace the fullness of what is as it is

Gather in a harvest of joy – simcha

Set out as a cornucopia of blessings

Celebrate the bounty of your love

Make time for rejoicing

Pursue happiness

Calm the storm before it overcomes you

Breathe comfort into your suffering

     V’rav Shalom – Abundant peace and well-being

Will return you to life


     V’samachta -“You shall rejoice… with your son and daughter” (Dt. 16:14)

     “And great shall be the happiness of your children”

     V’rav shalom banayich (Is. 54:13)

Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi, Community Rabbi

26 Av 5776/ 29 August 2016

**Rosh Chodesh Elul begins at sunset on Friday, 9/2/16 and continues through sunset on Sunday, 9/4/16.


2nd week of comfort:Your wilderness will become like Eden

desert_flowersShabbat Ekev

Instructions for the 2nd of seven weeks of comfort

                               Inspired by excerpts from this week’s Haftarah (Isaiah 49:14-51:3)

Your wilderness will become like Eden (Is. 51:3)

Each drop of rain

Invites Paradise

The blossoming of beauty beyond description

Disrupts the arid wilderness

If only briefly…


Each awakening

Invites Paradise

The blossoming of gratitude

Transforms an arid soul

Into a Garden of Eden

If only briefly…


In the wilderness as in the soul

Just beneath the surface

Ready to flourish

Paradise awaits summoning

The seeds of possibility already planted

Within each of us

And all of us

Child, adult and elder

The sure, the ambivalent and the questioning

Those connected and the disconnected

Those seeking and those hiding

The joyous and the angry

There is no distinction

No separation.

There is only One Eden

It is us


Imagine what would happen

If every parched soul was quenched

Once beyond comprehension or grasp

Each would see herself in the other

Together a profound Oneness


Begin with yourself, inviting

A blossoming of awareness –

Chai AniI am alive (Is. 49:18)

Morning by morning (Is. 50:4)

“And who is this aliveness in me?”(1)

“Is it not the Holy Blessed One?”


Guard your speech, opening to

A blossoming of empathy and kindness

For [a] well-instructed tongue sustains the weary. (Is. 50:4)

Draw from the well of human dignity, demanding

A blossoming of justice –

Through rodfei tzedekthose who pursue justice (Is. 51:1)

Gather the blossoms, mindfully creating

A bouquet of unity –

Na’amda yachadLet us stand together (Is. 50:8)

In the garden of blessed possibility we have nurtured together


Your wilderness will become like Eden

Our wilderness will become One Paradise

Gladnesssasson and Joysimcha

Thanksgiving – todah and the sound of music – zimra(Is. 51:3)

Shall endure

Then we shall be Eden and Eden shall be us.

Baruch tih’yeh –

May you be blessed (Dt. 7:14)

May we be so blessed.


(1) A niggun called “I Am Aline” (Chai Ani) was composed by Rabbi Dovid Zeller, z”l(of blessed memory). Visit http://www.davidzeller.org/aliveness

Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi, Community Rabbi, 22 Av 5776       © 2016 by Nina j. Mizrahi

Stage a love-in!

unconditional-love-quote-1   Parashat V’etchanan/ Shabbat Nachamu

It’s time to stage a “Love-in!” In Talmudic times, to mark the beginning of the grape harvest, women would exchange clothing with each other, dress in white and dance in vineyards, hoping to find their soul mate.   This Friday, Tu B’Av (the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av) is celebrated as the “Festival of Love” (Chag HaAhava)! This Jewish Valentine’s Day is considered in Israel to be an auspicious day for marriage, romantic dates, and proposals.

Judaism speaks of an endless Source of Love that is ever-present, available and accessible to us. And we, created of this Love, have the capacity to open our hearts and pour our love into the universe. “You shall love (v’ahavta) [Love itself], with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might” (Dt. 6:5).

To love so intentionally is challenging, which perhaps is why the v’ahavta prayer is recited twice daily. The repetition of these words expands our capacity to love unconditionally. This practice grounds our private and public lives – “When you lie down and when you get up” (Dt. 6:7) and wherever we go in between. We are regularly reminded not to become absorbed in or attached to the chaotic emotions of fear, anger and judgment that disconnected us from LOVE.   This is a choice we make because it makes the world a better place. A life grounded in love invites healing and hope.

Loving ourselves and others in this way is a sacred act that evokes the qualities of compassion and forgiveness. It is an act of free will to transform what is negative, distant or cold in us into what is positive, intimate and warm. Directing our energies in this way, isolation is replaced by caring connection.  All this when we open our hearts to send and receive the deep and abiding LOVE that constantly awaits our embrace. This is the Truth – Emet.

Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi, Community Rabbi

14 Av 5776/ 18 August 2016

1st week of comfort: Between a person & her soul

self forgiveness - heart - Love The Jewish calendar holds space for feasting and fasting, regretting and repenting, remembering and discovering anew. Each festival has its own texts, customs and embedded values. Each season connects to the seasons of our soul. Both linear and cyclical, time is shaped by memory, experience and vision.

This past week Tisha B’Av was observed, marking the destruction of the primary, centralized Jewish Institution. Spiritually, it represents a break in the Divine Cosmos that only we can repair through acts of love and righteousness.   This repair is guided by our journey through personal and communal grieving, reflecting and rejoicing. Each day, week and month connect us to a rhythm of meaning. We have now entered into a period known as the “seven weeks of comfort.” During this time, we prepare for the rebirth and renewal of a new year, marked by Rosh Hashanah.

A meditation based on the Haftarah for each week will be offered to enrich your soul-trek. Feel free to share your reflections on the blog page.

May consolation and comfort free you to examine the obstacles of your life with curiosity, compassion, and hope.

Safe travels.

Nina J. Mizrahi, Community Rabbi

11 Av 5776/ 15 August 5776

Instructions for the first week of comfort:        Between a person and her soul – Bein adam l’atzmo

“Raise up your voice with power” (Is. 40:9)                                                                         Harimi vakoach koleich

“Raise up your voice with power” (Is. 40:9)


By returning to yourself.

Pay attention

To your weeping  soul


Regret running through your veins

Dissolving the shell of judgment

Which has encased your heart

Made hard by disappointment, denial, anger, hurt…

Thickened by layers of

Words or silence

Action and in-action

Holding back judgment and apathy

“Raise up your voice with power” (Is. 40:9)

Greet what is revealed

With compassion and curiosity

Witness the fullness of

Your own pain

Be with what is

As it is


Filling your lungs

With cleansing breath

Exhale what does not serve you

On this journey

Turn your love inward

To dissolve the hardened layers

Fill your heart with love

To the point of bursting

“Raise up your voice with power” (Is. 40:9)

Speak truth with compassion

Bare your soul

Invite self-forgiveness


Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi

Community Rabbi

11 Av 5776/ 15 August 2016

Be a blessing

Wildacres Retreat Center, North Carolina

Dedicated to my teacher, Rabbi Jonathan Slater & the Institute for Jewish Spirituality

High in the mountains

We walked through clouds.

Each day accompanied

By the silent flutter of butterflies

Each night

By the perpetual sound of katydids

In that holy place

We explored

What it means

To cultivate love

By facing life’s difficulties

With openness, acceptance and grace

In the midst of life’s ups-and-downs

To meet obstacles, disappointment and failure

With open hearts

We held each other’s

Heartache and brokenness

And there found divine Love

Hidden within perceived obstacles

We learned from texts

How to build an altar from a broken heart

Questions and doubts were heard

Without interruption or judgment

No fixing

Being with

What is as it is

Holding joy and despair

With love

Discovering within that acceptance


for the mundane

Discovering the sacred

In the everyday

Praying and learning,

Engaging and celebrating

Singing and dancing

Discerning the Divine

All the while

Discerning the Divine

Within ourselves and one another

Everything is God

There is nothing but God

It is not about you or me

Everything is part of the One

The Source of All

Unfolding within each moment

Transforming us from within

Building an ark,

A vessel of refuge

In the flooding waters of suffering

That we may survive

Even thrive

Held by goodness and compassion

For one reason alone –

To be a blessing



Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi

Community Rabbi

8 Av 5776/ 12 August 2016