A scoop of Ben & Jerry’s may taste like heaven, and for company co-founder Jerry Greenfield, the business of making ice cream has a spiritual side as well.
In some prayer books, the opening verses of this week’s Torah portion serve as a preparation for prayer. The verses repeat over and over again that a perpetual fire shall continue to burn on the altar. Why the focus on the need to keep the fire burning? And what does it mean to us now, after the destruction of the Temple and the end of the sacrificial system, when there is no longer a literal fire?
We have more synagogues and more freedom to use them here in Los Angeles than we did in Iran, but that doesn't mean we're any closer to fulfilling the true purpose of gathering in a house of worship.
If you listen to what cosmologists say about the origin of the universe, you have to put your mind in a place where mystics also dwell.
At the beginning of "For One More Day," Mitch Albom's latest sermon on life, death and the realms beyond, fallen baseball star Charles "Chick" Benetto attempts suicide.
Bibliographical guide for the perplexed compiled by Amy Klein.
Elul is traditionally a month for polishing the soul. During this time, we search ourselves for blemishes. Then, through the process of teshuvah, we polish and refine ourselves. The culmination of this refinement is the fast of Yom Kippur, from which we hope to emerge shining and radiant.
This was by far the most spiritual moment in my life. I gazed up at the stars as I chanted the V'Ahavta prayer with amazing new friends, standing around the same rocks that our people had wandered past thousands of years before. My eyes couldn't help but tear up as we moved on to the Mi Chamocha, the song of freedom. At that moment I felt as though God truly was with us.
Moshav Band, which was founded as a direct result of Carlebach's influence, just released its first English only album -- "Misplaced."
"Therefore" connects all our fine sentiments and deep wisdom with the reality of the world. "Therefore" binds us to bring our values out of the vague realm of our subjectivity and into the hard objective world of work, family, politics and power. "Therefore" tests all our spiritual aspirations and visions against the limits of our courage, imagination and resolve. "Therefore" makes religion real. Every day, someone confesses, "Rabbi, I'm a deeply spiritual person."
There is logic to honoring one's parents. There is a rationale for not stealing or murdering. But for purification in a ruddy, bovine shower, why would God ask such a thing of us?
I'll be honest with you. I don't know. But neither did King Solomon, the wisest of men. It seems that this is part of the definition of a chok, that its raison d'etre remains a mystery.
"I have been told not to touch the Torah and to go back to my own religion" she relayed to me matter-of-factly.
"Wasn't there anyone you could confide in?" I asked.
"I could confide in some more than others, but when it came down to it, no one really cared whether I converted or not."
My girlfriend "E" was the first to declare what others had been observing for a while. "God sure is having a good laugh," she said. "You write a column called 'A Woman's Voice.' And yet you have no voice". The irony had crossed my mind.
Haruach sings with a modesty and softness that enhances the simple and good-natured spiritual messages of her songs. That, in itself, is an unusual trait, because audiences have come to expect artists who make spiritual/new age, religious music to have overproduced studio performances.
Warren told Wolfson his interest is in helping all houses of worship, not in converting Jews. He said there are more than enough Christian souls to deal with for starters.
Heaven, paradise -- choose a synonym: ecstasy, bliss, rapture. We use such words to describe experiences of perfect, supreme happiness, God on earth. The conditions on Sunday merited all such descriptions, especially that immaculately blue sky. Skies like that burn gloom away.
As the years have gone by, I realize I'd just as soon be alone than continue to go through cycles of head-spinning effort with someone in exchange for a couple of moments of grace. So I don't do that anymore. And though this kind of spiritual honesty has created an ease in my nervous system (and a welcome death to that horrible intimate uncertainty of giving myself where it's not appreciated), I have to stop and wonder, have I become overworked and underplayed?
The 200 closely knit families of Burbank's Temple Beth Emet, heeding the precept that all Jews are responsible for one another, are accustomed to providing aid and comfort quietly and inconspicuously. But the congregation has been galvanized to very public action by news that the mother of fellow congregant Roni Razankova's mother, a citizen of Macedonia, has contracted liver cancer and needs urgent medical attention in the United States.
Freud famously called dreams "the royal road to knowledge of the unconscious." And his own dreams and their analysis revealed to him a whirl of conflicts around his Jewish identity.
It's not that glitz, glamour and secular themes at b'nai mitzvah are inherently problematic, like in the soon-to-be-released one-upsmanship film, "Keeping Up With the Steins," but when they're inadequately balanced with Jewish values we can be left with an empty shell of a party that undermines the entire point of these meaningful milestones.
Some things never change. We all know the storyline. Moses was expected back after 40 days in heaven where he was receiving the Torah. But he was late coming back on the 40th day: "And the people saw that Moses tarried [boshesh], in coming down from the mountain" (Exodus 32:1).
After more than 20 years at Valley Beth Shalom, Rabbi Ed Feinstein recently was named senior rabbi at the Encino synagogue, succeeding Rabbi Harold Schulweis. Recently, Rabbi Feinstein, 51, began teaching an adult education course called "Knowing God: The History of the Jewish Spiritual Journey."
Immediately following the Ten Commandments, we read a series of instructions that seem a little out of place: You shall not make gods of silver alongside me, nor shall you make yourselves gods of gold. You need make for me only an earthen altar and bring your sacrifices there, and I shall come and bless you wherever my name is mentioned.
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I've joined 14 adults on a daylong excursion in Malibu Creek State Park led by Rabbi Mike Comins, who runs Torah Trek, Spiritual Wilderness Adventures. Whether it's a one-day exercise for first-timers -- like ours is -- or a multiday meditative adventure, the idea is to spend time studying Torah, reading, thinking, meditating and seeking a "God experience," as Comins calls it. We are now at the ultimate moment of the day, the portion called "hitbodedut," which translates from the Hebrew as "to be alone."
"I always say it is lingerie and meditation that have kept me young," says Michael Attie, a 62-year-old author, spiritual seeker and former owner of Playmates of Hollywood -- the world's largest lingerie store.
Once known as "The Lingerie Monk," Attie managed to combine his passion for spirituality with 13 years of selling sexy lingerie on Hollywood Boulevard.
I first met Attie when I recorded his mother's family history, and she told the story of her son inheriting Playmates of Hollywood. Her husband owned the store until 1982, when, faced with declining health, he called his son, who was meditating in the woods of Northern California, and asked him to come home to run the lingerie store.
Michael Attie made the most of it.
Chaim is -- or was -- a Skver Chasid, born and raised in the ultra-Orthodox enclave of New Square, N.Y. His world until recently was Torah, family and a close-knit community.
But now he's entering the secular world.
This week we meet Moses, our new leader and adviser. Moses is commanded to go to Egypt, gather the people and demand their freedom from Pharaoh.
Each of us lives a spiritual journey. One of greatest tasks in life is to know our journey, to understand its contours and what it demands of us. The Torah teaches us these journeys, these paths into our center.
Guitarist and composer Adam Del Monte has the musical sophistication and spiritual depth to explore Jewish mysticism beyond the trendy or superficial.
I once heard a colleague recount how, after lecturing about God, a man came up and told him that he was impressed with his lecture. He explained that although he wasn't personally observant and didn't attend synagogue, he had a close relationship with the Almighty.
"The longest journey is the journey inwards. Of him who has chosen his destiny...." -- Dag Hammarskjold, "Markings" (1964)
In a tent on an ashen desert plain, seven Jews take refuge against the beating sun.
If you're Jewish, this is not for you to read. Please clip this editorial and hand it off to a close non-Jewish friend. I'm certain some of your best friends aren't Jews.
"Who shall live and who shall die ... who shall perish by fire and who by water?"
One of the most important questions we need to ask ourselves, particularly as we approach Yom Kippur, is: How will we be remembered?
Since the early 1990s, Rabbi Abner Weiss, former rabbi at Beth Jacob Congregation and current rabbi at the Westwood Village Synagogue, has been using kabbalistic tools in his psychology practice. Recently, he published "Connecting to God, Ancient Kabbalah and Modern Psychology," a book that asserts the congruity of the two disciplines.
The recent tragic hurricanes in the South have been difficult to watch.
Independent readers -- who might pull out a book during a particular part of the service in which they lose interest -- are likely to be reading serious books, trying to deepen their experience of the holidays.
Vanessa Paloma's performance at the 200-year-old mission is one highlight of the 2005 World Festival of Sacred Music, which will be spread out among many Los Angeles locations over a two-week period beginning Saturday.
People always tell me that I am a downer, constantly talking about the world's problems here, genocide there; conflict here, poverty there. Nobody ever wants to talk to me at a party!
Gabe Goldman wanted to believe in miracles, wanted to believe in the power of prayer, wanted to believe that God had spoken to prophets. But Goldman, an Orthodox Jew, felt burned out on Judaism. He would perform the rituals with perfect technique, but no heart. A change, he thought, was in order.
At the time, a little more than a decade ago, Goldman held a prestigious job as curriculum director of the Bureau of Jewish Education in Cleveland. He earned $70,000 annually, enough to own a comfortable home and provide for his wife and four children.
On Saturday night Marci Malat will sit in silence and darkness pierced only by candlelight, listening to the chanting of Eicha, or Lamentations, in her synagogue to commemorate Tisha B'Av.
As I climbed the green Galilean hills of Tsfat to reach the family hosting me for Shabbat, I wondered how it had changed since the last time I was in Israel's mystical city.
The 2008 election may be more than three years away, but one group is hoping to press the Democratic Party to infuse spirituality into its platform for that campaign.
In the last few weeks of her life, Barbara Sherman had the help of Jewish Hospice Project-Los Angeles, which offers spiritual end-of-life care for the Jewish community, regardless of religious affiliation. Sherman, whom her family describes as a life-long spiritual seeker, was brought back to her roots upon hearing Jewish songs and prayers in her final days.
A tradition holds that as Abraham walked the land of Israel, he called out the name of every Jew who would one day follow in his steps upon the earth.
I understand tikkun olam, the repairing and healing of our world, as the central calling of our people. All of the prayer, teaching, outreach, pastoral work and congregational activities that I help facilitate lead me back to the notion that they are somehow helping to add the necessary energy into our global cosmos, which can facilitate the advent of a new and better time for all people. And I know that each of us is working, in our own way, to help better the world.
To structure the sprawling "Waters," James Still drew on Arthur Schnitzler's classic play, "La Ronde," in which scenes are connected by protagonists moving from one sequence to another.
In your recent article, the Bush administration criticizes Israel's building of new homes in the Maale Adumim settlement as a violation of the "road map" [peace plan] ("Jews Try to Sell Withdrawal Plan to Jews," April 1).
What is the touchstone that unites a 26.2-mile marathon with a Siyum Hashas celebration of completing the 7.5-year page-a-day Talmud cycle?
"Please understand, rabbi. I'm very spiritual. I'm just not religious."
It is the anthem of a generation.
I'm spiritual: I wrestle with the meaning of my existence. I cultivate my inner life. I feel God is very close. I sense my connectedness to others and to the earth and I try to live compassionately.
But I'm not religious: I'm uncomfortable in the institutions and structures of organized religion. Formal religion binds my freedom and gets in the way. I'm eclectic. I take the best of all traditions but I belong to none.
The group stood in silence, heads bowed. The triumvirate of Catholic, Episcopal and Presbyterian ministers waited for responses within the prayer circle at the Cenacle (the upper room), the traditional site of the Last Supper, on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.
A vocal and influential group is pushing for an evangelical Christian hegemony in American life, and I, for one, have absolutely no problem with that idea. That's right, bring on the evangelicals -- as long as they are all like Jim Wallis.
If you don't know Jim Wallis, you'll have a wonderful opportunity to do so by hearing him speak in Beverly Hills on Feb. 20, or by buying his new book, "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It" (Harper San Francisco).
Military chaplains have a proud history in the U.S. military, and most of them uphold the mission of the Chaplain Corps in the various services to America's troops and to ensure their right to free exercise of religion.