Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

 

Inside the (Hanukkah) Light

Posted on: December 18th, 2022 by Alden No Comments

5235427938_eee362646b_zThis meditation on light pluses with hope, carrying echoes of Hanukkah. It’s about seeing, feeling, and loving the light shining around us, and our yearning to be a source of light and hope for the world. I wrote it in 2012 on my Aliyah flight. My friend Cantor Brad Hyman set as a song in 2017. In 2021, CCAR Press published it my third solo volume with them, This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer. Here’s an article by Cantor Hyman on his inspiration for the music on Reform Judaism.org. I’m reposting this for Hanukkah 2022/5783.

Inside the Light
A rainbow shines
Inside the light.
If you could be the dew drop
You would always see it.

Stillness waits
Inside the light.
If you could be the sky
You would always feel it.

The sunrise dawns
Inside the light.
If you could be the horizon
You would always find it.

Freedom flows
Inside the light.
If you could be the wind
You would always ride it.

Beauty rises
Inside the light.
If you could be the sparrow
You would always reach it.

Mystery pulses
Inside the light.
If you could be the wonder
You would always know it.

Majesty reigns
Inside the light.
If you could be the wisdom
You would always hear it.

Faith rests
Inside the light.
If you could be the eagle
You would always hold it.

Your soul glows
Inside the light.
If you could be yourself
You would never leave it.

© 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer

Postscript: Here’s another link to Cantor Hyman’s  musical setting. My other Hanukkah prayers include: “Lamps Within” and “The Season of Dedication.”

Please check out my CCAR Press Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. The individual books are: This Grateful Heart, This Joyous Soul, and This Precious Life. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter. For a taste of my teaching, see my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer.”

Photo Source: Ron Almog

Three Meditations for Tu B’Shvat

Posted on: January 24th, 2021 by Alden No Comments

Here are three meditations for Tu B’Shvat. It’s also called Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot, the ‘New Year of the Trees,’ which begins Wednesday evening, Jan. 27, 2021. A festival of renewal and hope, it’s celebrated as an ecological awareness day, as well as a day for planting trees.

Orchid, Cedar and Date Palm
If only I could see
Your love as an orchid blossom,
I would smell the secret scent of holiness
From the heavens.

If only I could see
Your love as a cedar in Lebanon
I would stand tall in the strength
Of Your glory.

If only I could see
Your love as a date palm,
I would become the sweet fruit
Of divine plenty.

This Prayer is a Tree
Could it be
That a prayer
Is like a tree
Falling in the woods?
No one needs to hear
Its thunderous crash,
For its nutrients to soak
Back into the earth.
For its hollows
To provide shelter.
For it to become
One with life itself.

Let your prayers
Pour out upon
The fertile ground
Of your heart.
Let your prayers
Feed your aching soul.

Could it be
That your prayer
Is like a tree
Falling in the woods?
No one needs to see it
Crack and tumble
For it to clear space
For new growth.
For it to open space,
Letting sunlight
Penetrate the deep.
For it to become
One with life itself.

Tending Gardens
Wildflowers bloom,
A field of colors,
A meadow on a hillside,
Wild and free,
Tended by sun and rain,
Gently painted by the will of the earth.

Another place of delight,
My garden blooms,
A blueprint from my heart,
Guided by my hand
Tended with love and affection
Planted according to my design.

G-d of splendor,
Grant me the willingness to plant gardens
And the wisdom to leave other gardens
To Your loving hand.
Teach me the beauty of doing
And glory not doing.
Grant me the power to act
And the strength to refrain.
Let my will to create,
And my willingness to accept,
Find balance and harmony
In my heart and in my hands,
So that my doing,
And my not doing,
Serve Your will
And Your world.

“Orchid, Cedar and Date Palm” and “This Prayer is a Tree” are © 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. “Tending Gardens” is © 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
Share the prayer! Email this to a friend.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Alden Solovy

Assembly

Posted on: September 3rd, 2020 by Alden No Comments

This prayer is the result of spending nearly two months studying the High Holidays machzor in preparation for teaching my “Mysteries of the Machzor” series. I’ve added references to the texts quoted from Leviticus, Numbers, and Jeremiah. I didn’t select the obvious source text for the second stanza, Exodus 19:6, because the verse from Leviticus adds another layer of meaning.

Assembly
When the children of Israel
Assemble before You
In holy convocation,
We assert the covenant,
The promises You made
To our ancestors.
We claim the right
To forgiveness.
.וַיֹּאמֶר ה’, סָלַחְתִּי כִּדְבָרֶךָ
Vayomer Adonai, selachti kidvarecha.
And Adonai said, ‘I forgive, as you have asked.’ (Num. 14:20)

When the children of Israel
Assemble before each other
In holy convocation,
We assert our kinship,
The solidarity we have
With our heritage.
We claim the responsibility
To be a nation of priests.
.וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם, קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ
V’amarta aleihem, kedoshim tihyu.
Say to them, you shall be holy. (Lev. 19:2)

When God’s love
And God’s mercy
Join our holy convocation,
In breaths,
In whispers
And in blasts of the shofar,
Holiness and forgiveness,
Repentance and love,
Become One.

:’כִּי כֹה אָמַר ה
.וִהְיִיתֶם לִי לְעָם, וְאָנֹכִי אֶהְיֶה לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים
Ki koh amar Adonnai:
V’hayitem li l’am, v’Anochi Ehyeh lechem laylohim.
For Adonai says:
And you shall be My people, and I will be your God. (Jer. 30:12,22)

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
Share the prayer! Email this to a friend.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

The Season of Dedication

Posted on: December 1st, 2018 by Alden No Comments

Hanukkah Menorah 1When the Maccabees finally won back the Temple for the Jewish people, it took eight days to clean and consecrate the holy space. Chanukah derives from the Hebrew verb “חנך‎”, meaning “to dedicate.” The Temple was rededicated to the service of Adonai the G-d of Israel. So we take this as a season of dedication for our own lives to the service of Torah and mitzvot, for the healing of the world. This prayer appears in my CCAR Press book, “This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.”

The Season of Dedication
This is the season of dedication:
Of dedicating our moments and our lives,
Of dedicating our hope and our strength,
To live by G-d’s Word.

This is the season of cleansing:
Of cleansing our hearts and our sanctuaries,
Of cleansing our deeds and our ways,
Creating sacred time and space.

This is the season of service:
Of service to our neighbors and community,
Of service to K’lal Yisrael,
In the name of justice and peace.

This is the season of dedication:
Of dedication to strength and honor,
Righteousness and duty.
This is the season that calls forth miracles,
That summons the light of holiness,
The season the reminds us to rebuild and restore
Our commitment to mitzvot and avodah
In G-d’s holy name.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

Postscript: This prayer is part of a series of prayers tied to various holidays and seasonal themes in the Jewish calendar, including: “The Season of Counting,” “The Season of Building” and “The Season of Healing.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my newest book, “This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings.” For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Credit: Jerusalem Baskets

Farewell Ushpizot, Ushpizin: Meditation Before Taking Down a Sukkah

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

Each year, we construct beautiful dwellings for Sukkot. We intentionally create temporary, holy spaces. We invite the presence of honored guests, the ushpizin, seven prophets, patriarchs and kings of old. We invite the ushpizot, seven women prophets named in the Talmud. Some include the matriarchs. Some invite men and women from history.

This meditation for taking down a sukkah is meant to slow down the process, briefly, so that we disassemble it with intention, inviting the holiness of the space that we created into our lives.

Farewell Ushpizot, Ushpizin
Farewell, Ushpizot.
Farewell, Ushpizin.
You have brought blessing and wisdom
To our sukkah – this tabernacle of joy –
As our honored guests.
Watch over us as we journey on.
Stay with us in our hearts.

Farewell, Ushpizot:
Sarah and Miriam,
Devorah and Hannah,
Avigail, Huldah and Esther.

Farewell, Ushpizin:
Abraham and Isaac,
Jacob and Joseph,
Moses, Aaron and David.

Farewell to all who have graced this space
With your warmth and friendship.

.למען אחי ורעי, אדברה-נא שלום בך
Lma-an achai vrei-ai, adab’rah na shalom bach.
For the sake of my companions and friends,
I will speak of peace. (Ps. 122:8)

Taking down this sukkah,
We take the holiness into ourselves,
Dreaming of a time
When G-d’s sukkat shalom
G-d’s tabernacle of peace –
Will cover the earth.

Taking down this sukkah,
We pledge to carry holiness,
Love and light,
Peace and thanksgiving,
Into our lives and into the world.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
Share the prayer! Email this to a friend.

Postscript: In using this meditation, adapt the names mentioned to those you invited into your sukkah. The meditation is my response to the unceremonious way that sukkot seem to be disassembled. What happens to the holiness created? Does it disparate? And what about our honored guests? We invite them in, but don’t have the courtesy to say farewell?

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: 6SqFt

Beauty Dances

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018 by Alden No Comments

sukkotOn Sukkot, joy and beauty arrive. We are called to bring that beauty into the world. This piece appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press. Here’s a link to more prayers and meditations for Sukkot.

Beauty Dances
Beauty dances
With us
Whenever we build
A tabernacle
To God’s holy Name.

Love sings
With us
Whenever we rejoice
In gladness
On God’s festive days.

Peace cries
With us
Whenever we yearn
In prayer
For God’s holy shelter.

Come,
Let us build this place,
This tabernacle where we praise,
With all of our hearts,
God’s pardon and promise.
Let us build this place,
Where we delight,
With thanksgiving and wonder,
In God’s bounty and gifts.

Come,
Let us build this place,
This sukkat shalom,
This shelter of peace,
Where beauty dances
And love sings.
Where peace cries out:
Build, build,
You Children of Israel,
A tent of holiness,
Strong and true.
Build it in your heart,
In your home,
In your life,
In God’s world.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

Postscript: This prayer first appeared on this site on Sept. 10, 2011. Find it in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
Share the prayer! Email this to a friend.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: The Toronto Centre

The Temple

Posted on: July 11th, 2017 by Alden No Comments

Today is the 17th of Tammuz, a minor fast day commemorating the breach in the outer walls of Jerusalem prior to the destruction of the Second Temple on Tisha b’Av. Today, the breach is not in the physical walls of the city, but in the spiritual hearts of our people. The Kotel isn’t a place where Jews can pray freely, according to our own diverse customs and practices. The Kotel is a hostage to ultra-Orthodox control. This prayer turns the tables: the Temple mourns our inability to hear God’s voice, the priests mourn a divided House of Israel and the sacrifices mourn those who’ve forgotten G-d’s sacred call.

The Temple
Do not mourn
For the Temple Mount.
The stones mourn for you.
They mourn for you who have forgotten
That God’s Voice
Can still be heard in the hills.
The stones mourn for you
Who have forgotten
That God’s Voice can still be heard in the valleys,
In the forests and deserts,
In the waters and skies.

Do not mourn
For the lost priests.
The tribes mourn for you.
They mourn for you who have forgotten
That God’s people are one.
Ephraim and Judah,
The Levites and the daughters of Zelophehad,
Ask why we still divide the House of Israel,
Why we still cast judgment,
Why we spurn each other with anger.
The tribes mourn for you who have
Forsaken your brothers
And rejected your sisters,
Closing your minds and hardening your hearts.

Do not mourn
For the lost sacrifices.
The yearling without blemish,
The ephah of fine flour and the hin of oil,
Mourn for you.
They mourn for you who have forgotten
That God requires your love and your power,
Your hope and your deeds.
The yearling, the flour and the oil mourn for you
Who have forgotten
That God wants the blood that flows through you,
The strength of your days,
Your song and your laughter,
Your wisdom and healing.

Tear your clothes
And sit in ashes
If you must.
Then, rise up!
Rise up and listen to God’s call:

Love My People Israel,
Love all of My People Israel.
Then, you will know the depth of My righteousness
And will drink from the well of My compassion.
Give them your heart.
Give them your days in service,
With joy and thanksgiving,
So that My Glory will dwell among you,
And that your days are long on this earth.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Instead of the phrase “Do not mourn for…,” I considered using “When you mourn for…” I ultimately decided to leave the introductory lines to each stanza as originally written, choosing to challenge our relationship to the Temple and to each other head on, without pulling the punch. Here’s a link to another prayer/metaphor that uses preparing to say the Shema as a dream/vision of the in-gathering of Jews to our land.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Alden Solovy

Inside the (Hanukkah) Light

Posted on: November 27th, 2013 by Alden No Comments

5235427938_eee362646b_zThis meditation carries an echo of Hanukkah. It’s about seeing, feeling and loving the light shining around us, and our yearning to be a source of light and hope for the world. Here’s the meditation set as a song by my friend Cantor Brad Hyman, as well as the article he wrote about it for Reform Judaism.org. This piece appears in This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer from CCAR Press.

Inside the Light
A rainbow shines
Inside the light.
If you could be the dew drop
You would always see it.

Stillness waits
Inside the light.
If you could be the sky
You would always feel it.

The sunrise dawns
Inside the light.
If you could be the horizon
You would always find it.

Freedom flows
Inside the light.
If you could be the wind
You would always ride it.

Beauty rises
Inside the light.
If you could be the sparrow
You would always reach it.

Mystery pulses
Inside the light.
If you could be the wonder
You would always know it.

Majesty reigns
Inside the light.
If you could be the wisdom
You would always hear it.

Faith rests
Inside the light.
If you could be the eagle
You would always hold it.

Your soul glows
Inside the light.
If you could be yourself
You would never leave it.

© 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer

Postscript: “Inside the Light” first appeared here on May 22, 2012, the day I arrived in Israel. I wrote it on the airplane from Chicago to Newark on my way to Israel to make aliyah. Cantor Brad Hyman set it to music in 2017 and it was published by CCAR Press four years later. Other Hanukkah prayers include: “Lamps Within” and “The Season of Dedication.”

Please check out my CCAR Press Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. The individual books are: This Grateful Heart, This Joyous Soul, and This Precious Life. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter. For a taste of my teaching, see my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer.”

Photo Source: Ron Almog

Lamps Within

Posted on: December 6th, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

Hanukkah Menorah 2This is a new meditation for Hanukkah about bringing the light we carry inside of ourselves into the world and lighting the lamps of awe and wonder in our children. This meditation appears in my CCAR Press book, “This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.” My friend Rabbi Karol wrote this beautiful melody for this prayer.

Lamps Within
A lamp glows inside your heart,
With eight ways to light it,
Eight ways to keep it shining,
Eight ways to keep its glow.

Light it with your joy.
Light it with your tears.
Light it with this song.
Light it with the works of your hands.
Light it with hope.
Light it with service.
Light it with this prayer.
Light it with praise to G-d’s Holy Name.

Bring the lamp of your soul out into the street
So that all who have forgotten
The miracles around us
Will remember the beauty within,
So that all who have forgotten
The miracles of old
Will remember to rejoice.

A lamp glows inside your children.
Keep it shining.
Watch it glow.

Light it with your joy.
Light it with your tears.
Light it with song.
Light it with the works of your hands.
Light it with hope.
Light it with service.
Light it with prayer.
Light it with praise to G-d’s Holy Name.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

Postscript: Here’s a link to another Hanukkah meditation, “The Season of Dedication.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Garden Delights Arts and Crafts

The Season of Dedication

Posted on: December 4th, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

Hanukkah Menorah 1When I was a boy the central miracle of Hanukkah didn’t impress me. One day’s worth of oil burned for eight days. A miracle, sure, but after everything G-d did for us in the desert, it didn’t seem so big of a miracle. I was more impressed with the desire of the Maccabees to preserve our faith, to rededicate the Temple, to restore it as a place of holiness. This prayer appears in my CCAR Press book, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.

The Season of Dedication
This is the season of dedication:
Of dedicating our moments and our lives,
Of dedicating our hope and our strength,
To live by G-d’s Word.

This is the season of cleansing:
Of cleansing our hearts and our sanctuaries,
Of cleansing our deeds and our ways,
Creating sacred time and space.

This is the season of service:
Of service to our neighbors and community,
Of service to K’lal Yisrael,
In the name of justice and peace.

This is the season of dedication:
Of dedication to strength and honor,
Righteousness and duty.
This is the season that calls forth miracles,
That summons the light of holiness,
The season the reminds us to rebuild and restore
Our commitment to mitzvot and avodah
In G-d’s holy name.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day by Alden Solovy

Postscript: Now that I am older, I am not so impressed with the Maccabees, either. They seem to be historic role models of sinat chinam. This prayer was first posted on Dec. 1, 2010. It is part of a series of prayers tied to various holidays and seasonal themes in the Jewish calendar, including: “The Season of Counting,” “The Season of Building” and “The Season of Healing.”

For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter. Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing.

Photo Credit: Jerusalem Baskets

“Alden has become one of Reform Judaism’s master poet-liturgists…" - Religion News Service, Dec. 23, 2020

“Mesmerizing, spiritual, provocative, and thoughtful, Alden was everything you would want in a guest scholar and teacher.” – Rabbi Denise L. Eger, Congregation Kol Ami, Los Angeles, and Past President, CCAR

"Alden Solovy has become one of the most revered liturgists of the last decade…" - Jewish Post & Opinion, March 29, 2023

“Alden left everyone feeling inspired.” – Cantor Jeri Robins, Shabbat Chair, NewCAJE6