Monday, August 24, 2015

Please share with anyone who might be interested!

Ecclesiastes - A Most Unusual Book
A New Class for Fall with Rabbi Avigail Nord

The book of Ecclesiates (Qohelth) is described by Biblical scholar Michael V. Fox as, “A strange and disquieting book. It gives voice to an experience not usually thought of as religious: the pain and frustration engendered by an unblinking gaze at life’s absurdities and injustices.[1]

We read Ecclesiates each year on Sukkot. It is the source of familiar texts, including the well-known lines, “To everything there is a season and time for every matter under heaven.” Yet many of us are not familiar with the challenging and thought-provoking subject matter of the book.

You are invited to join in an investigation of Ecclesiates. We will look at the origins of the book, its relation to the rest of the Bible, its fascinating philosophy, and how we might apply these ideas to the ups and downs of our daily lives.

What a great way to begin the New Year of 5776!

For more information, or to register, email Rabbi Gail at or call the Sharei Chesed Office at 763-545-8800

Class Dates: Wednesdays - September 30 through November 4
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Sharei Chesed Synagogue, 1712 Hopkins Crossroad, Minnetonka, MN 55305
Cost: $42/person for 6-week class (Session summaries will be recorded and available online for paid participants if you need to miss a week.)

[1] The JPS Bible Commentary—Ecclesiates, Jewish Publication Society, 2004

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

 From today's New York Times,  quoting from an editorial by Thomas Friedman:

Otto Scharmer, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who works with communities trapped in perpetual conflicts, defines the main features of the fundamentalist mind-set by its opposites: What is the opposite of an open mind? he asks. “You are stuck in one truth.” What is the opposite of an open heart? “You are stuck in one collective skin; everything is us-versus-them and, therefore, empathy for the other is impossible.” And what is the opposite of an open will? “You are enslaved to old intentions that originate in the past and not from the present, and so you cannot open up to any emerging new opportunities.”

Friedman's topic was political chaos in the Middle East, rooted in religious fundamentalism. However, I see this truth as applying equally to each of us personally. We can become stuck in one truth, defined by our past experiences. In doing so we close ourselves off from others, from new experiences, and from positive spiritual growth.

Getting "unstuck" in our minds, hearts, and spirits begins with honest self-examination. From self-examination comes self-awareness. From self-awareness comes openness all the wonders and mysteries of life!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I came across this today and found it so beautiful!

From Reverence for Life  by Dr. Albert Schweitzer - 1964.

"From childhood, I felt a compassion for animals. Even before I started
school, I found it impossible to understand why, in my evening prayers,
I should pray only for human beings. Consequently, after my mother
had prayed with me and had given me a good-night kiss, I secretly
recited another prayer, one I had composed myself. It went like this:

Dear God, protect and bless all living beings.
Keep them from evil and let them sleep in peace. AMEN"

Monday, April 13, 2015

Integrative Spirituality?

Over many years of studying spiritual traditions including Jewish Kabbalism, Christian Mysticism, Sufism, Jainism, and, Buddhism, I have eagerly sought the unifying factors woven throughout all traditions.

My goal - a grand unification theory of spirituality.

The guiding assumption of the quest - truth is truth. If a concept is true, it must be true across time, place, and tradition.

Many religious traditions make absolute truth claims, promoting their particular path as the one and only way to have a relationship with the Ultimate Reality, by whatever name and image the tradition uses for the divine.

Finding the truth has been, and is, a process of eliminating images, metaphors, myths, dogma, and seeing what's left . . .

A vast silence beyond silence. A radiant glow. A vibration.

Integrative spirituality is my term for that reality. A spirituality beyond images and dogma; a spirituality that unites rather than divides. A spirituality that can be shared by all, and even woven into one's one tradition (this may require a willingness to let go of  divisive teachings which promote religious exclusivity). Obviously, this is not a path which will be comfortable for all people.

If you are open-minded, desiring to grow spirituality, and willing to let go of old models, climb aboard! We'll journey together . . .