A joyous community of Jewish women e ngaged in
prayer, study and spiritual growth  

November 2015
"If Only" Changes to "Yes"
November is a time to think about the gratitude and blessings that are in our lives.
Too often we focus on what is NOT going right. "If only my computer worked better.
If only my body wasn't so filled with aches and pains. If only I had more attention and love  from my partner and my kids. If only there was more money in my bank account.  If only..."
 
This time of year we shift our "if only" mantra. We stop it in its track.  No, I do not have the money I want, but wow, there is enough to buy food and pay rent.  No, I don't get the love I want, but yes, my teenager sent a text just to say hello.  No, I don't weigh what I want, but yes, I can walk and get around and try to get into better shape.
 
Thanksgiving is changing "if only" to YES.  See what you can change this month AND 
join us at Lev Eisha, where you will be inspired to do so!

Shabbat Services will be held on Saturday, November 7 at 9:30 am, led by Rabbi August and Cantorial Soloist Cindy Paley.  Readings are from the book of  Bereshit.

Be sure to stay for a delicious kiddush luncheon, sponsored by  Sandy Terranova, who is celebrating her 36th wedding anniversary and the birthday of her husband, Roland, and  by Helen Budin in honor of the marriage of her first grandchild, Darien Hakmian, to Lisa Khakshouri. Thank you to the Nosh donors who contributed towards our kiddush lunch.

In This Issue
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We Are Thankful for our Members and Donors

We welcome the many new and renewing members this month. Forgot to sign up?  You can renew your Lev membership online - click HERE.  Or pick up a paper membership packet after services on Saturday.

We are grateful to the following members who renewed for another wonderful year of Lev:

Barbara Axelband,  Gail Barton,  Fran Bogotch,
JoBeth Cohen,  Pearl Councelbaum,  Gail Heim,
Bonnie Leopold,  Shayna Lester,  Janice Ruben Friedland,
Sandy Terranova,  Sue Urfrig,  Nancy Weiss,  Holly Zucker.

Our generous donors this month are:
Toni Glick, in memory of Marla Osband.
Stan and Sheila Weinberg, in memory of Marla Osband. 
A Prayer for Thanksgiving

A Prayer for the Thanksgiving Feast
For the laughter of the children,
For my own life breath,
For the abundance of food on this table,
For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast,
For the roof over our heads,
The clothes on our backs,
For our health,
And our wealth of blessings,
For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends,
For the freedom to pray these words
Without fear,
In any language,
In any faith,
In this great country,
Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants.

Thank You, God, for giving us all these.

(©2002 by Naomi Levy in Talking to God)
Welcome to Our Newest Lev Eisha Member
We give a heartfelt welcome to Lyanna Hannah,  born October 10, 2015, to proud parents Rachelle Neshkes & Aaron Rosenfield.  She weighed in at 6 lbs. 12 oz.  and 19 inches.
MAZEL TOV to Grandma Pam and the entire Neshkes/Rosenfield family!
  
  
Our Day of Learning - What a Day It Was!
On October 18, thirty three women began early in the morning to gather at the beautiful Holy Spirit Retreat Center in Encino for the first Day of Learning presented by Lev Eisha. We travelled from a session on Mindfulness (be here now) to Mussar (examining our personal characteristic of Loving Kindness); to lunch, to a joyful (sometimes raucous) session of story and music and then to the marvelous teaching of Rabbi Toba on Ecclesiastes, "A Time for Everything"; to wine and schmooze, dinner and then, as the sun set, a warm and loving closing circle.  Whew, we floated home. Until our week-end on March 25-27, 2016 at Brandeis Bardin...

Submitted by Linda Zweig


Holly Zucker captured the day beautifully in the piece she wrote below.

"May you be blessed under the wings of Shechinah, be blessed with love, be blessed with peace." This Debbie Friedman song kept popping into my head all day yesterday at the Retreat. Shechinah is often known as the divine feminine presence and yesterday was all about the "power of the feminine."
There were so many ways that the feminine power was on display yesterday and here are some of the examples that I saw.
  • The power of Cindy singing a beautiful Yiddish song that made my mother weep, bringing back a long lost memory from her childhood of her father singing to her in Yiddish.
  • The power to bring complete strangers together in a meaningful and comforting embrace over shared pain.
  • The power of Rabbi August to share a teaching about Kohelet that helped to heal our grieving community, over the loss of our wonderful Marla.
  • The power of Loretta's story of smiling at a stranger in the supermarket line and helping her unpack her groceries that caused a total stranger to say," I was having a terrible day but your smile and kindness just changed that" and then proceeded to give Loretta a big hug. What a great example of chesed. 
  • The power to spread a huge blanket of love and comfort over a group of women and make them feel like they belong and have support, community, and friendship.
What an awesome day. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

Turkey - A Bird from Turkey or From India?
by Rabbi August
Wh ere does the name for the bird we eat, the "turkey," originate from?
The English name comes from an incorrect identification of the bird with an African guinea fowl which entered Europe through the trade route of Turkey. The birds were called "birds from Turkey" and later simply "turkey" for short. In Turkey, however, the birds are called, "Hindi" - short for "birds from India."
 
To explain how this happened, let's first go to the Hebrew language. Many of you know that the Hebrew verb for giving thanks is hodu. As part of our prayers we say: Hodu L'Adonai Ki Tov - Give Thanks to God for God is good. As a noun, however, the word hodu actually means the bird called 'turkey."  How did this come about?
 
In ancient Hebrew, hodu is the Hebrew word for India. This word only appears twice in the Jewish Bible, in the book of Esther, when it says the Persian Empire stretched from 'Hodu to Kush' (India to Ethiopia). Fast forward to the 15th century; the Spanish arrive in the New World mistakenly believing they found an alternative route to India. They even dub the natives "Indians."  Therefore, in Turkey the bird is called Hindi, short for "bird from India."  And in English, a turkey was the "bird from Turkey."  Go figure.
 
It gets more complicated, but carries a powerful message, when we continue with the Hebrew name for this bird. The new chicken-like bird discovered in North America becomes known in Hebrew as Tarnegol Hodu, "Indian Chicken," or just hodu for short. 
The noun hodu, meaning the bird we call a turkey, is related - by sound only - to the verb of hodu, which means 'giving thanks.' 

The Modern Hebrew name for Thanksgiving is Chag Ha-Hodayah, literally "Holiday of Thanking." This name sounds like it is connected to hodu, the Hebrew word for turkey. Without being grammatically accurate we could say: We eat hodu (turkey) on Chag Ha-Hodayah (Thanksgiving) to remind us to give Todah (thanks) to God.

Through the strange development of language, we have the connection in our Jewish tradition of giving thanks and eating turkey on the holiday of Thanksgiving. Although an interesting connection, it is also troubling and disheartening to think about giving thanks when we know the true story of the origins of Thanksgiving. If you look on the internet, Thanksgiving is called a "Native American Genocide Day."  Though historically there was one meal with the Pilgrims, a Native American called Squanto and the chief and some people from the Wampanoag tribe, the "feast of Thanksgiving" in 1621 actually celebrated what happened after the meal and the signing of a peace treaty. In 1627, the native Pequot tribe, while rejoicing at an annual corn festival, were slaughtered by the colonists and the governor of Massachusetts declared a "day of thanksgiving" celebrating the killing of "heathen savages."  As we know, our European ancestors and their relationship with the Native Americans only worsened and remains tragic and complicated today.
 
Knowing the history, how is it still possible to celebrate today's holiday? One answer is to continue with American history. In 1863, right after his poignant Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln needed a "wave of patriotism" to bring the battered nation together. He declared a Thursday in November officially a day of "thanksgiving," acknowledging the pyrrhic victory of Gettysburg and the awareness of the brutality and extraordinary losses that led to this occasion.
        
Today's holiday is more about the end to our Civil War and the desire for peace and reconciliation than it is about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. I believe the holiday of Thanksgiving can be taught and discussed at our family meals as a corrective - a tikkun - a moral fixing to both events in our history: the genocidal conquest of America, and the painful Civil War.
        
First, we can say that although there were attempts by some righteous people to befriend the Native Americans, the good will quickly evaporated and chauvinism and barbarism became the rule of the day. The questions to discuss are why do some groups of people feel superior to other groups and whether any of us have these lingering feelings. Meaningful and engaging discussions will ensue!
        
Second, the connection of turkey and giving thanks in the Hebrew language is also a corrective. With so much insecurity, violence and despair in our world, how do we nurture thankfulness and gratitude? We ask our family and friends to share the ways they find joy and thankfulness when life can be challenging.
        
Lastly, before we eat we can add on to the traditional Motzi Lechem, the prayer found elsewhere in this month's newsletter, or other poems or prayers. I bless us all with a meaningful and healthy holiday.



Lev Eisha
2015-16 Calendar
 
Breakfast & Study at 8:15am - 9:25am
Services: 9:30am-12:00pm 
Kiddush immediately following services  
November 7 
December 5* 
January 9, 2016 
February 6* 
March 5*
March 25-27 Dancing With My Soul  (weekend retreat) 
April 2 
May 7* 
June 4

 *Breakfast before services 
Our Resident Poet

An offering from Sarah Barash, our resident poet, who says she "wishes I
could be there in person to both participate and inundate myself in our services."


  
like honey to the ear
 
God when we laugh
does a holy vibration reach to the heavenly hosts
what do You hear
does laughter like a pebble thrown into still water radiate outward
does joy in abundance precipitate love
or is it love in abundance that precipitates joy
does it matter
fill us with laughter enough to last a lifetime
esteem enough to share our love
and wisdom enough to embrace the gift
so that in tune with life's music
we will dance
 we will sing
we will become one with the laughter that You so love
 
* * * * *
for rhys max, aaron harry, louise rose, and eli harry
Los Angeles, July 2011
 

Milestones 
Mazel Tov to the following November birthdays: Carole Easton,  Deena Goldenberg Gordon, Sherrill Kushner, Debra Michels, Susie Yure´.

If you have a November birthday, why aren't we acknowledging it?  Because you haven't told us!  Come on, let us know, share your simcha!

I f you have a milestone to share please send it to Rose Ziff at
editor@leveisha.org.  Birthdays, weddings, graduations, Bat or Bar Mitzvot, births, special awards/honors, and exotic vacations are some of the simchas that are fun to share with our community. 

This is also the place to ask our community to join you in prayers of healing for those who are ill or in memory of those who have passed away. 
Map & Directions
Lev Eisha Shabbat Services are held at Vista Del Mar  
3200 Motor Ave., Los Angeles 90034

Click on the map for directions.
 

Welcome to Lev Eisha, a spiritual prayer service by and for women.  B'ruchot Ha'baot - we invite you to join us with great blessing.  We provide a joyous environment with opportunities for soulful prayer, energetic song and dance, deep Jewish study, and meditation.  Each person, in their own way, finds what they need for their personal and spiritual growth at Lev Eisha.

  

What makes our community so unique? The answer is reflected in our name. "Lev" means heart, and "Eisha" means woman.  When women come together with open hearts, we figuratively hold each others' hearts in profound acceptance, understanding and love.

  

Join us and support Lev Eisha. By attending you are giving yourself the greatest gift; time for yourself, a "spiritual fix" to keep you balanced and centered for the month. Lev Eisha will transform your Jewish  soul.