October 2018
Rabbi Lisa Goldstein
Threefold Path of Action
Even before the horrific massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this past Shabbat, it was easy to feel overwhelmed by the state of the world. The forces at play are so huge and the stakes are so high. How do we muster the courage to act? How do we even discern what actions to take?

Following the teaching of Joanna Macy, we might consider three different paths: holding and taking care of those who urgently need our care; developing new life-sustaining structures for a better world; and cultivating a shift in consciousness, the ability to deeply take in and know how profoundly interconnected we all are.

These three paths themselves are interconnected, of course, and there is extraordinary work happening in all three areas. The goal of IJS's teaching is rooted in the third path. Our practices, whether they are meditation, prayer, text study, middot work or body awareness, are all for the sake of opening our eyes to the underlying unity that is the hidden fabric of the universe.

We wish the very best for Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, who will be leaving IJS at the end of November to become the Executive Director at Camp Ramah in Toronto. It is a wonderful opportunity for Jordan and it is a great loss for us. We know from our practice that everything changes, that there is a time for arriving and a time for departing, and that love is stronger than separation. So please join us in sending blessings to Jordan and telling him how much he will be missed.
Practices in this Letter
Rabbi Marc Margolius
Or Mars
Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg
Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell
Nevertheless We Persist: Mindfully Practicing the Middah of Zerizut
Rabbi Jonathan Slater
The kabbalistic sephirah of Netzach (“endurance”) represents Divine energy flowing towards sacred purpose. As human beings, we manifest this flow of energy within us by practicing the middah (spiritual/ethical trait) of zerizut : prompt, energetic response. The Ba’al Shem Tov taught that since we human beings are formed in the Divine Image, “everything we do should be with energy and dedication ( b’zerizut ), since in every act we are able to serve God.”

Webinar: Mindful Jewish Leadership
Or Mars
As professional and volunteer Jewish leaders one of our most important leadership tools is mindfulness. The qualities that emerge from our practice and tradition can deepen our leadership effectiveness in our organizations and communal institutions. Together we will explore these qualities and use our practice to hone them.

Showing Up for Our Fellow Beings, and Ourselves
Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg
It may sound trivial, but these days, the simple act of returning a lost object to a stranger brings me joy. This week, when my neighbor’s Amazon delivery mistakenly came to my door and when I returned a wallet I saw fall from the bag of a passerby on the sidewalk, I felt a sweet warmth in my body, and a smile found its way to my face. It felt so easy to be generous in those moments, and that ease led to some real happiness. When hatred rears up on a national and global scale, in acts of intimidation and terror, small acts of kindness remind me that the natural compassion of the mind and heart is still with us humans. I still have chesed inside of me, which means that others must have it too.

Mindful Action: The Result of Our Practice
Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell
In its ideal form, our spiritual practice culminates in mindful, real action in the world. This approach builds upon a source in the Talmud (Menachot 43b): "Looking upon leads to remembrance, remembrance leads to action." Our action flows from mindful, honest looking as well as an intentional process of integrating our ideals and wisdom into this mindful looking. This can help us reframe how we see what we see and ultimately act in a way that is maximally effective, wise and compassionate.
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