September 2018
Rabbi Lisa Goldstein
Rachel's Legacy of Connection
It is hard to believe that we are almost at the shloshim , the 30-day initial mourning period, for Rachel Cowan, who peacefully left this world at the end of August. For me, it has been a month of deep sadness and a sense of confusion: even though we all knew this day would come, how can it be that Rachel is no longer among us with her warm laugh, her compassionate ear, her wise teachings?

Another one of Rachel's enduring legacies is the network of people she wove around her. I came to understand this in a bittersweet way. When I received the news of Rachel's death, I was just starting a silent meditation retreat myself. It was immediately obvious that my place at that moment was not to be sitting in contemplation in a monastery. It was to be with my people, with Rachel's people, to reach out, to connect, to hug, to comfort, to weep. 


Practices in this Letter
Rabbi Jonathan Slater
Rabbi Nancy Flam
Rabbi Marc Margolius
Rabbi Sam Feinsmith
Tefilah  (prayer) =  Davenen  = Connection!
Rabbi Jonathan Slater
One goal of Jewish prayer is connection: to connect internally to our awareness of what is true, and to hold that honestly before our hearts; to connect with the world, which needs our efforts for its wholeness and fulfillment; to connect with God, to find our place in the world.

Connector of Heaven and Earth
Rabbi Nancy Flam
Rabbi Rachel Cowan was a connector. She loved connecting people that she thought should meet each other. Many, many life-giving projects and friendships blossomed from those meetings.  At the close of the very first Rabbinic Leadership Training cohort in 2001, we got t-shirts made for the core faculty and for Rachel, who was instrumental in the creation of the Institute. We thought of short, individual sayings to put on the back of the t-shirts. Sylvia Boorstein’s said “The BeSHT of Meditation Teachers.” Arthur Green’s said “Textual Pearl Diver” (because he came up to the surface of the sea of Hasidic texts with the very best ones). And Rachel’s said, “Connector of Heaven and Earth.” 

Connected to Everything by Ahavah/Love
Rabbi Marc Margolius
In morning Jewish prayer practice, as we prepare to chant the Shema , proclaiming the Oneness of God, we traditionally gather the tzitzit (knotted fringes) on the four corners of our tallit (prayer shawl), bind them into one in our hand, and chant the words “ v'haveinu l'shalom mei-arba kanfot ha'aretz – bring us towards wholeness/integration from the four corners of the earth.”  


Getting "Stuck" in Jewish Spiritual Practice
Rabbi Sam Feinsmith
Rabbi Elimelekh of Lizhensk, one of the great third-generation Hasidic masters, related that when he was young he wanted to repair the world. As he grew older, he set his sights on repairing his country. Later on, he sought to repair his village, and then his family. As an old man he adopted a much more modest goal: “Now I am trying to repair myself.”

Stay connected with the latest IJS news - follow us on Facebook today!