My Kaddish for Black Lives and All Victims of Gun violence

I was really touched and humbled by the attention that my prayer has gotten that I decided to re-record it in my recording studio AKA my dining room and with an iPad. In the previous version of this Kaddish it was dark and I used my travel guitar. This time it’s daylight and I’m using a full size guitar.

I wrote this version of Mourners Kaddish for all who have been killed by gun violence, for all unarmed people who have lost their lives at the hands of police and for people who have no one to say kaddish for them and please remember Black Lives Matter.


Yitgadal v’yit-kadash sh’mei rabba
B’allma dee v’ra chir’utei

Dear God lift me up in my time of need
Please show me how to live and love in peace
I want to live in a world full of hope
But it’s hard when there is so pain

v’yamlich malchutei,
B’chayeichon, uv’yomeichon,
uv’chayei d’chol beit yisrael,
Ba’agala u’vizman kariv, v’imru, Amen

Adonai, Adonai I praise your holy name
Turn my sorrow turn my pain and show me the way
Adonai, Adonai we bless your name
So that One day may there be peace for us all

Oseh shalom bim’ro’mav,
hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu,
v’al kol yisrael v’imru, Amen

Misheberach/HaKadosh Baruchu

My summer of music continues. I’ve been expressing myself more with music these days and finding inspiration in Jewish prayers and text to express my frustration with all of the violence in the world. I find myself in a unique position of learning to be a rabbi, learning what it means to be a leader in the Jewish community, and feeling like an outsider in the Jewish community, because no matter what I do, I am often not seen as Jewish or somehow seen as less than Jewish. And many of the Jews closest to me whom I love dearly will never understand what it is like to be a black women/person in America and turn on the television, Twitter, Facebook, etc and see people that look like me being killed. I feel broken and often feel hopeless, so what do I do…I pick up a guitar which seems to help.

MIsheberach Avoteinu
Misheberach I’moteinu
Please bless those in need of healing
HaKadosh Baruchu

May the one who Blessed our Mothers
who Blessed our Fathers
We need you to hear our cry
HaKadosh Baruchu

The God of Wholeness
The God of Wonder
Please teach me and give me strength
HaKadosh Baruchu

El Shaddai Adonai
I need you to heal the world
And make it right

I want to live in a world full of song and hope
Where my children can play and not have to cope
Please bless us and give us healing
HaKadosh, HaKadosh, HaKadosh
HaKadosh Baruchu

Kaddish

I wrote this version of Mourners Kaddish for all who have been killed by gun violence, for all unarmed people who have lost their lives at the hands of police and for people who have no one to say kaddish for them and please remember Black Lives Matter.

 

 

Yitgadal v’yit-kadash sh’mei rabba
B’allma dee v’ra chir’utei

Dear God lift me up in my time of need
Please show me how to live and love in peace
I want to live in a world full of hope
But it’s hard when there is so pain

v’yamlich malchutei,
B’chayeichon, uv’yomeichon,
uv’chayei d’chol beit yisrael,
Ba’agala u’vizman kariv, v’imru, Amen

Adonai, Adonai I praise your holy name
Turn my sorrow turn my pain and show me the way
Adonai, Adonai we bless your name
So that One day may there be peace for us all

Oseh shalom bim’ro’mav,
hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu,
v’al kol yisrael v’imru, Amen

My Prayer for Ferguson

Kim Weimer/Staff Photographer Bucks County Courier Times

Kim Weimer/Staff Photographer Bucks County Courier Times

Help us to lie down, Dear Lord our God, in peace, and let us rise again, to life…

This summer, I heard that a young black man had been killed by a police officer. The sad thing is that I tuned the story out. I was too caught up in whatever I was doing to notice that another unarmed black man had been killed by a police officer. I kept seeing the name Ferguson flash across my Twitter feed and my Facebook page, and I assumed that the name of the individual who was killed was Ferguson. Then I noticed that the individual’s name was Michael Brown and the shooting happened in a place that I know too well. It happened in Ferguson, Missouri.

Spread over us the shelter of Your peace…

From the ages of five through twelve I lived on the border of Berkeley and Ferguson. I spent a lot of time in Ferguson hanging with my friends Jill and Stacey. I remember swimming in January-Wabash park, bike riding adventures where the plan was to get lost and struggle to find our way home,  and spending my allowance on arcade games. I moved away when I was twelve and I was devastated–I loved my life and I loved my friends.  At the age of seventeen I moved back to the area and reconnected with my friends but it wasn’t the same.

and inspire us with Your good counsel…

Sadly, until recently I hadn’t given much thought to that part of my life. When I learned what happened to Michael Brown and where the shooting took place all of those memories of my childhood came flooding back. I immediately started reading as much information as I could find on what happened. A frightening feeling came over me and I realized that Michael Brown could easily have been the son of someone I went to school with. I reached out to friends and I talked with my parents.

and save us for the sake of Your name…

The recent events in Ferguson have brought a lot of attention to the issues of race in our society. Every single person of color in my life, including me, has had a moment of either being followed around in a store because of the perception that we might shoplift, or a moment of someone being afraid of us on the street or in an elevator. Once, when I walked into a sauna, and a white woman with a terrified look on her face yelled for me to get out because she assumed I was a black man. We live in a culture where we are bombarded by images that depict black men as threats. We live in a society that has become more segregated, not necessarily because of laws, but because of class and choices.  It’s an indescribable feeling to see a place I loved as a child, and hated to leave, on the national news with scenes that invoke in me images of Bull Connor’s attempt to control massive amounts of young black protesters with attack dogs and fire hoses. But today, instead of dogs, it’s tear gas and weapons used for war.

and shield us in the wings of Your protection,  

I live in two worlds. I am Jewish and I am black, and I am calling out to the Jewish community to please take notice of these past events, not just the events in Ferguson but the number of black men and people of color in our society who are stopped by police, arrested by police and even killed by police. Many in the Jewish community believe that these issues do not concern us, but they do. American Jews are now more racially diverse than ever. Every Shabbat many of us sit next to a Jews of color in our synagogues. Many of us have children of color, many of us have people of color in our families and many of us are black. We as a Jewish community can no longer say these issues do not concern us.

Guard our going out and our coming in, for life and peace, now and forever

As American Jews we know the history of injustice. We cannot sit by and let injustice happen because we know that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We are commanded to not harden our hearts or shut our hand against our brothers or sisters who are in need.  These men who have died are part of us; they are our brothers. The people protesting in the streets of Ferguson are our brothers and sisters. They are part of us and part of our community. We must speak out to stop racial profiling and we must rid ourselves of the myth that what happens in Ferguson or on the streets of our own cities, doesn’t affect us.

Blessed are You Compassionate One, who spreads your canopy of peace over all Your people Israel, over Jerusalem and over the entire world.

Thank you T’ruah for letting me use my voice. Also, T’ruah responds to the Michael Brown grand jury verdict

Thank you Bucks County Courier Times for the Photo

Shacharit and weight training. Finding creative ways to daven.

I have generally believed in the concept of mind, body and spirit; and when the three are connected life is pretty good. This year I have been challenged around the concept of prayer. My main problem was, how to fit it in, so I didn’t. It bothered me that I did not have a spiritual practice. After a discussion with my spiritual director she reminded me that I do indeed have a spiritual practice.

My main spiritual practice has always been fitness: lifting weights, biking, running, walking, etc. I lift weights at least four times a week and bike to school almost everyday. This is my spiritual practice. With that said it started to become more important to me to incorporate traditional davening into my life.

Today, I incorporated Shacharit into my weight training routine and I have said modeh ani, the morning blessings and the Shema while biking to school. By incorporating prayer into my fitness routine I can make time; time to thank God, and time for self reflection. Like many people in today’s society, I have a crazy busy schedule and it is hard to find time for traditional davenning. By incorporating prayer into my fitness routine I can make time.

Today, Jews need to find creative ways to pray. We need to be freed from our traditional concepts of connecting with the Divine. The harder we make prayer for people, then they won’t do it. I’m curious to know what other people do? How do you fit it in? Have you also found creative ways to pray and connect with the Divine?

Pray

Master of the Universe, grant me the ability to be alone;
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
Among the trees and grass—among all growing things
And there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, to talk with
the One to whom I belong.
May I express there everything in my heart,
And may all the foliage of the field – all grasses trees and plants –
Awake at my coming, to send the powers of their life into
the words of my prayer
So that my prayer and speech are made whole
Through the life and spirit of all growing things,
Which are made as one by their transcendent Source.
May I then pour out the words of my heart
Before your Presence like water, O Source of All,
And lift up my hands to You in worship, on my behalf, and
that of my children.
​Reb Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810)

The Morning Blessing-Modeh/Modah Ani

This was actually written in February 2010 (before Rav School) and featured at another online location aka Facebook, so I thought I would also posted here.

Jewish tradition states that Jews pray three times a day and recite 100 Berachot (blessings) a day; that’s a lot of praying. Actually it’s not that hard if you do all of the prescribed prayers plus do all of the blessings for just everyday occurrences such as food, washing hands, hearing good news, hearing bad news…etc etc.

For me, this presents a challenge; can you imagine going from a zero prayer practice (except in shul) to praying 100 times a day? Impossible. So I’ve decided to start off small and just focus on one prayer at a time. I will probably never be so observant to prayer 100 times a day but I do hope that by adding a prayer practice into my life I will feel more connected to the larger world around me, be thankful for life’s blessings and hopefully feel more connected to G-d.
I’m a morning person and so I’ve decided to start with the the morning blessing of

Modeh/Modah Ani:
מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה, רבה אמונתך.
Modeh/Modah ani lifanecha melech chai v’kayam shehechezarta bi nishmahti b’chemlah, rabah emunatecha.

I offer thanks to You, living and eternal king, for You have restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

Modeh/Modah is said immediately upon rising before we get out of bed and should be the first words we utter every morning. When we recite Modeh/Modah Ani we are essentially thanking G-d for giving us another day. We wake up grateful instead of thinking about what may have happened the previous day and our first conscious thoughts are spent expressing, “thank you.” As someone who has had a rough time these last few months it’s nice to wake up and kind of remind myself to be thankful instead of thinking about the stuff that weighs me down. Basically if we wake up with a sentiment of gratitude, we feel grateful, and we can continue with a more positive day; if we don’t then we won’t.