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Prayer Thoughts from a Rabbi Mom on her son’s prayer book dedication sticker…

06/21/2018 09:59:19 AM


Prayer is …

More than the words in this book,

though these words will guide you, and teach you,

if you let them.

Prayer is …

Time out of time — to notice

in the silence, in the distracting thoughts, in the still small voice within,

Change and stillness,

Knowing, and heartbreak

Remorse and forgiveness

Hope and resolve

Gratitude and compassion

Prayer is not …

a spectator sport.

It is not passive,

though it can be effortless.

The recitation of words can be rote, thoughtless and unconscious –

or it can be Practice — inscribing words on your heart.

Sometimes, a phrase suddenly jumps out of the stream and glimmers in new light.

This happens especially, as you learn to understand Hebrew.

[Oy, and then there are more challenges — when the Hebrew is not just a                                 meaningless mantra, and the words are not ones you would choose to say –                         curses on enemies, songs of victory, endless strings of lavish praise upon a                           God you don’t believe requires or desires those particular phrases                                           — that kind of thing.

Don’t get confused.  Still you can pray in your own words, or in silence.

Just keep rising, level after level.]


Be careful not to dismiss, judge, or otherwise miss the value of where you are and what has been given to you from your people.

Be careful not to become spiritually complacent, arrogant, stubborn, stuck.

Don’t give up when it’s hard.

Music is important.

Singing with others together,

lifting voices,

generating joy,


holding silence,

finding harmonies,

creating beautiful sound.

Words are important.

Moving the heart.

Teaching across time and generations.

Silence is important.

Making space to listen, to receive.

Prayer is…

interactive and solitary

Paradoxical — Revolutionary

Prayer is a gift you give to your soul.


From Rabbi Katie on Israel’s 70th anniversary

04/18/2018 03:41:17 PM


What should a rabbi say as we greet Israel’s 70th birthday this week? Some will stay silent because it’s too divisive to speak about the topic at all. Some may toe the line of one narrative or another -- Praise for a Modern Miracle!, or Condemnation of a so-called Apartheid State. To me, neither of these approaches is complicated or careful enough to be true to the place I know and what it means to the Jewish and Palestinian people. It’s a tough time to find hope for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine. Heck -- it’s a hard time to find hope for the future of Democracy, even in our own United States! And yet, if you go beyond headlines and start meeting real people, you cannot deny the tremendous goodness and resilience you find, face by face, conversation after conversation. I have not given up hope for either the US or Israel to transform for the good in my lifetime. I do not believe it will be easy, but I owe it to my children and their children to try really hard. And I also owe it to them here and now to remember gratitude and joy and to stop the dark hard push for justice from time to time and to revel in the freedoms and abundance we do have now, to celebrate what we can, even while we commit to spreading that abundance to others.

I hope that you will join me in exploring Israel and Palestine in the years ahead. Next year we will be creating many opportunities to learn about this complicated place with depth and nuance and in June of 2019, we will be taking our first ever Or Shalom trip to Israel and Palestine! There is no better way to understand a place or to find hope about its future than to go in person and meet the real people who are doing good work there. I hope that you will hold the second half of June 2019 on your calendars and come to our informational meeting Wednesday evening May 23rd to learn more about our trip. In the meantime, I offer some words that I found inspiring from my friend and colleague, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, who sent this message on behalf of Rabbis for Human Rights this week…


From Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman writing on behalf of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel

I write this on the eve of Israel’s 70th birthday. This is super-charged period in the Israeli calendar. Days after Passover we observe Yom Ha-shoah Ve-ha-Gevura (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and a week later Yom Ha-Zikaron (Memorial Day) for our fallen soldiers and victims of terror. Then it is a breathtaking turn around to Yom Ha-Atzmaut (Israeli Memorial Day).

So much of the national ethos is captured by having these days of memorial lead up to Independence Day. It reinforces the precarious nature of our national identity.
interwoven with a terrible sense of victimhood and sacrifice. It should be no surprise that we Israelis are a little crazy. We live with a constant sense of power and powerlessness. On Yom Ha-Atzmaut I celebrate, and I invite you to celebrate, the messy miracle we call Israel. Yes, it is a miracle. Who could have imagined that a little more than seventy years after the Holocaust the greatest challenge facing the Jewish people would be how to handle the enormous military power we possess? Oy! We make so many mistakes- but I would not prefer the alternative of being powerless.

It sounds strange but I believe that to choose powerlessness would be immoral in its own way.
So on Yom 
I will celebrate this wonderful, complicated, tragic, exhilarating and messy miracle – the State of Israel. None of these complications absolve us of the responsibility for making this the most moral and just Jewish state possible. … to continue to teach our young people the connection between human rights and Judaism, to pursue justice for the poor and marginalized among us, and to protect the rights of the most vulnerable peoples in our midst, including Palestinians who continue to live under military occupation. We will not apologize for the need for a national Jewish homeland, nor we will we shirk from trying to make it worthy of the most enlightened and holy Jewish values.



OS Blog

03/20/2018 04:48:48 PM


Welcome to the Or Shalom Blog!  We have so many wonderful things on the horizon, starting with Rabbi Katie's Mussar Series - a 7 week class on your 'soul curriculum'.   After that we have our Community Seder, our Member Meeting and Retreat.  

The office is very excited to bring the full power of Shulcloud to its members.  With it, you have full access to your member account and payments.  Please take some time to update your contact information or other details.  Coming soon will be an Or Shalom App which will allow you to access the calendar, membership directory and other features directly from your phone.  

As always, let the office know if there is anything you need.



Administrator, Or Shalom


Wed, August 15 2018 4 Elul 5778