Monday, September 16, 2013

My New Year Resolution: Reactivate Compassion In Judaism

Stephanie and Rabbi Margaret. Photo taken by Herb Gross.
After an almost 1-year hiatus, I am excited to report that I will be blogging again for this Compassion In Judaism blog site. After leading High Holiday services at Congregation Kneseth Israel as the cantorial soloist with Rabbi Margaret Frisch-Klein, I am rejuvinated, recharged, and ready to reactivate this blog. I hope you find meaning in the posts and discussions we will have hear, and I hope that you will add your own voice to the dialogue.


Stephanie Burak Fehlenberg

In lieu of a post today, I will share with you an excerpt from a guest post I wrote for Rabbi Margaret's blog, The Energizer Rabbi:

Digging deep into Avinu Malkeinu and finding our role in the mix

Just this evening (Wednesday September 11, 2013, less than 48 hours from Kol Nidre service), as I was waiting for the Rabbi so we could practice for Kol Nidre services, I was asked to fill in at a moment’s notice and teach Avinu Malkeinu to a group of Beit Sefer students. As a teacher and someone who is always in pursuit of “kavanah” (“meaning”), I like to make sure that my students don’t just practice how to pray but also learn the meaning of the prayers. As I was explaining the meaning of Avinu Malkeinu word for word, I discovered something I hadn’t noticed before; we say “Asei imanu tzedakah v’chesed” which I translate to “create with us justice and kindness”. This is a literal translation, and I think most people would translate it to “grant us justice and kindness.” However, I like to emphasize the “Asei imanu” which literally means “make with us” or “create with us”, indicating that we are not just passively hoping God will bring justice and goodness into our lives. Rather, God will serve as our facilitator or guide, as we play an active role in creating justice and kindness for ourselves and others.

Sometimes, I think that when we as Jews get caught up in the traditions and rules, we can forget the heart of what it means to be God’s People. God created us and all humankind “b’tselem elohim” (“in His image”). As such, we were created to be like God.

Read the complete blog entry entitled, "Tishri 9: Three Good Deeds, Compassion, A Cantorial Soloist and Her Dad."

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