Monday, December 22, 2014

Hanukkah 5775 - Night 7 Re-Dedication Meditation

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

On this penultimate night of Hanukkah, we light seven candles, we continue the “Litany of Harm” and the “Call to Action,” and we consider a seventh way to strengthen our resolve to change the world in positive ways. 

Hanukkah Night 7:
The Litany of Harm:
For all those in island nations, where rising sea levels and superstorms threaten their very existence. We stand in witness!
For all coastal cities and villages, where storm swells and flooding put lives and homes at risk. We stand in witness!
For all those who suffer from tropical diseases, and those at risk from spreading diseases and heat waves. We stand in witness!
For farmers and all who eat, as droughts ruin crops, incomes, and food supplies. We stand in witness!
For people of color around the world, who are at risk from climate change and environmental injustice. We stand in witness!
For the human populations, plants, and animals who are losing or have lost access to enough fresh water. We stand in witness! 
For the countless animals who suffer in factory farms, in a system that causes misery and carbon pollution. We stand in witness!
For all the habitats already lost and which are disappearing. We stand in witness!*
For the endangered mammals, plants, birds, insects, and all the species we will never discover. We stand in witness! 
For the burning rain forests. We stand in witness!
For the warming oceans and the dying choral reefs. We stand in witness! 
For the mountaintops removed, water supplies poisoned, and oceans spilled with oil. We stand in witness!
For all who make their living from our addiction to fossil fuels.We stand in witness!
For our own roles in using and wasting energy. We stand in witness!
The Call to Action:
We’re ready to act because we have a favorite place on Earth that we want our great-grandchildren to experience. With love in our hearts, Compassionate One, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because somewhere we heard John Muir’s voice, reminding us that in the beauty of nature we see the beginning of creation. With beauty in our hearts, Creator, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because someone in our life once shared something with us – something we needed; something we could not live without – and we want to do the same for the next generation and beyond. With generosity in our hearts, Holy One of Blessing, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because we've read texts we consider sacred, and they make clear that the Earth is a gift, and we are stewards of that gift. With responsibility in our hearts, G!d of Judgment, move us to action.
We’re ready to act  because the blessing of life has allowed us to see the ways our lives are all connected with one another in a web of mutuality. Affirming the web of life, Mysterious One, move us to action.  
We’re ready to act  because the most basic moral instruction at the core of every world religion is the call to love our neighbors as ourselves; ... and we regard future generations as no less our neighbors than those who live next door to us today.  Affirming all people alive – and yet to be born – as our neighbors, G!d of Life, move us to action.  
We’re ready to act  because we want to be part of the solution.  Affirming the gift of creativity, Almighty, move us to action. 
We add a seventh item to our efforts toward re-dedication.

For the seventh night, we consider our integrity. Do our actions match our words? Do our words mirror our deeply-held beliefs? Do we say and do what we know is right? What can we do to ensure that the answers to these questions are YES as much of the time as possible?

Here is how my list is shaping up on this seventh night of Hanukkah: 
Eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, Our G!d and G!d of our ancestors, give me strength on this third night of Hanukkah, and help me to re-dedicate myself to remembering that I am created in the image of the Holy One of Blessing, to eating organic, local food, to speaking out about racism, to maintaining my values in my finances, to writing to my representatives or local paper about climate change and social justice issues, to supporting the hungry, and to matching my words and actions to my beliefs and values. 
What are you adding to your list tonight?

Chag Urim Sameach – Happy Hanukkah,
Rabbi Katy

* by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman
** by Rev. Jim Antal, adapted

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hanukkah 5775 - Night 6 Re-Dedication Meditation

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Tonight we light six candles, the lights in our home grow ever brighter, but as we add to the “Litany of Harm,” we know that there is darkness in many corners of the world, and so we add also to our “Call to Action,” and consider a sixth way to move our lives forward in a way that adds light to the world.

Hanukkah Night 6:
The Litany of Harm:
For all those in island nations, where rising sea levels and superstorms threaten their very existence. We stand in witness!
For all coastal cities and villages, where storm swells and flooding put lives and homes at risk. We stand in witness!
For all those who suffer from tropical diseases, and those at risk from spreading diseases and heat waves. We stand in witness!
For farmers and all who eat, as droughts ruin crops, incomes, and food supplies. We stand in witness!
For people of color around the world, who are at risk from climate change and environmental injustice. We stand in witness!
For the human populations, plants, and animals who are losing or have lost access to enough fresh water. We stand in witness! 
For the countless animals who suffer in factory farms, in a system that causes misery and carbon pollution. We stand in witness!
For all the habitats already lost and which are disappearing. We stand in witness!*
For the endangered mammals, plants, birds, insects, and all the species we will never discover. We stand in witness! 
For the burning rain forests. We stand in witness!
For the warming oceans and the dying choral reefs. We stand in witness! 
For the mountaintops removed, water supplies poisoned, and oceans spilled with oil. We stand in witness!
The Call to Action:
We’re ready to act because we have a favorite place on Earth that we want our great-grandchildren to experience. With love in our hearts, Compassionate One, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because somewhere we heard John Muir’s voice, reminding us that in the beauty of nature we see the beginning of creation. With beauty in our hearts, Creator, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because someone in our life once shared something with us – something we needed; something we could not live without – and we want to do the same for the next generation and beyond. With generosity in our hearts, Holy One of Blessing, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because we've read texts we consider sacred, and they make clear that the Earth is a gift, and we are stewards of that gift. With responsibility in our hearts, G!d of Judgment, move us to action.
We’re ready to act  because the blessing of life has allowed us to see the ways our lives are all connected with one another in a web of mutuality. Affirming the web of life, Mysterious One, move us to action.  
We’re ready to act  because the most basic moral instruction at the core of every world religion is the call to love our neighbors as ourselves; ... and we regard future generations as no less our neighbors than those who live next door to us today.  Affirming all people alive – and yet to be born – as our neighbors, G!d of Life, move us to action. **
We add a sixth action to our commitment to ourselves.

For the sixth night, we consider our neighbors, those in our own communities and those around the world, who are mired in poverty, who go to bed hungry at night, and whose children die of starvation. What can we do to help them? How are we able to assist one person, a family, or a community? What are we able to give, financially or through our talents and skills, to change the plight of those with little or nothing?

Here are my commitments on this sixth night of Hanukkah: 
Eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, Our G!d and G!d of our ancestors, give me strength on this third night of Hanukkah, and help me to re-dedicate myself to remembering that I am created in the image of the Holy One of Blessing, to eating organic, local food, to speaking out about racism, to maintaining my values in my finances, to writing to my representatives or local paper about climate change and social justice issues, and to supporting the hungry. 
How is your list shaping up?

Chag Urim Sameach – Happy Hanukkah,
Rabbi Katy

* by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman
** by Rev. Jim Antal, adapted

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hanukkah 5775 - Night 5 Re-Dedication Meditation

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

As we light five candles tonight, we continue the “Litany of Harm” and the “Call to Action,” and name for ourselves a fifth way to re-dedicate ourselves to walking in G!d's footsteps.

Hanukkah Night 5:
The Litany of Harm:
For all those in island nations, where rising sea levels and superstorms threaten their very existence. We stand in witness!
For all coastal cities and villages, where storm swells and flooding put lives and homes at risk. We stand in witness!
For all those who suffer from tropical diseases, and those at risk from spreading diseases and heat waves. We stand in witness!
For farmers and all who eat, as droughts ruin crops, incomes, and food supplies. We stand in witness!
For people of color around the world, who are at risk from climate change and environmental injustice. We stand in witness!
For the human populations, plants, and animals who are losing or have lost access to enough fresh water. We stand in witness! 
For the countless animals who suffer in factory farms, in a system that causes misery and carbon pollution. We stand in witness!
For all the habitats already lost and which are disappearing. We stand in witness!
For the endangered mammals, plants, birds, insects, and all the species we will never discover. We stand in witness! 
For the burning rain forests. We stand in witness!*
The Call to Action:
We’re ready to act because we have a favorite place on Earth that we want our great-grandchildren to experience. With love in our hearts, Compassionate One, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because somewhere we heard John Muir’s voice, reminding us that in the beauty of nature we see the beginning of creation. With beauty in our hearts, Creator, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because someone in our life once shared something with us – something we needed; something we could not live without – and we want to do the same for the next generation and beyond. With generosity in our hearts, Holy One of Blessing, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because we've read texts we consider sacred, and they make clear that the Earth is a gift, and we are stewards of that gift. With responsibility in our hearts, G!d of Judgment, move us to action.
We’re ready to act  because the blessing of life has allowed us to see the ways our lives are all connected with one another in a web of mutuality. Affirming the web of life, Mysterious One, move us to action. **
We add a fifth promise to the world:

For the fifth night, we consider our climate change advocacy. The climate is changing. Our governments acknowledge its reality through programs such as the regional USDA hubs designed to help farmers deal with the impact of climate change on agriculture. Our Congress is not yet willing to take action. Some state governments are starting to take matters into their hands, yet their efforts are slow and not enough. What can you do to try to influence public policy on climate and other environmental issues? Letter writing? Phone calls? Meetings? What would work best for you?

My reflections for the fifth night of Hanukkah include these committments: 
Eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, Our G!d and G!d of our ancestors, give me strength on this fifth night of Hanukkah, and help me to re-dedicate myself to remembering that I am created in the image of the Holy One of Blessing, to eating organic, local food, to speaking out about racism, to maintaining my values in my finances, and to writing to my representatives or local paper about climate change and social justice issues. 
To what are you re-dedicating yourself tonight?

Chag Urim Sameach – Happy Hanukkah,
Rabbi Katy

* by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman
** by Rev. Jim Antal

Hanukkah 5775 - Night 4 Re-Dedication Meditation

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

On this fourth night, half way through Hanukkah, we light four candles, continue the “Litany of Harm” and the “Call to Action,” and consider a fourth way to move our lives forward in a way that adds goodness to the world.

Hanukkah Night 4:
The Litany of Harm:
For all those in island nations, where rising sea levels and superstorms threaten their very existence. We stand in witness!
For all coastal cities and villages, where storm swells and flooding put lives and homes at risk. We stand in witness!
For all those who suffer from tropical diseases, and those at risk from spreading diseases and heat waves. We stand in witness!
For farmers and all who eat, as droughts ruin crops, incomes, and food supplies. We stand in witness!
For people of color around the world, who are at risk from climate change and environmental injustice. We stand in witness!
For the human populations, plants, and animals who are losing or have lost access to enough fresh water. We stand in witness! 
For the countless animals who suffer in factory farms, in a system that causes misery and carbon pollution. We stand in witness!
For all the habitats already lost and which are disappearing. We stand in witness!*
The Call to Action:
We’re ready to act because we have a favorite place on Earth that we want our great-grandchildren to experience. With love in our hearts, Compassionate One, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because somewhere we heard John Muir’s voice, reminding us that in the beauty of nature we see the beginning of creation. With beauty in our hearts, Creator, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because someone in our life once shared something with us – something we needed; something we could not live without – and we want to do the same for the next generation and beyond. With generosity in our hearts, Holy One of Blessing, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because we've read texts we consider sacred, and they make clear that the Earth is a gift, and we are stewards of that gift. With responsibility in our hearts, G!d of Judgment, move us to action.**
We add a fourth promise to ourselves.

For the fourth night, we consider our finances. Where do you spend your money and how? What does the cost of an item say about the wages of the people who made it? What resources went into making it? If you have money invested, do you know how it is being used? How does your bank use your money? Are the ways your money is invested consistent with your values? (Click here for some resources with changes you might make.)

Here are my thoughts for this fourth night of Hanukkah: 
Eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, Our G!d and G!d of our ancestors, give me strength on this fourth night of Hanukkah, and help me to re-dedicate myself to remembering that I am created in the image of the Holy One of Blessing, to eating organic, local food, to speaking out about racism, and to maintaining my values in my finances.
What do you feel moved to add to your list tonight?

Chag Urim Sameach – Happy Hanukkah,
Rabbi Katy

* by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman
** by Rev. Jim Antal

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hanukkah 5775 - Night 3 Re-Dedication Meditation

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

On this third night of Hanukkah, we light three candles and continue to add to the “Litany of Harm” and the “Call to Action,” and we provide a third action to our personal list of ways in which to increase the sanctity of our lives and the lives of those around us.

Hanukkah Night 3:
We continue the Litany of Harm:
For all those in island nations, where rising sea levels and superstorms threaten their very existence. We stand in witness!
For all coastal cities and villages, where storm swells and flooding put lives and homes at risk. We stand in witness!
For all those who suffer from tropical diseases, and those at risk from spreading diseases and heat waves. We stand in witness!
For farmers and all who eat, as droughts ruin crops, incomes, and food supplies. We stand in witness!
For people of color around the world, who are at risk from climate change and environmental injustice. We stand in witness!
For the human populations, plants, and animals who are losing or have lost access to enough fresh water. We stand in witness! *
We continue our Call to Action:
We’re ready to act because we have a favorite place on earth that we want our great-grandchildren to experience. With love in our hearts, Compassionate One, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because somewhere we heard John Muir’s voice, reminding us that in the beauty of nature we see the beginning of creation. With beauty in our hearts, Creator, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because someone in our life once shared something with us – something we needed; something we could not live without – and we want to do the same for the next generation and beyond. With generosity in our hearts, Holy One of Blessing, move us to action.””
And we add a third item for increasing holiness.

For the third night, we focus on our responses to people of color. Do we see the differences in how white people and people of color are treated? Do we see how our days are different from those who are different from ourselves? Are we ready and able to recognize and acknowledge our white privilege? And what do we do about all of this?

Here are my thoughts for this third night of Hanukkah: 
Eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, Our G!d and G!d of our ancestors, give me strength on this third night of Hanukkah, and help me to re-dedicate myself to remembering that I am created in the image of the Holy One of Blessing, to eating organic, local food, and to speaking out about racism.
What do you feel moved to add to your list tonight?

Chag Urim Sameach – Happy Hanukkah,
Rabbi Katy

* by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman
** by Rev. Jim Antal

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hanukkah 5775 - Night 2 Re-Dedication Meditation

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen


On this second night of Hanukkah, we continue to increase in holiness by lighting two candles and by adding to the “Litany of Harm” and the “Call to Action,” and by adding a new action to our personal list of ways in which to re-dedicate ourselves. (See Night 1 for a full introduction.)

Hanukkah Night 2:
We continue the Litany of Harm:
For all those in island nations, where rising sea levels and superstorms threaten their very existence. We stand in witness!
For all coastal cities and villages, where storm swells and flooding put lives and homes at risk. We stand in witness!
For all those who suffer from tropical diseases, and those at risk from spreading diseases and heat waves. We stand in witness!
For farmers and all who eat, as droughts ruin crops, incomes, and food supplies. We stand in witness!*
 We continue our Call to Action:
We’re ready to act because we have a favorite place on earth that we want our great-grandchildren to experience. With love in our hearts, Compassionate One, move us to action.
We’re ready to act because somewhere we heard John Muir’s voice, reminding us that in the beauty of nature we see the beginning of creation. With beauty in our hearts, Creator, move us to action.**
And we add to our list of actions to which we re-dedicate ourselves.

For the second night, we focus on food. What are the ways in which you are prepared to change your eating habits to better protect the Earth and farm workers? What can you give up or what can you take on that will make your food healthier for both you and the planet?
Here are my thoughts for this second night of Hanukkah: Eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, Our G!d and G!d of our ancestors, give me strength on this second night of Hanukkah, and help me to re-dedicate myself to remembering that I am created in the image of the Holy One of Blessing and to eating organic, local food.
What will you add to your list tonight?

Chag Urim Sameach – Happy Hanukkah,

Rabbi Katy

* by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman
** by Rev. Jim Antal

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hanukkah 5775 - Night 1 Re-Dedication Meditation

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Why don’t we light eight candles on the first night of Hanukkah, and work our way down to one? Why do we start with one candle and work our way up to eight? So familiar are we with our traditional way of lighting the candles and increasing the light, that imagining doing it the opposite way is almost impossible. Reduce the amount of light each night? No way!

Yet, in ancient times this custom seems to have been practiced. In the Talmud, the School of Shammai said, “On the first day eight lights are lit and thereafter they are gradually reduced,” but the School of Hillel said, no, no, no! “On the first day one is lit and thereafter they are progressively increased.” We all know who won that argument! Hillel’s reasoning? “We increase in matters of holiness but we do not decrease.” (Shabbat 21b)

Thus, we learn from Hanukkah – the festival of re-dedication – that in regard to holiness, we are never to decrease, only to increase. So, this is what happens when we light the Hanukkah candles – we increase the light, the holiness, the positive energy, the goodness, in the universe.

I think of that game, “I’m going to my grandmother’s and I’m taking with me…” Each person “takes” their own new item, but also all those named previously, so that the list grows longer and longer and longer. This is what happens with increasing holiness. Each night we bring into the room, into the universe, into our lives, all the goodness and holiness of this particular candle-lighting, as well as the goodness and holiness from each previous one.

This week, we will post a bit of holiness for you to bring to your candle-lighting, and each night we will add a new bit, eight pieces of a puzzle to fill in and create something whole over the eight nights of Hanukkah. Each night we will add two verses from a “Litany of Harm” to the planet, written by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Freidman, to help us stand in witness and solidarity with all those who are being harmed by climate change. It will also include one verse from “A Climate Change Call and Response to Action” written by Rev. Jim Antal. And at the end of each of these sets of verses you will find ideas and questions to help you decide to what to re-dedication yourself that night. Each day will provide a different theme.

I invite you to keep adding on, as we do with lighting the candles and with the “I’m going to my grandmother’s…” game, so that on the 8th day of Hanukkah, you read the entire Litany of Harm, the entire Call to Action, and re-dedicate yourself to all of your actions.

Hanukkah Night 1:
We first the candles and recite the traditional blessings.

We then begin the Litany of Harm to our Planet:
For all those in island nations, where rising sea levels and superstorms threaten their very existence. We stand in witness!
For all coastal cities and villages, where storm swells and flooding put lives and homes at risk. We stand in witness!

We begin our Call to Action:
We’re ready to act because we have a favorite place on Earth that we want our great-grandchildren to experience. With love in our hearts, Compassionate One, move us to action.
We start to act:

For the first night, we focus on the spiritual. What are the ways that you want to re-dedicate yourself to your spiritual life? How do you want to continue to strength and deepen your relationship with the Holy One? Prayer? Meditation? Spending time outdoors? What will enrich your spiritual life the most? You may want to consider these questions alone, or discuss them with those lighting candles with you. 

Here are my thoughts for tonight: 
Eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, Our G!d and G!d of our ancestors, give me strength on this first night of Hanukkah, and help me to rededicate myself to remembering that I am created in your image, in the image of the Holy One of Blessing.
What are your thoughts? For the last part of tonight's Hanukkah meditation, put your intention about spiritual re-dedication into words and share it with those around you.

Chag Urim Sameach – Happy Hanukkah,
Rabbi Katy