Sunday, April 23, 2017

Call to Prayer

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D. 

In the wind, You whisper to us
In the skies You elevate us
In the forests You shelter us
In the oceans You cleanse us
In the rivers You bathe us
In the earth You embrace us
In the days You awaken us
In the nights You restore us
In the mountains You inspire us
In the valleys You replenish us
In the rains You quench us
In the sun You enliven us
In the moon You deepen us
In all ways and forms You invite us
Nature engages us daily in a call to prayer



© Judith Felsen, Ph.D. 

Judith Felsen holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, certificates in hypnotherapy, NLP, Eriksonian Hypnosis, and Sacred Plant Medicine. She is a dancer of sacred circle dance, an AMC kitchen crew, trail information volunteer, trail adopter, and daily student of Torah and Judaism. She is enrolled in Rabbinical Seminary International. She has studied Buddhism, A Course in Miracles, and other mystical traditions. She is a hiker, walker, runner, and lives in the White Mountains with her husband and two large dogs. Her life centers around her Jewish studies and daily application.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Moving out of Bondage toward Freedom


בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָֽיִם
In each and every generation, it is every person's obligation 
to see herself/himself/themselves 
as if she/he/they personally has/have come out from Mitzrayim. 

Mitzrayim - the narrow straits of bondage. The Talmud tells us that only 20 percent of the Israelites actually left Mitzrayim. The other 80 percent identified so fully as Egyptian that they didn't want to leave.

What is it that we don't really want to leave behind? 

And what is it that pulls us toward making that break toward freedom?

Most of us are a mix of the 80 percent and the 20 percent-- 
with, perhaps, slightly different numbers.

It is so very difficult to leave our bondage.

We are enslaved.
We are enslaved by fossil fuels.
We are enslaved by racism.
We are enslaved by privilege.
And so much more.

We resist.
We resist freedom due to apathy.
We resist freedom due to exhaustion. 
We resist freedom due to despair.
And so much more.

What is it 
that can push us out of our personal Mitzrayim
to begin the journey
that will take us 
to that terrifying place
where we stand,
seemingly helpless,
between the army and the sea?

What will it take
for us to put our first foot forward
and take one step
and then another,
to begin the long journey
out of Mitzrayim?

What has the power
to enable us 
to step into the sea
and keep on walking
until the water 
is up to our noses?

How can we find 
the strength we need?

For each of us, 
the answer is different,
very personal,
and for each of us,
the answer is the same,
totally universal.

And so, on this Passover night,
let us do this together.
Let us take the step,
the first step out of Mitzrayim,
out of bondage,
the first step into the sea,
into the unknown--
knowing that when we do,
others will follow,
knowing that when we do,
the waters will part,
and we will cross over
to a new place
beyond our imagination
where we are different,
where we are free.

Chag sameach - may you have a blessed and meaingful Passover.
Rabbi Katy

Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network. She is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spiritand is a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005 and lives in Wayland, MA.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Water Is Life

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Today, the Water Protectors left Standing Rock. 


Water is sacred. 
Water is life.

Water for drinking


Before we drink, we say:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהַכֹּל נִהְיֶה בִּדְבָרוֹ.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha'olam shehakol nihiyeh bidvaro.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Mystery of the Universe, 
by Whose word, all things came to be.

Water for washing



Water as snow



Water tumbling


Let us say:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהַכֹּל נִהְיֶה בִּדְבָרוֹ.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha'olam shehakol nihiyeh bidvaro.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Mystery of the Universe, 
by Whose word, all things came to be.

Water crashing


Water flowing


Water reflecting


Let us say:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהַכֹּל נִהְיֶה בִּדְבָרוֹ.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha'olam shehakol nihiyeh bidvaro.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Mystery of the Universe, 
by Whose word, all things came to be.

Water muddy



Water growing


Water placid


Let us say:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהַכֹּל נִהְיֶה בִּדְבָרוֹ.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha'olam shehakol nihiyeh bid'aro.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Mystery of the Universe, 

by Whose word, all things came to be.


Today the Water Protectors left Standing Rock.


Water is life.
Water is sacred.

Let us say:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהַכֹּל נִהְיֶה בִּדְבָרוֹ.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha'olam shehakol nihiyeh bidvaro.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Mystery of the Universe, 
by Whose word, all things came to be.


Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network, and a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005 and lives in Wayland, MA.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tracks in the snow


A meditation on tracks in the snow, and on similarities and differences. 

(Click here if it doesn't open in your email.)

The footprint of an animal is unique to its species and also to the individual, both for animals and for humans. What is your spiritual footprint? To what extent do you walk in G!d's ways? What is your carbon and other environmental footprint? To what extent do you live sustainably on this sacred planet Earth?


Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network, and a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Water Is Life

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

In this week's Torah portion, Beshalach, the sea parts to let the Israelites pass through to the other side. The deep, impassable sea, one more in a series of seemingly impossible obstacles to freedom, suddenly opens to allow for passage out of bondage and into freedom. 

In honor of hope of seas parting and of the Water Protectors, who are working so hard and being so terribly treated, I offer this meditation on water to help you find strength as you go through your days.




Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network, and a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Our Spiritual Task

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Soon after the election last November, my friend Rabbi Shoshana Friedman wrote about how being a climate activist accidentally helped prepare her for the election. I have been on a slower journey to a similar understanding.

I've been involved with climate action for quite a few years now. I've heard scientists say we have a window of a couple of years (this number of years having by now gone by); I've read articles and books related to impending chaos and destruction of the planet and possible extinction of the human species as a result of climate change; I've watched the parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere rise way about the 350 limit from which 350.org took its name; and, in recent years I've begun to realize that climate-change-caused chaos is already happening, most notably the climate change roots of the Syrian refugee crisis. And again and again, I've felt pain and grief for this planet, often triggered by incidents close to home that are, relatively speaking benign, such as the leveling of trees or whole lots near where I live, or even just discussing buying something new.

Every time I've experienced a bout of fear and grief, I've eventually returned to the same place emotionally and intellectually. Which is: I don't know what the future brings. I cannot possibly know. But I do know, and I know this deep in my heart, that whatever our future holds for us, it really matters HOW we go through our days. It matters that we are doing something to try to combat climate change. It matters that we speak out and that we act. It matters that we work to reconcile our personal lives with our values for a future sustainable planet. It matters that we build community and connections to other people. It matters how we behave.

The same applies to the new reality of our nation.

I do not know if we are headed toward dictatorship and the breakdown of the post-World War II world order. I do not know if we are headed for massive loss of rights and widespread violence. I do not know if we are headed toward the end of our democracy. I do not know if we are headed for climate disaster. I do not know.

But I do know that it matters how we go forward. I do know that digging deeper to try to go beyond our fear is important. I do know that we need to be able to speak to our family members and our neighbors. I do know that we need to work as hard as we can to help our democracy survive. I do know that we need to speak up for those more vulnerable than ourselves. I do know that it is important to keep our hearts loving and compassionate, even when we speak hard truths.

What does it take for us to maintain loving kindness?

What does it take for us to be courageous in our actions rather than to respond from a place of fear?

What does it take for us to maintain compassion for those who are different from us?

What does it take for us to hold onto faith?

For each of us, the journey is different, but one thing is true for most (if not all) of us: we must take care of ourselves. In the midst of becoming more active and advocating more frequently, we sometimes need to stop and close our eyes and breathe. Perhaps we need to take time for prayer or meditation or silent reflection. We may need to get outdoors to absorb the healing power of the natural world. We may need to gather in community for song and reflection. We may need to go to bed on time. We may need to run ten miles or climb the nearest mountain. Whatever our most basic physical and spiritual needs are, we must meet them. We must take care of ourselves, because if we don't, we will burn out, and we cannot afford to let that happen. We must be able to remain vigilant and active and aware for a very long time.

It is possible that no matter how hard we work, no matter how much we protest and how many letters and phone calls we make, no matter how much money we donate, that our nation will fall apart. But we do not know, and so we must do this work. And we must keep on doing it.

And no matter what happens, if our hearts and our spirits remain strong, if our faith and courage run deep, if our personal connections are filled with love and caring, then on some important level, we will be OK. The world will not be OK, but we will know that we have done everything we possibly could, and that is so very important.

And so, we must take care of ourselves, even when we are not sure how. We must dig deeper, we must learn more about how to navigate through life, we must grow as human beings. That is the spiritual task before us.

And so, at those moments when you do not know how you can keep going, may you find the strength, the courage, the determination, and the love and compassion that you need. May you be blessed on your journey.

Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network, and a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Environmental Leadership Training Blessing

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D.

To you who yearn to be a voice for our Earth,
be it a  whisper shared locally
or a call heard globally,
may you speak for that which cannot share itself
and protect that which cannot defend itself.

To you who are called to be our planet’s leaders
may you serve as connector of peoples and plants
and keep the heart of the earth and soul of nature
close and present in your mind.

To you who are guardians of gaia
and caregivers for all that seek to thrive in our world
may you join with beings in nature to share concerns
so that all will know earth’s truths
as felt in the heart
and sensed in the mind as one.

To you who have accepted the task of stewardship
may you feel empowered by the strength of the wind,
blessed by the waters of dew, snow and rain,
comforted by the warmth of sunlight and  gentleness of moonbeams,
and may you be guided by all that has been given you within and without
to keep your direction clear, your courage strong and your heart open.

Thank you to all of you.
Let the joining and work begin!

© Judith Felsen, Ph.D.

Judith Felsen holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, certificates in hypnotherapy, NLP, Eriksonian Hypnosis, and Sacred Plant Medicine. She is a dancer of sacred circle dance, an AMC kitchen crew, trail information volunteer, trail adopter, and daily student of Torah and Judaism. She is enrolled in Rabbinical Seminary International. She has studied Buddhism, A Course in Miracles, and other mystical traditions. She is a hiker, walker, runner, and lives in the White Mountains with her husband and two large dogs. Her life centers around her Jewish studies and daily application.