Posts Tagged ‘Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation’

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation -  Sanctuary Bethesda, Maryland

Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation –
Bethesda, Maryland

Rambling Musings of Going Home-to Adat Shalom

Yesterday I went home.

I didn’t go to the place I was raised; I wouldn’t want to go there.  Instead I went to the spiritual community that raised me as an educator, pushed me as a human being, and nurtured my soul when I needed it most. I went to Adat Shalom Reconstuctionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland.

From the moment I drove in the parking lot, I knew I was returning home. With a sense of overwhelming joy, I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to be visiting my old stomping grounds. As soon as I got out of the car, I met with one of the most beautiful souls that welcomed me into her home on numerous occasions without question whenever I wanted to gather my Rosh Hodesh Girls. (This was a group of tweens and later teens that celebrated the new month together.)

While all loving connections are complicated, Adat Shalom was the community that empowered me to grow as the person and the human being that I am today. For six years I worked at Adat Shalom. Each and every day I was stretched, watered, and even pruned. There were moments when the growing pains were intense and other moments that my soul couldn’t stop singing.  And looking back, I can clearly see how deeply this Makom Kadosh, holy place touched my life and does to this very day.

The clergy and the community taught me how to be the most authentic me I could be. Each and every day that I came to work, I felt loved and respected. On the bad days, I knew I had some growing to do; on the good days, I knew I was far from becoming the best educator I could be. Through working with such thoughtful leaders, lay people, and families, I learned the power of discernment.

Looking back, I see that I worked with soul workers. The clergy, the teachers, Sheila Feldman (our executive director), and the staff. The lay leaders and the members were passionate and wise. While I sometimes struggled, I was also deeply in love. Leaving Adat Shalom was painful, but it was the right thing to do at that time in my life. And I will forever feel a sense of loss that I am no longer there.

The community was passionate about the world they live and those that live in it. It was at Adat Shalom that I started to understand individual rights and our collective responsibility. It was at Adat Shalom that I began to seriously (and with decisive information) to contemplate our impact on the environment and how we could make a difference for good. And it was at Adat Shalom that I found my voice. I became more thoughtful and conscious of my responsibility as a Jew, a woman, and a human being. I had a lot of work to do and I welcome the fact that I will always be doing the work.

When my child’s life hung by a thread, it was the loving energy of such a caring community that gave us the strength to navigate and ultimately survive the years of trauma.  Both strangers and friends brought us food, offered their prayers, and even visited us during the nightmares that nearly took my son’s life.

As soon as I walked into the sanctuary, I knew exactly where I would sit. Seeing my beloved friend sitting by himself, I was thrilled to totally surprise the person who I had lost track of. Years before he and his loving wife were traveling on the west coast when we were preparing to what would become a 22 hour brain surgery in Los Angeles. Even today, Aryeh, my son, who remembers little of that time in our lives, remembers our friends going out of the way to comfort him. BTW, it worked.

I love that I had Aryeh with me yesterday. He has ALWAYS loved our Adat family as much as I did. We have both missed our Adat Shalom community.

What no one realized yesterday is that my son wore a tallit that I made for him. The words on the atarah, the collar, said I am still alive. In Hebrew, the words remind us that in spite of what many believed would be his death sentence, my son is still alive. At one point during services, I rested my head against his arm and he quietly said, “It feels so good to be here wrapped in this tallit and at Adat Shalom.” My son is very much alive and I think it is the Adat Shalom community and his relenting spirit that gave him (and our entire family) the strength to soar.

Towards the last moments of the service, Aryeh decided to rise for his first time to say Mourners ‘Kaddish, for his father’s father, his grandfather who had died two weeks earlier. No one at Adat Shalom knew that he was mourning a significant loss in his life, but it was at home that my son was given the space to cry and to feel the full impact of his loss. It didn’t matter that no one knew, it was at Adat Shalom that my son felt safe to stand and mourn.

There are many that come to Adat Shalom with their own Jewish journeys. I love that I learned so much about what it means to honor each individual’s spirit during my time there. I wish I could thank EVERYONE that crossed my path so that I could personally thank them.

Being called to the bima, stage, by Cantor Rachel, my childhood friend and colleague, literally took my breath away. As I stood on a bima that I had been on many times before, I saw the faces of so many beautiful souls. While I didn’t get a chance to connect with each and every person individually, I felt like the luckiest person in the world at that moment. And then carrying the Torah around the sanctuary made my heart sing. It was during my time at Adat Shalom that my entire relationship with the Living Torah evolved and was given wings that had been clipped earlier in my life. It was with this community, that my relationship with the world grew to beautiful heights. It was this community that I learned that everything is Torah.

Yesterday, I went home. I can’t wait to do so again in a couple of weeks before I move to Houston to what I believe will be a beautiful taste of what I had at Adat Shalom. Wow, I am so blessed.

May each and every one of find Makom Kadosh, this holy place within ourselves and within the communities that we call home.

With love, light, and blessings,


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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Namaste – Part 1

I love life – all of life!

In 2002, my heart, my mind, and my soul opened in very profound and unexpected ways. That was the year I moved from Atlanta, Georgia to the Washington, DC area so that I could work at one of the most beautifully conscious synagogues in the country, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda.

Through my work environment, I found people that treasured the earth and all of her inhabitants. Looking back, I am amazed at what a gift that was for me. Nearly every person I met at Adat Shalom valued life and was intrinsically aware of the impact human beings had on the larger universe. Before that time, I thought I was cognizant of my part in the world; working with such thoughtful human beings proved that I had a long way to go.

And then shortly after beginning my work, I took my first yoga class at Willow Street Yoga, a wonderful little studio in Takoma Park, Maryland.  During my years at that studio, I grew comfortable with my body and in the world I lived. Through yoga, I grew to understand that my body was a temple and with that the world around me grew more sacred.

The more I grew as a person, the more connected to everything I became. And to this day, I remain a person that constantly grapples with how to make the healthiest choices within the world I live.

Change didn’t happen overnight; it took time for me to learn my role in caring for myself and tikkun olam (repairing the world). I was quite fortunate to find myself in the most spiritual settings of my life to date. Still today, I am constantly re-visioning how to move forward in the world and to positively guide every environment I live (family, friends, work, etc.).


At my first yoga class, I heard the word Namaste, it reminded me that I had a role in the bigger world. Namaste, the spirit in me honors the spirit in you.  While this Sanskrit word is often interpreted in many different ways, I am most comfortable with the interpretation my first yoga teacher gave me. And over time, the word became more and more precious to me as those in my work environment reinforced the teachings.

I always loved life. . . always. Through my time at Adat Shalom and then Willow Street Yoga, I grew to value life even more.

So why am I choosing to share this basic tenet in my life at this time?

I will always see myself as a Work In Progress. So, as I am in the midst of sharing My Journey Towards Wholeness, I wanted to share a few of the ways I use the word in my daily life.

  1. When I see a road kill or an animal die on the road, I say, “Namaste” as my car passes. The spirit in me honors the spirit in you. While you have died, know that I care; your presence in the world mattered.
  2. When a fire engine, ambulance, or police car pass, I say “Namaste.” The spirit in me honors the spirit in you. May you and whoever you are helping feel the positive energy and ultimately be ok!
  3. When I meet friends (new and old), the word Namaste enters my mind.
  4. When I do each and every mitzvah, commandment,t that is part of the Jewish practices I live by, I say “Namaste” in my head. Whether I am caring for a sick person, the family of someone who has died, the land, or one of the many social action interests, I find myself remembering that the spirit in me honors the spirit in all.

Since the world I live in is full of many life forces, my job is to remember and to honor each one. Every day, I have the opportunity to blend the world of my Judaism and the world of my yoga practice together. The work is the holiest work I have ever done with the exception of raising my sons.  I will be forever grateful to the two communities that helped me grow my own spirit so that I can be the person I am.

May I learn to grow in the practice of remembering to honor the spirit of each and every individual and the land I live.

I love life – all of life!


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