Altar Ego Postings 2008
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December 2, 2008
Dear Friends,
This Wednesday, at 5:30 we will dedicate our evening Ma’ariv service at the Hour of Power to the victims of the Mumbai violence. Our tradition directs us to feeling the pain as our own, not as belonging to the “other.” Our history reminds us of what it feels like to have others stand by while we have suffered. Not only because Jews have been killed do we stand to say the Kaddish. Please join us to pray for both the living and dead in this tragedy. I look forward to being with you.

Since I’ve seen you last, I’ve davened in many places. My son, Ivan, goes to a shul, i.e. a small, heimish Conservative synagogue with a ceiling too low for a robust lifting of the Torah. I don’t think the sanctuary holds 100 people. What is very high is the spirit of the people who come. They love the service and enjoy almost every word. The service begins at 9:00 and ends around 12:30.

The rabbi, older than I and very learned, each week crafts an excellent Dvar Torah. The last time I was there they had a brit milah right after Adon Olam, a great feast upstairs, and then downstairs for the afternoon service! I always leave feeling with my davening hunger completely satisfied. And I love it when people come up to me and say, “So you’re Ivan’s mother!” with obvious affection for him. If you’re in Greenwich Village, it’s called the Conservative Synagogue of Fifth Avenue.

I also went to the Reform Village Temple where Chava Koster, a classmate, is rabbi. The night I was there they were celebrating Southern Jewry, so all the songs were to country music. I’d never heard Mi Chamochah ala Patsy Kline or Adon Olam to Hank Williams. Not bad! They followed it with a dinner of fried chicken and grits.

In Woodstock I went to both Friday night and Saturday morning services at the Reconstructionist /Renewal synagogue. Great music and I love the illustrations in the siddur. Very beautiful trees in a room with abundant natural light. Like HaMakom, there are regulars who love the chanting and newer melodies of Jewish renewal. No discussion, just the rabbi’s Dvar Torah, which I was sorry about, because there is a lot to say about Esau and Jacob. Still, maybe because we didn’t talk about it, I kept thinking about the brothers who were so different from one another, the father who favored one over the other for what he could get from him, and the mother who unconditionally loved only one son. Like our own lives, Torah tells us again and again of just how messy life is, and that everything that happens touches the world. What is happening today began a long time ago.

A lot is happening at our house right now. I look forward to making and eating rugelach – with Bill Fishbein’s coffee–and getting ready for our big move. Our house is in escrow. Many in our community remember when HaMakom had its first events, classes, and some services at Una Vida. Our house was on the market for four years and while this wouldn’t have been the year we would have chosen for more change, we like the buyers and are glad they love the house. It’s time for us to find a new makom that is a little less work. While change like this is always a challenge, we’re looking forward to the next adventure that we hope will lighten our lives. You’ll all be invited for the mezuzah hanging at our new Santa Fe home.

Peace and Love
Rabbi Malka Drucker

November 9, 2008
Dear Friends,

The election has been a catalyst for voluminous and brilliant writing that has tried to describe what this momentous event in American history means. Baruch HaShem, Barack Obama. May God bless and protect him.

Although we were all quite bleary-eyed in New York by the time President-elect Obama spoke, for those of us who sat-in and marched for civil rights so long ago, it was worth the wait. If it hadn’t been so late, we would have sung, “We Shall Overcome.” All those faces in Grant Park, full of hope, looked like the country my grandparents believed in and were proud of. May we all work to turn this moment of great potentiality into a great healing for America.

Gay and I celebrated with the family in Manhattan. We missed Owen keenly. He’d read a biography of Obama in the summer. We heard his many questions and enthusiastic commentary. My mother’s yarzheit is on Sunday, and she, who taught me that voting is an exciting sacrament, was also present with us on election night.

It may seem like a long stretch to connect HaMakom to the new vision yet I believe that Jews have a long history in being a blessing to America, as America has been a blessing to us. Our community in particular is creating opportunities for us to become better people through prayer, study, and good deeds.

Next Thursday night, 13 November, at 7 p.m., we’re inviting everyone who is interested in becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a Jew, or simply to learn more about Judaism, to join us for a description of our new course, “Entering the Heart of Judaism.” Remember, showing up to learn is an act of patriotism.

So is prayer. On Friday night, 14 November, join us for Kabbalat Shabbat at 7 p.m., where we’ll welcome our wonderful new members and get a chance to know them better.

Every Wednesday evening at 5:30 for Ma’ariv service and learning at the Hour of Power, and every Saturday morning at 9:45 for Shabbat services, Torah, and bagels, complete our upcoming events. By the way, we are in the only month of the Jewish year without holidays.

I’ll look forward to seeing you at any of the above.
Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

October 10, 2008
Dear Friends,

After facing down our shadow parts that we’re commanded to acknowledge, pulling up our socks and doing whatever is necessary to ask forgiveness of one another, forgiving ourselves and asking God’s forgiveness, we’re allowed the supreme pleasure of the day after Yom Kippur. We’ve rebuilt our inner house through prayer, meditation, fasting, singing, and teshuvah. But there is more to do than self-reflection.

Early this morning, three strapping men appeared in the garden, and I’m not speaking metaphysically. Jay Zeiger, Bill Lazar, and a new boneh, builder, Ron Duncan-Hart began building the sukkah. Immediately after Yom Kippur, we move from the inner construction to the outer construction of the world. The sukkah represents what we must build in the world, a fragile shelter of peace.

Please join us Monday night at 5:30 at Una Vida, the rabbi’s house, for a Sukkot service and a potluck dairy dinner. We will celebrate the harvest of our self-reflection and past year. If you’d like to bring something to add to the beauty of the sukkah , please bring it with you to hang before the service.

And, Shabbat is coming! We’ll read Ha’azinu, the last portion of the Torah tomorrow morning. Services begin at 9:45; it’s a wonderful way to hear the beat of the new year go on.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

October 3, 2008
Dear Friends,

Rosh Hashanah has great power, and it has launched us into the ten most important days of the year, the Days of Awe. We are encouraged to approach them with appropriate fear and trembling. A year has passed. What have I done with it? How much time did I waste in silly heartaches caused by stories I told myself? How many opportunities did I miss to bring a little sweetness to another’s life? How many unpleasant moments did I infect myself others because of something I said or didn’t say? Oy! It’s enough to draw the covers over one’s head and go back to sleep.

And there is, thank God, another side to these days. Ezra, the great writer (bless the writers!), told the grieving congregation to dry their eyes. On the first day of the seventh month, the day we call Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year, he gathered the people who had been broken in exile, without hope upon their return to Israel. He told them, “Go, eat choice foods and drink sweet drinks and send portions to whomever has nothing prepared, for the day is holy to our God. Do not be sad, for your rejoicing in Adonai is the source of your strength.”

God is rejoicing because the people have come together to hear Torah. Ezra accepts them as they are, not as an idealized community. The people responded by feeling connection to all those around them. This is what delighted and delights God.

These High Holidays have inspired me like no other. I felt God’s pleasure in seeing our community gather together in acceptance of one another. Whenever and wherever the community of Israel joins together we experience divine shelter and embrace. We enter the sanctuary with individual sorrow and find comfort in being with others who mourn. When we help one another to feel that we are not alone, God’s delight uplifts us and lets us see the divinity within us.

Here is what God witnessed with us this year: Cindy’s inspired chanting; community members leyning, some for the first time (Marcia Torobin); David Soifer expertly offering the Haftarot Tuesday and Wednesday; Atma Wiseman and her small but mighty crew that turned St. Bede’s lovely sanctuary into a mikdash me’at, a sliver of the great Temple; Father Murphy’s bridging benediction; and a robust group of new members called to the bima. In addition, Suzanne and Joshua Freilich celebrated their birthdays by graciously hosting a beautiful oneg following Erev Rosh Hashonah services. Rosh Hashanah has great power. It opens us to joy, reminds us of why we live, and gives us courage to face ourselves and do better. So continue to wish everyone a good year, taste the honey on the harvested fruit, and make special effort to behave in God during these few precious days.

We gather again this Shabbat, the Sabbath of Return, at 9:45 at St. Bede’s. This is a wonderful way to start the new year, with song, study–the Torah portion Vayelech offers the final words of Moses, in poetry, that will guide the people after he dies.

Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. begins the Kol Nidre service. Here are a few sartorial suggestions. Please wear a tallit; it is the only evening of the year when it is fashionable to wear one. The tradition encourages wearing white on the holiday to demonstrate the lightness, innocence, and purity that we feel as we fast following our holy self-scrutiny. Since we’re not supposed to wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur and it’s a challenge to find kosher shoes, I invite you to leave your shoes at the door to the sanctuary. If you have a shofar, please bring it for Ne’ilah, the closing service Thursday afternoon.

Following the service, we will enjoy a community dairy vegetarian pot-luck break fast. It is organized as follows: the community is asked to bring dishes designated by your last name. A-E Desserts and Fruit, F-S Salads and Appetizers, T-Z Entrée Type Dishes.

As Ezra tells us, we are obliged to provide for those in need. Please bring non-perishable food for our contribution to the shelter. See more information below.

Looking forward to spending the holiest day of the year with you,

Rabbi Malka Drucker

September 24, 2008
Dear Friends,

Last Saturday night we gathered for Selichot to explore ways in which we can forgive ourselves for the times we thought the worst about others, for the moments when we ignored a request when we could have said yes, and for all the opportunities to do good that we missed. Here is the big question: why is it so difficult to forgive ourselves?

Is it because we demand perfection of ourselves, as if we were God? We forget that it is through our mistakes that we learn to better. Perhaps we are unforgiving because we want to punish ourselves for our misdeeds. All this does, however, is keep us locked out of the house of love in which we long to be.

Self-forgiveness is key to teshuvah. Until we can face what we have done and accept our imperfections, we cannot ask forgiveness of another, because we’re drowning in guilt. We forgive ourselves not for being human but for what we have done specifically. Some of us easily forgive others for which we cannot forgive ourselves. There is an arrogance here in privately thinking that the bar is higher for us because, well, we’re a little better than others.

If you find yourself feeling stuck in the narrow birthing passage of becoming a new being, don’t despair. We have lots of opportunities in the next couple of weeks to go deeper and higher in our journey of self-judgment and self-improvement. Best of all, we don’t have to travel the road alone. We pray together, in plural, all our sins to remind us that we’re all works in progress.

Tonight, Wednesday at 5:30, we have the hour of power minyan where we will continue the conversation about forgiveness, newness, hope, and awakening to a new vision of ourselves and God. Shabbat morning brings us to witness who we are in the Torah portion, Nitzavim. We are out of the wilderness and about to enter a new land. We may not feel ready for prime time, but God thinks we are. “You are all standing here today,” it begins.

Woody Allen, a neo-commentator, says that 80 percent of life is showing up. Come and stand with us this week, next week, and who knows, maybe you’ll find strength, comfort, and courage in our midst. There is nothing like entering a space filled with lovingkindness and hope to raise you up.

If you have any questions about the High Holiday services, please give us a call: 992-1905.

L’shanah Tovah u’Metukah! May the New Year drip with goodness, creativity, and abundant health upon you!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

September 15, 2008
Dear Friends,

Tonight the moon will be radiantly round, reminding us that we are in the final stages of pregnancy as we approach the birth of the world and the birth of ourselves. It is two weeks before Rosh Hashanah; are we ready for the labor pangs?

Those of us who have been davening and studying together this month feel well fed by the delicious month of Elul. While we’ve been waiting in the garden for the One we’ve longed for all our lives, we have enjoyed tasting the fruit of potentiality, teshuvah, and forgiveness. Next Saturday night, 20 September, is Selichot, the evening of forgiveness. It will take place at Una Vida, the rabbi’s home, at 8:30 p.m. Dessert, havdalah, walking the labyrinth under the stars, a conversation about forgiveness and a powerful service, and you’ll still be home before midnight.

Since this is the time of year when it needs to be all about “me”, i.e. we take our own inventory and we judge ourselves, this year we’ll focus on self-forgiveness. How do shame and guilt keep us from forgiving ourselves and others? Shame can be so painful that we don’t see our wrongdoings, and then we cannot ask forgiveness of another.

AJ Heschel speaks about the High Holidays as great opportunity for pahad, fear and trembling, an altered state in which we feel that we are standing in the presence of the One who knows everything about us, who isn’t fooled by the smiles. He said at a lecture before Yom Kippur, “Scratch the skin of any person and you come upon, sorrow, frustration, unhappiness. People are pretentious. Everybody looks proud; inside we are heartbroken. We are all failures. At least one day a year we should recognize it. I have failed so often; I am sure those present here have also failed. The root of any religious faith is a sense of embarrassment, of inadequacy. We have no answer to ultimate problems. We really don’t know. In this not knowing, in this sense of embarrassment, lies the key to opening the wells of creativity.”

Selichot is a way to channel human suffering into religious experience. If you’re coming to any of our High Holiday services, or thinking about it, please join us as we acknowledge our embarrassment and forgive ourselves for not loving enough.

Last Thursday night, which was the seventh anniversary of 9/11, I went to UNM to give an invocation for a town hall meeting for people who care about the issues but feel alienated from the election. The audience was young, smart, and worried. Their presence moved me. Here is what I said:

O Great Creator,
In whose womb we are given life
From whose breath we are granted spirit
By whose wisdom we learn discernment

Be present in our midst tonight in this season of choice
That we would remember 9/11 not only as a day of devastation but a time, albeit brief, of interconnection and kindness between us
That we would vote not from fear, anger, nor hatred
That we would listen to each other with compassion
That we would hold our elected officials to their sacred trust
of restoring justice and lovingkindness to our country
That we would carry hope for the future

So that all we do, and all we say
Will share in all that is holy.

Oseh shalom bimromav hu yaaseh shalom alenu v’al kol yoshvei tevel.
V’imru Amen.

May the One who makes peace in heaven rain peace upon us and upon our parched world.
And let us say Amen.

I can’t wait to see you!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

*If you need directions please call 231-5874.

September 2, 2008
Dear Friends,

I wish you a Rosh Hodesh Sameah, a joyful beginning of the month. Today is the first day of Elul as well as September first, and following the custom of the month, I blew the shofar this crystalline morning with everything in me. Sometimes the way to deal with sadness is to encounter it with an equally strong positive force.

The shofar turned my breath into a sob, a sigh, a newborn’s cry, and an alarm. Wake up! Choose and cherish life! The shofar is supposed to awaken us from our sleep of indifference. This year I’m painfully awake to the preciousness of life and to the inextricable and invisible interconnection between human beings that we call empathy.

The shofar’s plaint reminded me that it is we who redeem the mourners with our presence and our faith that they will return to life whole once again. Thank you for being with us Wednesday night and Shabbat morning. We’ve just returned to Santa Fe, and your caring presence was as warming as the familiarity of our home. I, an introvert, finally understand how much I need you.

The shofar also reminded me that the time to celebrate our ability to change and to become the people we want to be is drawing near. It’s taken me a long time to accept that life isn’t only about Rosh Hashanah. I still prefer it to death, however, and am looking forward to the freshness and sweetness of the High Holidays.

We have limits to mourning, a year at most to keep a practice. The community needs us to return with our new hearts, made stronger, wiser, and more whole by being broken. My year of saying Kaddish for my mother ends November 28th. Being able to say Kaddish takes a minyan, i.e. ten, and the hour of power will continue until then every Wednesday evening at 5:30 at St. Bede’s.

To invite your presence and to invite the Presence during the month of Elul, after the brief service we’ll do a little wrestling and snuggling with the ideas of the season. Elul is the most romantic of months: it is an acronym for Ani L’dodi v’dodi li,” I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” This is the month when the Beloved leaves the palace to look for us in the garden. Please come to the garden Wednesday evening. You’ll do a mitzvah in making the minyan and you get to move closer to becoming the one you were born to be. Begin the New Year by showing up at the minyans of Elul.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka
August 12, 2008
Dear Ones,

Thank you so much for your caring notes, calls, prayers, and food. HaMakom and St. Bede’s sent food baskets. All expressions of drawing near to the family continue to bless Owen’s memory. So many have been heroes in grieving with us and bringing solace with their presence. This is a heartbreak of indescribable proportion, and the acts of kindness have been great. Nothing redeems or softens what happened, but at least there is consolation in seeing the face of God in so many.

There is a holy clarity that comes with a tragic death. A mother tells me that last night, because of Owen, she said yes to her three year-old wanting one more bedtime story. We feel the preciousness of our blessings fiercely, perhaps more than ever before, and that is Owen working as an angel to keep us grateful and careful with one another. If you’d like to read how so many have been touched by his too brief life and death, go to Alison and Stephane’s brilliant and poignant eulogy is there, as well as information about the memorial fund.

Gay and I will be returning to Santa Fe August 24. We are always glad to see you for the Wednesday minyan, and never more than on August 27th, 5:30 at St. Bede’s.

Meanwhile, please continue to go about your wonderful lives, remembering to thank God for ordinary bliss and even common unhappiness. So often it is only after something or someone is gone that we realize how much we miss them. The one who is absent becomes more present perhaps than that which is physically around us. No wonder Heschel said that living is an embarrassment. We waste so much time not enjoying all that we have and are.

Below the letter is the posting I wrote for the blog.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

The time will come, Owen, when we will remember every precious moment of your brief life over and over. We’ll see you playful as a dolphin in the swimming pool, screaming when the Yankees scored the winning run, or magically absorbed in a rich, imaginal world. For now, a fleeting glance is all we can handle.

What makes this “hour of lead” possible to bear is the presence of blessings even in hell. A child’s death is like no other. In tragedy people see how foolish disagreements are, and they remember what is most important. Family wounds are healing. Bubby (Bubster to you) and I have decided to marry. Friends have become the kind of family we dream about. They know they cannot take away the pain, so they bring food, do laundry, and stay beside your family.

Your parents and Julian are honoring your memory with great courage, kindness, and empathy. From your grandparents trying to be strong for their children to your young cousins and friends bringing the joyful sound of life as a counter to crying and Kaddish, each has given and received solace in your home that so reminds us of you. Mamoute too is doing his part to remind everyone that life goes on.

A hawk or maybe an eagle circled overhead on Thursday as all eyes fell on your coffin. Some of us felt the tender breeze that blew over your grave. We may not know precisely where you are, but we do know that few of us will ever touch as many lives as you have. Even fewer will leave your legacy.

There will be parents who will have learned from you the preciousness of the time they have with their children; they will become better parents. There will be children who will have had their hearts broken in such a way that they will always have a special empathy for others’ pain; they will be healers We who remember your heartbreakingly beautiful blue eyes, your phenomenal capacity for bacon, and your tender, passionate love for your family, will make your memory blessing by loving better, forgiving quickly, and by never taking what matters most for granted.

Some may think that a raft trip is a risk. We take our chances every time we get into the car. The biggest risk is loving. For all the pain that makes it difficult to eat, sleep, and take a deep breath, we will always be grateful for our time with you.

You wrote, “White is when you don’t make sense.” Your death makes no sense. It is up to us to give it meaning. May the pain of missing you make us better people. We’ll try to be grateful for what we had of you and we’ll keep faith that there will be a time to enjoy life again.

You have become one with the Mystery, Owen. I don’t know why you’re not with us, nor am I certain of where you are. What I do know is that the tear in so many hearts caused by your absence in so many hearts has caused a great awakening of kindness. That’s where we’ll find you, in the kindness of one to another. These sightings of you will help all who loved you to live.

All My Love,

July 15, 2008
Dear Friends,

What a joy to see so many of you last Wednesday for the Hour of Power Minyan. As I described in last week’s message, we began our thirteen-week journey of becoming an elder, using Cheshbon HaNefesh, written in 1845 by Rabbi Mendel of Satanov. Published by Feldheim Publishers and can be bought inexpensively on Amazon. Never fail to thank God for the blessings of our time!

The first step on the path of the wise one is EQUANIMITY. It is here that we learn to balance intense love of life with acceptance of our inevitable physical end. We don’t confront this directly. Instead we practice rising above events that are inconsequential–both bad and good–because they are not worth disturbing our equanimity. We learn detachment from this, which is a great idea when you realize that you can’t hold on to your 25 year-old body. “This too shall pass”, King Solomon’s words, becomes our cue to receive what is with calm and serenity.

Last week we imagined the words Menuchat HaNefesh (Resting Being) or Equanimity engraved on our hearts and made the uttering of the words part of our morning practice. So many of us feel unbalanced simply because we don’t let ourselves rest from the constant stream of stimulation that we will all live with. This past week, as often as we could, we stopped and took a breath, remembering to rest the spirt and settle into the comforting place of solid balance.

This Wednesday we’ll build on our steady foundation to explore the word often heard in Israel because it’s seen so rarely: savlanut, which means patience. In this teaching of Rabbi Mendel, it also means tolerance. He defines the word as meaning, “When something bad happens to you and you did not have the power to avoid it, do not aggravate the situation even more through wasted grief.” What tests your patience? How do we develop patience to heal us and take away pain?

When I think of elders in our society, there aren’t many models. When I imagine an elder, that one doesn’t lose balance and has lived long enough to have patience. Hope to see you 16 July, Wednesday at 5:30.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

July 8, 2008
Dear Friends,

I have two IMPORTANT messages for you, so please read the whole letter.

First, I want to add a few words to Cindy’s about about my talented good friend, Hazzan Sunny Schnitzer, who will be taking us on a Shabbat journey July 17-18. He is spiritual leader of Bethesda Jewish Congregation, a Renewal community that shares space with a Presbyterian church near Washington D.C. When HaMakom and St. Bede’s were considering building together, I visited his shul to see how it might work. Sunny also invited me to speak about women spiritual leaders when White Fire was published.

Now we have the pleasure of his presence for a Shabbaton. Besides facilitating our path to the divine through music, Sunny will talk about his adventures in Cuba, where he is working mightily to help sustain its Jewish population. In March he led members of his community on a trip to Cuba for the purpose of hand-delivering their first Torah. Every Jew’s effort to remain Jewish and to maintain its highest and deepest values strengthens us. Come, let us grow strong together, and mark your calendars for Friday night, 18 July at seven p.m., and Saturday morning, 19 July at 9:45 a.m.

I’ve just returned from Ruach HaAretz, a six day Jewish Renewal retreat in central Oregon. While Gay hiked with a group into the natural world to find evidence of the divine, and Solomon and Lesley feasted on the sweetness of so many in the community who see builders in all children and fed them with love, I went to a workshop called From Aging to Sage-ing. Developed by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi as he approached his sixtieth birthday, it is a training for becoming an elder, wisdom keeper, zaken (Hebrew), or grandparent to younger generations.

All civilizations, great and small, have depended upon its senior members for counsel and guidance. We want to travel this path because it’s a better response to aging than the alternatives of denial or resignation. As we age it will be important to believe that not only can we still make a difference but that the world needs us more than ever. Besides my elation in finding a village of kindred spirits who shared my own quest to grow wise, i.e. loving, I thought of our beloved community in which many have lived long enough to be ready for wisdom training.

Since December, many of you have given me the gift of your presence on Wednesday evenings so I could say Kaddish for my mother. May I be there for you when you need me. In memory of my mother and in gratitude for HaMakom, I’ve offered a brief Mussar (ethical) teaching after the service that now has even greater meaning to me. Mussar is a key part of the elder’s wisdom path. The sages know that feeling ecstatically close to God in nature doesn’t come close to keeping one’s temper when wronged.

To walk the talk, I’ve been studying and practicing a nifty system of self-examination and human empowerment devised in the 19th Century by R. Mendel of Satanov. I’ve been following his suggestion to focus upon thirteen traits or spiritual principles, one at a time each week. Each morning after I offer thanks, I speak the trait of the week and ask that I see opportunities to practice it that day. You can do this work at any age, but I feel as if I understand it as I never could have before. So, if you’re skilled in reflection, or if you’ve never had time for it, this is a great day to begin the work of a wisdom keeper.

For the next thirteen Wednesdays that will take us up to the High Holidays, we’ll learn how to hold fast to each trait as it becomes part of us. Beginning this Wednesday night, 9 July at 5:30, we’ll study the first of the traits, the fundamental makom, equanimity. Please join us and help make a summer minyan for those of us saying Kaddish. You’ll be doing a mitzvah as you begin the process of getting a heart of wisdom in preparation for High Holidays and the rest of your life,

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

April 18, 2008
Dear Friends,

At the Wednesday evening minyan, I described how we get rid of hametz, i.e. leavened or fermented grain, to prepare our homes for Passover. We take ten pieces of hametz and hide them in the house. Then we go with a feather, candle, and wooden spoon to retrieve.
The ritual, Bedikat Hametz, is fun for children yet it has deeper possibilities for those of us on the eternal route of becoming better people. We imagine within outselves ten difficulties in our character. Some are connected to pride, to being puffed up like a popover. Maybe we like to be right all the time, maybe we never ask for help. Do I have old angers fermenting within me,? Do vintage memories overshadow the present, turning what was once sweet into vinegar? What am I keeping as part of my identity that is no longer useful? What negativity has begun to have a life of its own within me?
The morning before Pesah, we burn the hametz (this morning this year). I suggested that we write out all the places where hubris gets us into trouble, and where festering resentments and grudges can turn us into bitter and sour people. Burn the piece of paper with the hametz and let it go. We’re all in formation, and the only mistake we can make is to believe that we’ve reached such enlightenment that the practice of looking for internal hametz doesn’t apply to us. Go looking gently, with a feather, and trust that the light of your honesty, courage, and hope in meeting difficulties will reveal what needs to go.
Next Shabbat, 26 April, we will have a Yizkor (memorial) service for those who remember who loved them and whom they loved. Services begin at 9:45 a.m. at St. Bede’s. I look forward to celebrating the first night of Passover at the Museum Café tomorrow night. Meanwhile, enjoy the work of cleaning today, and don’t forget to exhale, “Shabbat Shalom!”

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

April 10, 2008
Dear Friends,

I missed you last Wednesday night, I’m in Santa Barbara because I led a women’s Seder for the Jewish community here. Roughly 200 women, ranging in age from their twenties to late eighties, shared their women ancestors with one another and danced with tambourines around the room at the synagogue. One of the best things about the Seder was that the young woman rabbi who had led the Seders for the past two years sat at the head table with me. Here in Santa Barbara is a model of how different communities, i.e. different families, feel themselves to be part of larger community. Their cooperation and support of one another makes for a strong and loving assembly that God must have had in mind in the verse that asks us to serve as a community with a single heart.

I’ll be home on April 15 in time to be together on Wednesday evening, 16 April. In our hour of power, we will turn our focus away from mussar and the path to individual inventory to our collective vision of Passover. We’ll look at how the story of the holiday can liberate us from old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that no longer are useful. Can we grow our compassion to include the Pharaoh within who uses other people for his own needs? For the Israelites who have become sheep in their resignation? In Moses whose anger flares at the less enlightened? What can we learn from eating matzah?

Saturday morning, 19 April, is Shabbat HaGadol, the great Shabbat. Traditionally, it was one of two Shabbats where the rabbi gave a sermon, the other being Yom Kippur. On the Shabbat before Pesach, the rabbi spoke to clarify how to observe the holiday, e.g. Are artichokes kosher? Do we include the car in our search for leavening?

That night we begin the holiday with our elegant, heimish, Kosher, and joyful Seder at the restaurant on Museum Hill. I hope to see you again and again in the coming week.

Meanwhile, Shabbat Shalom! Do your best to remove leavening from your homes and hearts. May each bite of the flat bread bring us closer to humility, a lessening of ego, and a willingness to enter the wilderness of not knowing much except that God loves us for our imperfect, earnest effort.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

March 25, 2008
Dear Friends,

If you see members of our community walking around with blue rubber bands, do not be concerned and don’t feel left out. We started wearing them after last week’s mussar class that invited us to become intimate with our evil inclination. Each of us knows what the rubber band is to remind us of. Mine connects me to anger and patience this week. I have a long list already. We’re spending a week on one of thirteen traits we’d like to do better with. Therefore, we’ll have four opportunities in the coming year to track our trait of the week.

This Wednesday, we’re going to look at how we feel about fearing God. The sages teach, “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.” Despite our desire to be oh so wise, who wants to give up our path to loving God, whom we may imagine as sitting home with a fresh-baked batch of chocolate chip cookies? Please join us this week for the Hour of Power and let us know how you feel about quaking and trembling before God. You’ll get a blue rubber band—Woody Allen may have had communal prayer in mind when he said that 80 percent of life is showing up.

Last week, at our Purim party, none of us were facing in this direction. We were too busy singing rock and roll and dancing to “My God! Talkin’ about my-y God!” Thanks to all–Atma and Joy for the warmth of your home, Ellie, Ellen, Claire, and Gay for the hamantaschen, and everyone who sacrificed usual dignified appearance to become a motown or Jewish queen. Click this link to see the wild and crazy time. Sometimes it’s really really fun to be a Jew!

Now that the noisemakers and hamantaschen are memory until next year, it’s time to think of tambourines and matzah brittle. I’ve ordered 12 boxes and you’ll be sorry if you don’t try a box. Warning: it’s a little addictive.

Peace and Love,
R. Malka


Volunteers are needed to help with set up at the seder and to assist with checking people in at the door. Please contact Linda Kastner at

MATZA BRITTLE, MATZA BRITTLE, MATZA BRITTLE COMING SOON!!!!!!!!! HaMakom will be having a Matza Brittle Fundraiser. Everyone is invited to gather and prepare the Matza Brittle on Sunday, April 6 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at the home of Rabbi Drucker and Gay Block. We’ll also gather to prepare on Wednesday, April 9 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. We need volunteers who want to have fun and assist in the easy preparation of Matza Brittle. No experience necessary! The sales will support the financial needs of HaMakom. Please contact Erica at 471-9278 and let her know that you’d like to assist.

Wednesday Minyan at 5:30 pm
A weekly weekday minyan takes place each Wednesday at 5:30 pm at St. Bede’s. The brief maa’riv (evening) service provides a minyan for those who are saying mourners Kaddish. The service is followed by a short teaching by Rabbi Malka Drucker. A soothing midweek prayer break between the workday and the evening is comforting and healing for us all. Many have inquired about the books that have been referenced in Rabbi Drucker’s teachings. Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: One Man’s Rediscovery of a Jewish Spiritual Tradition by Alan Morinis and Book of Jewish Values: A Day-By-Day Guide to Ethical Living by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

Shabbat Morning Service at 9:45 am
Each week we celebrate the joy of Shabbat with prayers of gratitude and we delve into the weeks Torah parashah. March 29, we read Sh’mini. Please join us and help assure the presence of a minyan.


Sharon Woods is featured in the latest edition of Santa Fean magazine. As CEO of Woods Architects Builders, Sharon has been creating, building, and restoring homes in Santa Fe for more than 30 years. The home featured in the article earned the 2007 Parade of Homes People’s Choice Award.

Consuelo Luz will be the guest musician for a Shabbaton in Sedona, Arizona with Rabbi Alicia Magal April 4-6.

Mazel Tov to Susan and Lee Berk on the birth of twin granddaughters in Switzerland.

The Torah: A Women’s Commentary a new Torah translation with commentary and interpretation focusing on women has just been published. Rabbi Malka Drucker is one of the contributors. A number of copies are available for sale at the wholesale price. Please e-mail Rabbi Drucker if you’d like to purchase a copy. Copies will be available at the Wednesday evening minyans.

Community Mitzvot
You can support HaMakom all year round by making a donation to one of our funds in honor or in memory of a loved one, or for a special occasion. Donations to HaMakom are greatly appreciated. Please designate which of our funds is to receive your contribution. Thank you to the following for their donations:

Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund
Rachel Rosen in memory of Barbara Zusman

Cantorial Education Fund
Ongoing Donation

We continue to send healing prayers to Irving Warhaftig, Laura Glicken, Robin Silverman and Bill Treiber – Rabbi Malka Drucker’s father.

Wednesdays at 5:30 pm Evening Minyan at St. Bede’s. Approximately 45 minutes.

Sunday, April 6, 3:00-5:30 pm and Monday, April 7, 5:00-7:30 pm
Workshop to create Miriam’s Cup and Seder Plate. At the Painted Dish, 839 Paseo de Peralta. Enjoy a social evening or day with your mother, daughter, or granddaughter. Contact Sue Breslauer, 474-0922.

Sunday, April 13, noon-7:00 pm Women’s Mikveh , Ojo Caliente Hot Springs
Mik’dash. Contact 505-349-4009

April 19, 2008, Saturday, Hamakom First Night Pesach Seder at Museum Hill Café, details soon. Mark Your Calendars Now-click the online purchase button on the left to reserve by credit card.

Thursday, April 24, 5:30 pm, MIRIAM’S SONG, A Woman’s Interfaith and Intergenerational Community Seder on the sixth night of Passover. Sponsored by several Santa Fe communities including HaMakom, Hadassah, Chabad, Congegation Beit Tikveh, Temple Beth Shalom and many individuals, artists, and galleries. Music provided by Cindy Freedman, Meredith Brown and Ruth Singer. All proceeds will go to local organizations which assist women and girls. 982-1376 for reservations.

March 6, 2008
Dear Friends,

Last night we continued our Open Heart Surgery, the new name for the hour of power on Wednesdays at 5:30. Our singing prayers begin the softening of the heart, believe it or not, our default, and then we have our gentle, probing investigation of what layers cover it.

In the last several weeks, we’ve learned to wear rubber bands as reminders each time we grow impatient or angry to stop and consider what we are and what we are doing. We’ve talked about removing the unique foreskin of the heart we each carry by looking deeply into ourselves. We are born with all traits of character in different measure. What makes us who we are is how we choose to shift our natural calibrations.

Are we fearful? Doubtful? Judgmental? Envious? Depending upon which traits we want to shift, we are looking for words or phrases that will remind us throughout the day of who we wish to be. For example, if we forget the miracle of our lives, we might say, “Every living thing shall praise You, Beloved.” If we lack faith in ourselves, “You return my soul to me with faith and abundant compassion” can help. If we have the bad habit of gossip, we might try “Do not go as a tale-bearer.” And for fear, nothing is as good as “You shall not fear the face of anyone.” These pesukim, verses from Scripture, are more than mantras or slogans. They are the rock upon which our feet gratefully find when we find the water reaching our noses.

Joining us on Wednesdays does radically amazing good. You’ll help to make a minyan for those of us who need to say Kaddish. You’ll help yourself to uncover your true heart, and finally, by accomplishing the above two, you’ll participate in repairing the world. Please join us!

This Shabbat at 9:45 a.m., in the library at St. Bede’s, I’ll be leading services while Cindy goes to Houston to be medicine for her father. Once again your presence will be of profound help. If you’re looking to find your way to heaven on earth and above, this is a wonderful way.

The new moon will appear in our starry sky this Friday. It will bring the laughter and joy of Purim. For me this year, each communal and personal celebration is different from any other in my life. Your presence consoles and supports me. I thank each of you who have stood with me in prayer as I learn the new place of living without a mother.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker


MATZA BRITTLE, MATZA BRITTLE, MATZA BRITTLE COMING SOON!!!!!!!!! HaMakom will be having a Matza Brittle Fundraiser. We need volunteers who want to have fun and assist in the easy preparation and sales of Matza Brittle while supporting the financial needs of HaMakom. Erica Zvaifler will chair the project. Please contact Erica at 471-9278 and let her know that you’d like to assist.

Wednesday Minyan at 5:30 pm
A weekly weekday minyan takes place each Wednesday at 5:30 pm at St. Bede’s. The brief maa’riv (evening) service provides a minyan for those who are saying mourners Kaddish. The service is followed by a short teaching by Rabbi Malka Drucker. A soothing midweek prayer break between the workday and the evening is comforting and healing for us all. Many have inquired about the books that have been referenced in Rabbi Drucker’s teachings. Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: One Man’s Rediscovery of a Jewish Spiritual Tradition by Alan Morinis and Book of Jewish Values: A Day-By-Day Guide to Ethical Living by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

Shabbat Morning Service at 9:45 am
Each week we celebrate the joy of Shabbat with prayers of gratitude and we delve into the weeks Torah parashah. This week, March 8, we read Pikudei. Rabbi Malka Drucker will lead the service this week.


The Torah: A Women’s Commentary a new Torah translation with commentary and interpretation focusing on women has just been published. Rabbi Malka Drucker is one of the contributors. A number of copies are available for sale at the wholesale price. Please e-mail Rabbi Drucker if you’d like to purchase a copy. Copies will be available at the Wednesday evening minyans.

Rima Miller is performing in the production Duet: A Rivalry for the Ages, a play about Sarah Bernhardt and Eleanora Duse who were the first megastars of modern theatre. Performances at El Museo Cultural February 22-March 9. Call 455-2340 to reserve tickets.

Community Mitzvot
You can support HaMakom all year round by making a donation to one of our funds in honor or in memory of a loved one, or for a special occasion. Donations to HaMakom are greatly appreciated. Please designate which of our funds is to receive your contribution. Thank you to the following for their donations:

Ruth Anne and Halley Faust extend an ongoing invitation to all who would like to join them in their home on Friday evenings for Kabbalat Shabbat and dinner. They begin gathering at 6:00 pm with Kabbalat Shabbat and dinner begins after that, usually by 7:00 pm. You’re welcome to join in for either or both! Please e-mail Ruth Anne by Wednesday of any week,, or call on Thursday or Friday, as she’s often not checking her computer at the end of the week, to make sure they’re in town and to let them know you’re coming and what you’d like to bring if you’re staying for dinner. They’ll be in Santa Fe through March and they hope you’ll plan to join them.

We continue to send healing prayers to Irving Warhaftig, Laura Glicken, Robin Silverman and Bill Treiber – Rabbi Malka Drucker’s father.

Robin Silverman has returned to Santa Fe following cancer surgery in Houston. She is in need of assistance with meals, visits and errands. Carol is coordinating the schedule for Robin’s needs and can be contacted at 471-0007,

Wednesdays at 5:30 pm Evening Minyan at St. Bede’s. Approximately 45 minutes.

March 17, 2008, Monday at 6:00 pm Continuing Education class presented by Dr. Stanley Hordes. The Sephardic Legacy in New mexico: A History of the Crypto-Jews.
Location: Rainbow Vision

March 20, 2008, Thursday at 6:00 pm HaMakom Purim Celebration!!
Come dressed in your favorite costume and bring hamentaschen for a festive event at the home of Atma Wiseman and Joy Silver.

April 19, 2008, Saturday, Hamakom First Night Pesach Seder at Museum Hill Café, details soon. Mark Your Calendars Now-click the online purchase button on the left to reserve by credit card.

Other Jewish Events Around New Mexico

Thursday, April 24, 5:30 pm, Interfaith Community Women’s Seder on the sixth night of Passover. Sponsored by several Santa Fe communities including HaMakom.
Details soon.