Altar Ego Postings 2009
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December 25, 2009
Dear Ones,

Grandmother Rabbi weighs in on “Avatar” and gives it priestly blessing. Sure, it’s for guys–70 percent of the viewers–and for the young. But I’m a sucker for 3D and the NYT and the New Yorker liked it. It sounded like it could be a cultural phenomenon like 2001 or “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and I wanted to feel part of the world.

I used my greatest powers of persuasion to get my partner and three other women to go with me. The big theater and matching screen worried me. I don’t like violent, despairing, or scary movies, and I didn’t know enough about “Avatar” to be assured we wouldn’t walk out feeling bludgeoned.

No worries. This film healed my heart. When the exotic version of a superhuman from the planet Pandora falls in love with the earthling, instead of “I love you”, she says, “I see you.” I felt seen by the movie. Others may flock to see it for its unprecedented cinematic beauty or the breathtaking battles between good and evil. I see this movie. While its morality may be obvious, the filmmaker has used the medium to speak of spirit and to create religious experience.

I don’t understand a world still attempting to solve its differences by physical domination. The heart of the grandmother grieves at the insensitivity, hardness, and greed practiced by those who destroy the natural world and widen the chasm between the rich and the poor. I am enraged by the world’s increasing injustice in the name of security. If you’re nodding, go see this movie not to be further enraged and frustrated but to see the vision of an interconnected world. It illustrates the verse, “God is one.”

The first minutes of the film show hundreds of soldiers learning how to infiltrate the Na’vi, the indigenous people of the planet who mistrust and attack the “sky people” (the “white men” of the future). The Na’vi, which means “prophet” in Hebrew, have reason to fear the earthlings who have killed their Mother earth and need to raid other planets for their resources. Pandora has a magic mineral, unobtanium, and it sits under the tree of souls, where the natives live. Don’t picture these heightened beings, much taller and stronger than earthlings, like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Beefy and swaggering is out, sinewy and graceful is in.

Big doesn’t win on Pandora, and again there is ancient resonance. The most powerful don’t win the day in the Holy Scriptures. Jacob, the second son, gets the blessing; Ruth and Naomi, the weakest in society, save the people and provide the messiah’s lineage; and the Jews themselves, who have no explanation for why or how they have survived as a miniscule, eternally despised and feared people, remain a mysterious and living witness to the world’s memory.

The hero in the collective dream of the Jewish people is not only the dark horse, but sometimes a downright lout like Samson. Or Bilaam, who is ordered to curse Israel but when he opens his mouth, out come praises. Same in “Avatar.” Its hero begins as a double agent, working for the Army to get the Na’vi’s secrets. The most enlightened in that community see him as a force for good: little diaphanous jellyfish settle on him as evidence.

Another profound thing about this movie is how our hero gets enlightened. He doesn’t physically go anywhere. No one external to him tells him anything. It is the imaginal world that takes him on a ride of rebirth. While we’re watching his “dream” on Pandora where he cavorts, fights, and falls in love, our hero is inside a mummy-like chamber. This is the mystic’s journey into the world of hazon, or vision. It is a burning bush, a sea splitting, and a shared experience of the divine. It is for all of us who have sensed the God-field yet doubt its reality.

“Avatar” sees women, interconnection, and wholeheartedness in a broken world. I see this movie. You should, too. Never forget that the last gift of Pandora’s box is indispensable to survival: hope.

Peace and Love
Rabbi Malka Drucker
Hanukkah 2009

December 2009
Dear Ones,

Happy Hanukkah! I hope that your nights so far have been brightened by the candles of the season, both within and without. Of all the messages and lessons of our eight day holiday, my grandchildren helped me to keep it simple. “Just five more days, Tata!” Lesley exulted when I got off the plane. I knew she was talking about Hanukkah.

Her words transported me to the childhood celebrations of the holiday. The wonderfully violent scary story, the pretty rainbow candles, crunchy latkes, gambling with the dreidel, and of course, the pile of presents by the fireplace with my name on it. I’m sure that one of the lessons is to remember such joy and never to let it leave us.

There is much to say about Hanukkah from historical, ethical, spiritual perspectives, yet this year this is the gift I want this Hanukkah: to look forward with the joy of a five year-old and to remember that the highest wisdom is joy. (For past thoughts on the holiday, choose the “Holidays” link).

We ask each day for a renewal of energy and vision, and we recognize the righteous by their young hearts. Despite personal and communal heartache, losses, and struggle, those who keep the biggest picture and don’t give up are righteous. Ordinary people might succumb to the temptation to give up. The Maccabbees are the ones who kept fighting despite impossible odds.

Hanukkah has few rules and that’s part of what makes it so cheery and laidback–you can light candles after sundown, you can work, and you can cook. It may seem like a lot of latke days, but maybe, if we’re going to feel like children during Hanukkah, we might dust off a board game or a deck of cards if we haven’t played in a while. The rabbis tell us to enjoy the light of the candles for its beauty and not to count your money by it. Eight nights of pleasure. Try it. It might have a future that we eagerly anticipate.

Hag Urim Sameah! Lighten up at Hanukkah!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

Dear Friends,

I’m giving thanks for being home for Thanksgiving after returning from New York to see Julian called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah. The weekend also bore witness of God’’s presence through the resiliency of a family shaken by tragedy that has lived to celebrate life again.

Every year I’m delighted by a delicious linguistic coincidence (if you believe in coincidence) that brings Jews front and center into the Thanksgiving narrative. Hodu in Hebrew means thanksgiving. It also means India, so somehow the misnamed first Americans are embedded into Hebrew in the word that is connected with thanks. There is more. If you check out “hodu” on Wikipedia, it tells you that it is the word for turkey! For those who are less mystical and still want a Jewish connection to the American holiday, many believe that the first Thanksgiving, organized by Old Testament pilgrims, was inspired by the eight-day fall harvest holiday we know as Sukkot. And then there is the native American long house that resembles the sukkah…

After the tryptophan repast that includes the parade, it will be a great pleasure to delve into the Torah portion this week, Va-Yetzei. On Thursday we celebrate homecoming and our gratitude for shelter in a new land. On Shabbat we weep, mourn, and worry with our father Jacob, who must leave home to become a complete human being. Until now he has been a quiet tent dweller, his mother’s favorite and director of his deceit. It takes him twenty years before his depression ends and he finds God by facing his past.

The night he leave home, he sets his head on a stone–a hint of his despair–dreams of a ladder that touches both heaven and earth, and “the angels of God were going up and down on it.” The rabbis caught the strangeness of the image: shouldn’t angels start in heaven and descend first? Perhaps the order Jacob dreamed reveals his future. The descending angels are messengers from on high in the form of his family. His encounters with them will awaken the descending angels within himself to guide and teach him patience, courage, and honesty.

Looking forward to studying with you this Shabbat morning!

Shabbat Shalom! Happy Thanksgiving!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

NOVEMBER 5, 2009
I’m en route to watch our grandson, Julian, step up to the plate as a Bar Mitzvah next Shabbat. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him grow strong and upright and it will be a joy to celebrate his new status in the community. The day will take on special meaning as the family shares its gratitude for the capacity to heal from tragedies and to return to life and its delights. Some call this gift God. However we experience and understand such transformation, may we always remember it, especially when life breaks our hearts. As we kvell over the Bar Mitzvah boy,

I’ve missed you all and it’s strongest on Shabbat. I look forward to being with you 20 November. As I studied Va-Yera, the Torah portion this week, I longed to share with you the questions and images the rich narrative suggested, so I’ll do the next best thing and bless our moment in time that allows for magical and invisible transmission via the Internet.

Va-Yera, which means “and [God] appeared”, opens with an arresting picture of an ancient man nursing a fresh circumcision in the heat of the day in the Middle East. When God comes to visit Abraham and cheer him up, which teaches us to visit the sick, he’s sitting not at the back of the tent where it is cool and shady but at the opening of the tent by the “terebinths of Mamre.” Perhaps it is the rootedness and sweetness of the cashew tree that guides the patriarch to his choice of makom [place]. (Sitting by trees is a favorite pastime of many teachers, including Siddhartha and Deborah).

How and when God appears to us, when we glimpse and when we miss the Presence, and what we learn from the encounter, is what defines us individually and collectively. In the middle of the godly visit, Abraham looks up and sees three men standing near him. Without even a “Selicha!” [excuse me] he leaves God to run and meet the visitors to offer water, a washing of the feet, a place to rest, and a feast. The traditional reading of this is that even though God came to be with Abraham to console him, God has chosen Abraham to be the first Jew because of a tender heart that compels him to reach out to three who would be wandering in the desert at a dangerous time of day.

Abraham’s innate empathy leads him to be our first teacher of holy hospitality. Perhaps this is why God chose Abraham to be the first Jew. It is the tender heart that we all are called to emulate. When we feel the need of another, we are to run to help him or her, even if we’re communing with God, and we should place ourselves at the opening of the tent where we cannot miss an opportunity to help.
The rabbis make the point again and again that we are not being with God if we don’t open ourselves to one another. We are to take care that when we put on a tallit not to smack the person next to us with the fringes. The one who studies all day and has no time to be a friend won’t be able to fulfill the mitzvah of hospitality during Sukkot.

We can also learn from this how powerful a visit to the sick can be. God heals Abraham with God Presence and therefore Abraham can help another in need. I don’t know anyone recently who has been graced, like Abraham, with God’s appearance, yet I know that when I am in pain and someone cares enough to be with me and listen to my cry, I am with God. It works the other way, too. When I am absorbed by plans and busyness, God gets left behind. Maybe I’ll race up to the hospital to visit someone. As I’m washing my hands outside the door, I suddenly glimpse the one in bed. She would give a lot to be where I am right now. The hope and courage in her eyes brings me closer to God than I’ve been all day. I remember that the Shechinah dwells at the head of the sickbed.

Finally, it could be that Abraham left God to be with the three men because it wasn’t helping. It was too much about Abraham. Intuitively he knew that only by reaching out to another in need could he be healed from his own pain. Much as we dream of being on the mountaintop with God, life is with people. This is where God wants us, and this is where God will be most deeply found. Any time you have a chance to daven with others, take it. You’ll have eternity to be alone with God. While you’re here, sit and wait for God, and do it where you’ll find God between you and the one who may be standing beside you.

All this from the first paragraph of a portion that includes incest and near chlld sacrifice! If life isn’t juicy enough these days, or it’s too juicy with difficulty, come and learn each Shabbat morning from the cosmic ancestors who seem to have been everywhere and have done everything.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
October 9, 2009
Dear Ones,

Wonderful news! Tomorrow night brings the holiday that we’ve been waiting for all year, the day that reveals God’s essence, and the climax of the holiest month of the year. It’s the day that reminds us that the highest wisdom is joy, and the mitzvah not only on this day but every day is to experience joy. On Simhat Torah, the joy explodes from one radically amazing awareness: we can always return to our highest selves, which means our relationship with God is indestructible. Halleluyah!

If you’re into joy, please join us Saturday night, 10 October at 7 PM At St. Bede’s. Here is how we bring on the joy: We dance seven dances around the Torah to awaken the energies that draw us closer to God. Some of us know this as complete mindfulness. We unfurl the entire Torah, the only time we do this, and read from the end and the beginning. Its great circle reminds us of the cycle of the year and of our lives. Like any good book we are sad to read its end, but with the Torah we get to read it again each year, because it is our ever new tree of life.

The Gerer rebbe explained what the Torah has to do with joy: A man fell from a boat into the sea: the captain of the vessel threw him a rope and shouted, “Take hold of this rope and do not let go; if you do, you will lose your life.” The rebbe then remarked: This story explains the verse (Proverbs 3:18): “It is a tree of life to all who grasp it.” The Torah is a tree of life to them that grasp it. If you let go of her, you will lose your life.

Five years ago Rima Miller looked around the circle holding the sacred words and said that there are no accidents. Each person was standing in front of a particular text that had meaning for them. I accepted the invitation and searched for the thread between the letters and the person holding them. This has become a part of our celebration.

Many of us practice the custom of drinking to increase the joy on Simhat Torah. Please bring your drink of choice, alcoholic or otherwise.

Shabbat Shalom! (Would love to see you Shabbat morning, too!) Moadim l’Simha!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

Oct. 8, 2009
From Rabbi Malka Drucker
Santa Fe Hadassah has asked me to present a lecture series  based on my newest book ‘Women and Judaism.’  Part 1 will occur this Sunday October 11th. Individual lectures are $12 for Hadassah members and $15 for non-members.  Lectures start at 10 AM. Please RSVP to Reggie Klein at 505.438.8150.
“‘Women and Judaism’ carries an intention to do more than bring the reader new ideas to ponder. For Jewish women, it’s a charge to claim and re-claim their rightful place in their tradition. For non-Jewish sisters, we hope that it encourages you to bring change in your traditions as you learn of our effort to be counted as full members of an ancient spiritual community.

October 1, 2009
Dear Friends,

Please join us tomorrow (Friday, Oct 2) to decorate the sukkah from one to three p.m. At St. Bede’s. We have fruit, paper rings, photographs, and new year cards, but it’s not enough. Please bring something to complete the harvest of our community. For those of us who envied friends who decorated a tree inside their houses in the winter, this is just the right repair. There is no such thing as an over-adorned sukkah!

Rabbi Malka Drucker

If you are coming to the Sukkot service this Sunday, October 4th, 11.45am at St. Bede’s, we would appreciate if you could bring a salad or dessert. Thank you.

September 30, 2009
Dear Ones,

The moon grows full in the days after Yom Kippur, as we feel a fullness of satisfaction from the Days of Awe and Hope. As we reflect on the physical and metaphysical experience of those days, may our spirits become joyful as we celebrate the harvest of our lives. For those who doubted that their lives were worth much, I hope the High Holidays helped you see yourself in the Image. For those who were complacent and content, I hope the High Holidays offered just enough chill to move you inward and upward. Below are events to consider with your newly born souls:

Thursday night, 1 October, at 7:15 in the Beit Midrash (library) at St. Bede’s, we are having our first meeting about our upcoming trip to ISRAEL: THE INNER AND OUTER JOURNEY. Rob Elliot, Cindy Freedman, and I will all be on the trip and working to make it full of meaning, wonder, and hope. This team is also committed to a smooth and pleasant physical experience. If you have any interest in the trip, please join us to receive full itineraries and to ask questions.

Shabbat morning, 3 October, marks the peak of the joy with the beginning of the longest holidays of the Jewish year, Sukkot. Once it was the grandest of festivals, called the Season of our Joy, HaHag, the Holiday. We need it no less today. Irving Wiseman, father of Atma Wiseman, our beloved president, will leyn the Haftarah from Zecharia 14. We will enjoy Kiddush in our sukkah, built on the grounds at St. Bede’s – thanks to Ron Duncan-Hart and helpers – after davening. Service begins at 9.45am.

Sunday, 4 October at 11:45am we have invited St. Bede’s congregation to join us for a Sukkot celebration and luncheon. Sukkot is the most universal of our holidays, one that commands that we open our sukkot, homes, and hearts to one another: it is the mitzvah of hospitality first practiced by Abraham. We dream of the day when all nations will sit under the great Sukkat Shalom, the tent of peace. To that end, HaMakom would like to get the cosmic ball rolling by breaking bread with our dear friends and comrades at St. Bede’s. Please join us in repairing the world over a bowl of soup.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
September 24, 2009 Dear HaMakom Family,

In the days after Rosh Hashanah, such glorious days in Santa Fe, I hear the cosmic echo of what we experienced together. The minute-long blast of the shofar, the songs and their voices, and the pleasure of being with each of you, are just a few of the ways the Holy One stays close to me in these profound, poignant, and tender Days of Awe. Thank you.

Some of you have asked where the sermons are. They will all be on our web site:

On Sunday night, we will join for Kol Nidre, the beginning of the highest and deepest day of the Jewish year. On Yom Kippur, we touch the holiest part of ourselves. Like the High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies only on this day, we have opportunity to enter our personal Holy of Holies. However we understand the moment when we know connection and the Beloved’s light shines on us, we know that this is what we live for.

On Yom Kippur, we bring our holiest part to enter the holiest place on the holiest day, and we do this by removing as much of the physical world as we can. We imagine ourselves as angels, with none of our human desires. One day a year we fast and pray together to feel closest to our essence, to feel ourselves as sacred, to imagine ourselves in the image of God. Yom Kippur gives us a taste of who we were born to be, and if we take it in, we’ll never live the same way again.

Before coming to the synagogue, we have a custom of lighting a Yahrzeit (memorial) candle to remember our dead:

As I light this candle, I remember_______________, who have journeyed from this world into the love, eternity, and mystery we call You. With gratitude I recall all that I have learned from them, most of all, the lesson and blessing of their love for me. May these memories become part of me and grow in me to make me more loving. May God who remembers them in abundant faithfulness, let them be my loving guides and friends all my life.

Here are a few sartorial suggestions for Kol Nidre and the next day. Please wear a tallit; it is the only evening of the year when it is appropriate to wear one. Even though it’s after Labor Day, the color of the day is white 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.

L’shanah Tovah Tichateimu! May your good and sweet year be sealed with a kiss!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

PS-here is an example of what we’re aiming to be: doing even more than the right thing and acknowledging such behavior. Yafa Chase wrote the following to us:
During this week in which we are especially called to model the kind of person we want to be, I want to salute Ellie Edelstein, who was an expression of G-d in the world when she said yes to helping a woman in need. The woman, Beth Rickey, sadly died before Ellie could meet with her but Ellie’s commitment to helping a person who had done so much for our world is an example to me on how to be the best expression of G-d we can be. The Washington Post and Washington Times mention Ellie not by name but as a philanthropist ready to help. Thank You Ellie and Hamakom for your commitment to making a difference.


WHY ISRAEL Rosh Hashanah Morning 5770 Rabbi Malka Drucker
When I began to think about the future of Judaism, I asked friends what came to mind for them. Some said the community had to become more accepting of non-Jewish partners, others mentioned the importance of education, and a few mentioned the need for a Judaism with heart. No one mentioned what I’m going to talk about this morning, which is Israel. Why Israel at all? For many in the sanctuary, Israel is thousands of miles away and has little to do with our lives in Santa Fe. The very word stirs deep emotions that are complicated. You may be wondering what Israel has to do with the future of anything, including itself. How could you think otherwise if your only knowledge comes from the media, and the first words that come to mind when you think of Israel are war, occupation, and settlements? Why would you want anything to do with such a place, especially when your Jewishness involuntarily connects you with this bellicose place?

My intention this morning is to give you a more expansive picture of the land, one that is not political or propagandist, but admittedly personal. I’m going to tell you about the Israel I love and why I see it as key to the future of Judaism. Like a long marriage with its challenges, for decades I’ve had moments when I just want to excise this relationship from my heart. Yet I know this: if I’m a Jew, Israel is part of my life. All Jews have fractional ownership in Israel: we each get a little piece of it as our collective inheritance. It is ours for free, and the only hitch is that we can’t walk away from it. To be a Jew is to support Israel’s unconditional right to exist. No other country has its statehood challenged, and nor should Israel. Just this past week the Toronto Film Festival had protesters objecting to Israeli films being shown about Tel Aviv. They called it “contested ground” in an “apartheid state.”

I’ve called this talk “Why Israel?” Why do we need a Jewish homeland? When I was a child, I’d know what subjects were not for everyone to hear by the tone of my parents’ voices. When they spoke about a certain kind of woman or if they said “Jewish” in public, they dropped their voices–and this was in New York. It wasn’t until later that I understood why they did this. Israel was why I didn’t grow up with my parents’ fear: I had a place to go. Because Israel and I are of the same generation, I’ve never known the insecurity of earlier generations, and I don’t want to. Imagining a world without Israel is like living in a world without a room of one’s own. History has shown us what it is like always to live at the mercy of one’s host country.

I had been raised to love Israel, where Jews looked like Paul Newman, where women fought alongside men in an army that was powerful, egalitarian, and moral. I dropped coins into the Jewish National Fund blue box each week to plant trees for my noble brothers and sisters. The social experiment of the kibbutzim, the scientific advances, and the resurrection of a nearly beaten people meant a great deal to a child growing up in a country where Jews were rarely players outside home or synagogue. I learned in Hebrew school that the late 19th century settlers were pioneers no less heroic than Davy Crockett. They drained swamps, built hospitals, and made the desert bloom. Jews, ground for centuries by poverty, illiteracy, and illness, began to dream of a country where Jews could be free to live as equal citizens. They believed more in God’s people than God. They chose the language of the Bible, Hebrew, for their everyday communication. I dreamed of visiting this heroic place where everyone spoke Hebrew. Our teachers gave us a rosy impression of our Arab neighbors who were like our cousins. That wasn’t the whole picture. Besides the 30,000 who died in the War of Independence, we paid a great price for statehood. For the first time in two thousand years, we had power and were players in a very imperfect world. We shed our innocence and recognized that that guilt would be part of our lives. We would commit violent and sometimes wrong acts. How would the new nation reflect the values of Judaism? Holocaust scholar Rabbi Irving Greenberg writes, “Despite the sense of victimization that drove Jewry, the new Jewish consensus insisted–with Israel’s at the forefront–that the newly won Jewish power must be used with ethical restraint. Ethical power maximizes possible good (and life) and minimizes possible evil (and death).” Every soldier would study an ethical code that states: “Israeli army servicemen and women will use their weapons only for the purpose of their mission, only to the extent necessary and will maintain their humanity even during combat.” Golda Meir said to Nasser after the 73 war, “I will forgive you killing my children, but I will not forgive you turning them into murderers.”

Few know about the ethical bedrock and lofty ideals upon which the state was built. The events of the last thirty years have made the story of Israel more nuanced. What I’m describing is its idealistic intention. But it won’t be enough. You need to be there to see past, present, and future. Only a visit can give you evidence for hope. I’m talking about Israel not only to whet your curiosity about it. HaMakom is taking a trip to Israel this year, and I look forward to being with you on a journey of abundant surprises.

I first visited Israel with my rabbi, Harold Schulweis, in 1979. It was a wonderful year to visit, the beginning of the first peace accord with Egypt, and everyone was filled with hope. Rabbi Schulweis took about 35 people from his synagogue on an odyssey that would change the life of at least one person, me. Frankly, the main draw of the trip for me was to be with the rabbi and watch him tie his shoelaces for ten days.

What I came away with was not only radical amazement in seeing how a country was born from the ashes of the Holocaust, but in seeing that human beings can surmount tragedy to live and love again. I was in a country where children came first, where kibbutzim made bomb shelters into beautiful alternative music spaces, and where both science and the arts flourished. All the while I was standing upon land that had been claimed by many peoples and that had absorbed much blood. Israel is a deep country with layers of civilizations that are part of its life today. All I’d known of the country before I walked it had been the surface. History began to come alive as I stood where it had taken place. I was walking where Abraham and Sarah had walked when the land was called Canaan. To know Israel is feel it vertically through your feet. We are a nation of walkers. Our three big holidays, Pesah, Shavuot, and Sukkot, are called the regalim, which means feet. We walked to Jerusalem three times a year. We walked from Israel to Egypt to escape starvation and we remained there until Moses led us to the land God promised Abraham. It took forty years and our shoes never wore out. When we walked home, we named the land Israel. The name comes from Jacob, renamed Israel after he faced his shadow. He wrestled with it until dawn and wouldn’t let go until the shadow named him. His name became Israel, the one who wrestles with God, and he prevailed. Some of that spirit still lives in the country named for him. A few hundred years later King Solomon built a great Temple in Jerusalem in the land his father, David, had conquered. It was no match for its many invaders and in 586 b.c.e the Babylonians destroyed the Temple and forced the people into exile. Their feet brought them home again to build a Second Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 c.e. We didn’t return to the land for two thousand years. We wandered went from country to country, looking for a safe place where we could be Jews. The Torah, always with us, became our homeland in reminding us of where we once lived. Whether we were in India, Bolivia, or the Bronx, we prayed towards Jerusalem, and we never stopped praying that the scattered remnant of the people would return one day to the land. Around 130 years ago the return began, and young Jews left the pogroms for the land of milk and honey they had read about in Torah. They had read Theodor Herzl’s book about Palestine becoming a Jewish homeland. Although he wasn’t remotely religious, he saw this as a solution to anti-Semitism. Tailors became farmers in the new social experiment that would return us to the land. What they found was not the land described in the Bible but an arid, stony wilderness. Not all the citizens of Palestine rejoiced in the return. Arabs had no wish for the flag to change from Great Britain to Israel. When the United Nations, in 1948, agreed to partition the land between Jews and Arabs, the Jews accepted it but the Arabs didn’t. War broke out on the day of independence. Despite having no weapons and being attacked by several countries, the Israelis defended their borders, and each subsequent military victory became part of the Israeli mystique. This is the legacy that Israel struggles with today, to find a path to peace without war. I’ve been to many places that I wish I would revisit, and I rarely do. When I left Israel, I knew I’d be back. After living there in 1985, the connection was even stronger. Was it the falafel, the Jerusalem summer nights with a cobalt sky, the beauty of the ancient city built of limestone, or my brave and idealistic Israeli friends who had become a different kind of Jew? They had become effortless Jews, no longer acutely aware of their difference from the majority and careful about their behavior. They were living in a country that followed a Jewish calendar, had kosher food, and flew a flag with a Star of David. They had chosen to live with war and less comfort, and I saw it in their eyes. Ever since my trip with Rabbi Schulweis, I’ve wanted to take my friends to Israel, because I knew it made a difference in Jewish lives that cannot be described. Our trip will take us to the natural beauty of the land as well as visiting ancient sites and modern cities. You’ll meet people like Lusia Schimmel, our Polish translator who survived the camps to raise a family; Alice and Moshe Shalvi, Orthodox peace activists and feminists who made aliyah over fifty years ago; and Jacob and David Gilat, the “boys”, now in their seventies, I wrote about in Jacob’s Rescue. We’ll also visit with our Palestinian and Jewish friends from Creativity for Peace. I could go on and describe the wild flowers and blooming almond trees, the kibbutz we will stay at, the artists we’ll meet, but I’ll stop. If you’re interested, we have flyers in the lobby. Our intention is to give you a profound experience that will enlighten, clarify and strengthen your relationship to Judaism, its people, and yourself. We also expect to have a terrific time. I hope you’ll join us for a life-changing trip.
September 8, 2009
Dear Ones,

It was radically amazing to daven last Shabbat with over fifty of us in attendance! The Beit Midrash was packed with new and old friends as we sang, sat quietly, wrestled with how we can achieve at least one of the thirteen ways of lovingkindness, and then moved into a magnificent luncheon offered by Marcia and Len Torobin.

Now we continue to move through Elul, the month of opportunity to lighten ourselves of the past year and make room for a new voice within us, and today is the 18th of Elul, with twelve days before Rosh Hashanah. 18 equals life in Hebrew, and this day adds life into the month that draws nearer to the Beloved One. The last twelve days of the month correspond to the twelve months of the year. Each day brings the possibility to reflect upon and correct any shortcomings in the corresponding month of the past year. Did you go to High Holiday services last year? Send in your membership forms today to correct last year!

This Saturday night, I look forward to continuing our conversation that we began last Shabbat about forgiveness. We talked about everything from forgiving friends to forgiving Ted Kennedy. Do our good deeds erase our bad ones? Please join us if you’re members, thinking about it, or are just curious. We’ll look forward to seeing you and will forgive you if you don’t show up.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker (*written on the 18th of Elul, September 7)
August 19, 2009
Dear Ones,

Tonight will be very beautiful, an almost moonless night of stars, where we see the new moon of Elul. This is the beginning of the High Holidays. It is the month of desire, the Holy One’s wish to be close to us. The metaphor is of the monarch leaving the palace to enter the garden where we may meet. The month’s name is an acronym for Ani l’dodi v’dodi li, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. It is the most romantic of months, when we feel the end of summer and the beginning of fall touch. Love awakens us from the numbness of buried sorrows, resentments, and forgotten dreams. Together we move toward a birth of a new spirit in the new year.

It is the custom to begin blowing the shofar each morning this month for forty days, until Hoshanah Rabbah during Sukkot. I’ll be meditating each morning at seven and davening at 7:30. I’d love company! Join me at home any day but Shabbat at my home for a great way to start the day and the coming new year.

Tomorrow night, Thursday, August 20, from 5:30-7:00 pm, I’ll be teaching about the potency of this month and the High Holidays in the Bet Midrash (library) at St. Bede’s. Elul is the time for personal reflection and spiritual preparation for the New Year. This is the time of year that we celebrate the ability to change, and it is the season for contemplating more intimate relationship with the Beloved and with one another.

It is the season of asking forgiveness. We have a powerful technology, teshuvah (repentence) to guide us towards honesty, openness, and willingness to accept ourselves and others. This is the time to look at difficult relationships and to see if there is a way to repair them and move lightly and brightly into the New Year.

If my words aren’t enough to move you, listen to the urgency of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in describing the cosmic content of Elul: “The summer is drawing to its close. The earth receives the final glow of the sun and its fruits approach their full maturity. Everything that grows and lives seeks to extract the maximum benefit from the last rays of the year. The apple paints itself with its final shade of red, the wine receives its richest sparkle. The ground gives its last sap, the cornstalks grow to their limit. The bee seeks the last drop of honey in the flower before it vanishes. The squirrel drags the last grain of corn to his winter store. The returning swallow carries the last straw to the nest. There is no time to be lost; the end is in sight. The Master will soon call…”

We’ve been an urban people so long that we need Hirsch’s words to remind us that the natural world is our book of wisdom. Careful observation of the outer world reveals clues about our inner world. The scent of an early fall morning tells us, “Wake up! Life isn’t a dress rehearsal! If not now, when?”

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

July 28, 2009
Dear Ones,

Yesterday, 27 July, was the first year secular anniversary of Owen’s death. The unveiling that took place yesterday had been planned and dreaded for months, a day for which no one had any experience. The strain on the family was visible and understandable in the days just before.

The day greeted us gently, clear and dry. We walked to the country cemetery here in Woodstock and the family was joined by fifty or more people. If anything can help you through tragedy, it’s those who show up at such times. Alison and Stephane acknowledged the importance of those who stood by them, told them Owen stories, listened to theirs, and kept them in life. Their remarks revealed the pain and wisdom that suffuses their lives forever changed by losing Owen. On his gravestone are the words: Owen Simon Gerson, 16 October 1999-27 July 2008. See his smile, hear his laugh, feel his kiss. Remember this beautiful boy.

Owen reminds us to love all children and childhood even more. Julian is now almost thirteen. He spoke about his brother’s fear of being alone with great openness and insight. He is a brave young man, and few of us heard his brilliant and heartbreaking words without tears. He spoke of a faith that his brother wasn’t alone now and didn’t speak of his own aloneness. May Owen continue to be his family’s blessing in their strength, openness, and generosity. I also must say: for all the good that has come because of the tragedy, even if that good were multiplied so that enough people changed and the world no longer knew war, hunger, or fear-it still wouldn’t be worth losing Owen.

Each year at this time I speak about the Three Weeks of Caution. This year I didn’t warn you and I pray that nothing terrible has happened in this time. This is the last day of caution as we descend into the vessel that will hold the burden of our grief, Tisha B’Av. Together we create a place to enter sorrow, acknowledging sadness that we may vainly push away but shadows us. I’m offering two links about these days and the Ninth of Av that culminates them TISHA B’AV and A Time of Caution

In the kaleidoscope of the the Jewish year that reflects the richness of human emotions, Tisha B’Av, is the saddest day of the year, the day of the Temples’ destruction. As I describe in these short essays, much horror has come in this time and particularly on that day.

Each of us has personal memory of a time when you felt destroyed. We remember such times because we’re still here to remember it, and we remember to acknowledge that we are not whole. I will be in Woodstock fasting and reciting Lamentations tomorrow night. If a few want to gather to do this, that would be good.

What is as important as remembering to mourn our losses is to rejoice. One of the happiest days of the year falls just six days after the Black Fast, the 15th of Av, when courtship among the eligible Israelites took a spirited turn as the community began to prepare for the High Holidays. Onward and upward!
Hazak (be strong!)

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker


HaMakom Shabbat Service Saturday at 9:45 am
We join together to honor Shabbat and sing, pray and study Torah. This week’s parsha, V’Etchanan, tells the story of Moses’ plea to enter the Promised Land. It goes on to recount the Ten Commandments, and also gives us the Shema, our central prayer that affirms the Unity of God. Bagels, coffee and community schmooz follow service.

Hazzan Cindy Freedman
June 30, 2009
Dear Friends,

The tragedy of the four teenagers who were killed in a car accident has touched our entire community. For the families and friends of the victims, it will be part of their lives forever. One of the victims was Jewish and a member of Congregation Beit Tikva. The funeral is tomorrow at Beit Tikva at one p.m. tomorrow. We’ll let you know if there will be a Shivah.

Some of us noticed that we saw Kate Klein’s name more prominently than the others. I believe this is natural. When we read the paper, that which touches us personally is what we see first. We imagine it could have been our own child. This initial reaction awakens us to the death of all children.

Last night over seventy of us from all the Jewish communities gathered to hear Mati Milstein talk about Israel. I’ve known Mati (Karen and Phil Milstein’s son) since he was in his early twenties. His parents are so proud of him and they kvelled last night at his informative presentation. I thought of the young people who died and the promise every child brings not only to its parents but to the world. When a child dies, so do the hopes of the parents. May the lives of these children remind us how precious life is and help us never to take for granted our well-being. In this place we are called to be a shelter for those who are not as lucky as we are today. May God comfort the grieving families with all the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
June 26, 2009
Dear Friends,

Please remember that HaMakom has three soul-satisfying moments in the next three days:

Help us turn Friday night into Shabbos by joing us tonight for a musical Kabbalat Shabbat service at 7 pm at St. Bede’s. Please bring anything from home that says something about your connection to the Jewish people and Judaism. We are a people created from stories, and we’d love to hear yours when you describe how you chose your object.

2.   Tomorrow morning at 9:45 we continue to celebrate the Day of Delight with services, a Torah study that will discuss Korah, the man who challenged Moses. Lox and bagels will follow enlightenment.

3.   At the last minute we were able to get Mati Milstein, Phil and Karen’s son, to speak to us about what’s going on in Israel from his perspective as a journalist and soldier, on Monday, 29 June, 7 p.m. at St. Bede’s.

Please support our community and your inner journey by showing up. As Reb Woody Allen teaches, “80 percent of life is showing up.”

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
June 23, 2009
Dear Friends,

Please join us this Friday night at 7:00 p.m. to celebrate the wonderful moment when we exhale and let the work of the week fall away. It’s called Kabbalat Shabbat, the receiving of the seventh day, the day of delight. We’ll enrich the celebration with a summer harvest of inviting the community to bring something that you connect to that calls and keeps you close to Judaism. It can be a ritual object, a photograph, a letter, or something given to you by a beloved friend. We’ll share our stories and listen to how new Torah gets written every day. We meet in the library at St. Bede’s.

Shabbat begins on sundown Friday and lasts 25 hours. No other day has a name in Hebrew and it’s the day of the week that we wait for like rain in summer. While it’s counterintuitive in our society to “waste” time and to be unproductive, those of us who have a Shabbos habit long for the music, the shelter, the ideas, and the chance to go deep in ourselves with or without words. Yes, I’m selling, for my sake and yours. Many come to Shabbat once or twice and sigh, “This is good. I’ll be back.” But then the flea market calls…As my mother would advise when I couldn’t decide, “How will you feel afterwards?” Before you sink your teeth into a lox and cream cheese bagel after the service, you’ll know you’ve made the right decision.

Shabbat is the first wireless device God gave us for cosmic communication. Please set aside all that wires you for a little while and join us Saturday for the best day of the week at 9:45 a.m. in the library at St. Bede’s. Although the tradition teaches that it is good to come to services early and leave late, we’re happy to see you, whenever you arrive.
Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

June 4, 2009
Dear Friends,

It was glorious to see so many of you at the wedding of Israel and God last Thursday night on Shavuot. We stood near the huppah and heard the beautiful chant of the Ten Suggestions channeled by Yafa Chase. Kiddush followed at our house and many stayed late into the night.

Just as the Israelites had never stood at the foot of Mount Sinai before, so we at HaMakom had never been together past 11 p.m. Despite the challenge of staying up all night for the Leyl Tikkun Shavuot in our clean living community, seven of us buoyantly and gratefully greeted the dawn rising over Sun and Moon Mountain with blintzes and the Shema after a profound night of learning, revealing, singing, and meditation. Doris Francis began the evening’s teachings by telling us how ancient cycads (she brought two) are like the Jewish people, primordial and endangered. Beth Surdut led us into family stories that, like Torah, carry many meanings, some of which take a lifetime to reveal. Susan Marcus, Schia Muterperl, Martin Levy, a retired rabbi who is a professional figure skater, and Consuelo Luz continued to enlighten us, and each presentation flowed perfectly into the next. If you speak to those of us who were at Sinai Santa Fe this Shavuot, you may have to join us next year.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you this Shabbat, where we will bring what we saw at Shavuot into our davening and study of Naso (Ex. 4:21-7-89). In this portion, we learn how our tradition deals with issues of trust and fidelity, and ultimately transcends superstition and magic.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

April 28, 2009
Dear Friends,

I’ve just come from a parlor meeting on behalf of the Israel Policy Forum, an American Jewish group that advocates for a two-state solution. Tom Dine, former AIPAC Executive Director and now a spokesperson for IPF, expressed how grateful he is for Obama’s pro-active interest in bringing diplomatic solution to the Middle East. While he believes that it is a time of great opportunity for progress, he mused that Netanyahu may not have the right chemistry with Obama to be an effective Jewish partner for peace. There were about 25 of us who listened carefully for a reason to believe that the dark night might end.

When the talk was over, I asked a young Israeli friend who had just flown in from Tel Aviv, what he thought of the evening. Haggai El-Ad is the executive director of a human rights organization in Israel. He answered, “It’s good to hear people talking about it. They’re interested, even hopeful. In Israel, they want to escape the situation they can’t find a way out of.” It is a silence of despair, the sound of the inaudible sigh of the enslaved one. When memory keeps us frightened and angry, it holds creativity and courage hostage. We who have never witnessed what Israelis live with cannot judge them.

Those of us who have the luxury of having lived at a distance from the corrosive long burning war, have an important part to play. Our lives as American Jews would be dramatically different without Israel. Israel needs our focus, our energy, and our desire for one goal: coexistence once again. Peace would be the best, but this would be enough. We are called to keep faith with our sisters and brothers in Israel. That includes demanding an independent investigation of the army’s behavior in Gaza. Haggai’s group is working for it because if there is nothing to hide, then let the world know. If there are abuses, they must be corrected so that Israeli society will continue to support its government and army. He does not see Israel as fragile or vulnerable; it can and must take the necessary steps to remain a true democracy in the Middle East. Am Yisrael Chai, May the People of Israel Live.

I’ll say more about Israel, the necessity for keeping the talking and the relationship going, and how to live in truth and love with the country at High Holidays. In the meantime, consider where you are getting your information about Israel. Are you getting any? As best you can, see all who support Israel as friends in differing degrees.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Dear Friends,

Since we last met, we have blessed the sun and we have celebrated the gift of moving again and again from physical and metaphysical enslavements into freedom. Thanks to all who attended these events with joy and full hearts. May the crunch of matzah guide us until Elijah makes good on his promise.

And we are not yet finished with our festivals. Tonight, Wednesday, 16 April, marks the last day of Pesah, and we will gather as we usually do for the Hour of Power Minyan at 5:30 to light the festival candles, thank God as free people, and remember our beloved dead for the Yizkor (memorial) service. Ava Salman has graciously given us a box of yarzheit candles that you may take home. We look forward to seeing you and ask that you make every effort to attend to be sure we have a minyan to say Kaddish.

I read in the obituaries today of the death of Judith Krug, a librarian who led the campaign by libraries against efforts to ban books such as “Huckleberry Finn”, “Catcher in the Rye”, and sex manuals. In a time when we wince at the astounding crime of Bernie Madoff and the disheartening scandals of Israeli government heads, it is important and encouraging to know about the heroism of a Jewish woman who fought censorship for forty years. May her memory inspire us to stand up for injustice and not to succumb to indifference and fear.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

April 6, 2009
Dear Friends,

Just when you thought you knew all the seasonal celebrations Jews have, one more appears! Since it only occurs every 28 years, who knew that we had a blessing for the sun? Birkat HaChamah celebrates When was the last time you blessed the sun? Who wakes up in the morning and is delighted to see that which warms and illuminates us? This Wednesday morning we mark the sun’s position it occupied at the beginning of the fourth day of Creation, and at that moment we can experience the radical amazement of the birth of the sun.

Lest you think that this is kind of pagan, in the first chapter of Genesis we read, “And the Creative One made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night and the stars. And God placed them in the sky of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from darkness; and God saw that it was good. And it was evening and it was morning, a fourth day.”

Since none of us can be sure that we’ll be around for the next celebration, we will mark the moment with a brief service at 8:30 a.m. at St. Bede’s. Bring a shofar if you have one and whatever tasty hametz you want to get rid of for our feast. We’ll supply our HaMakom coffee. What makes the holiday even more remarkable is that this event has occurred on the day of erev Passover only three times: right before being freed from Egypt, prior to the miracle of the first Purim, and this year! Seder means order, the order that takes us from darkness. How perfect is that!

If you’re still not convinced that this is important, the New Mexico legislature thinks otherwise. Our state will be second only to Oregon in leading the way in looking at the sun as our liberation from fossil fuels. When the last Birkat HaChamah occurred in 1981, only a few visionaries saw the day as a signal not only to bless the sun but to awaken awareness of our environment. I invite you to take a brief break from Passover preparations and offer a blessing that will put you in new relationship with the sun. It may encourage you to buy a Prius or better yet, a diesel car that runs on used cooking oil.

And then, we’ll be glad to see each other for the birthday of the Jewish people that night at 5:30 at Café Café. A Ziesen Pesah! Come and taste the secret of the Haggadah, the love potion number ten, charoses. You will taste the secret of life, which is love.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

March 29, 2009
Dear Ones,

If we were in Israel now, we would witness the ordinary miracle of the greening of the hills of Jerusalem in this season that inspires the lushness of the Song of Songs. Despite everything, spring returns life to the earth once again. Halleluyah.

Six years ago I received a letter a letter from a young mother and doctor near Jerusalem. Her exhaustion, courage, and faith are audible. It was in response to four things I suggested we might think about in this season. You can read it by selecting this link.

This year I’m thinking about these four:

1. Pesach celebrates what we most yearn for and what frightens us the most: love. I’m not only talking about between human beings but even more, the idea that the world is suffused with love, was created out of love, and that it is the only lesson we are here to learn: how to love. We read Song of Songs during Passover, an erotic poem that doesn’t mention God’s name yet is regarded by no less than Rabbi Akiva as the reason the world was created. A suggestion: read the poem with a beloved friend.

2. Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav, an ecstatic depressive holy man in the 19th Century, suggested that each of us take an hour a day alone in the woods to meditate and to repeat over and over, “Help me.” During Pesach, this is especially good, to absorb spring from the forest and to feel the spring return in oneself. A suggestion: change the meditation to “Grow, grow, grow.” If the forest could speak, this is what we would hear. Bring to mind whatever it is that you want to grow in yourself.

3. We count the omer for forty days beginning on the second day of Passover. So far so good. It’s the explanation of how counting a sheaf of barley each night in 2009 is going to help you that can be a problem. It’s a primordial practice, like most rituals, and the counting is powerful. I stand by my bed right before diving in and I do the count. There are books and guides online to focus each night. This year I’m sticking with discernment, i.e. looking for God in all my experiences. A suggestion: give it a try and ask if you want help.

4. Israel. Our archetypal home, our modern homeland, our place of pride and heartbreak. Remember the hills that are green again and you see that God still keeps faith. So do millions of Israeli Jews who want peace, who don’t hate, and who remember that it is not ours to finish nor ours from which to walk away. It may be painful to stay informed, yet one of the good thing is that Israeli media is quite open in it reportage and criticism. Stay in relationship with Israel, whether it be through Creativity for Peace or AIPAC. A suggestion: join us next March for a trip to Israel. You won’t be sorry.

What does Pesach at HaMakom look like this year? The Matzah Brittle is ready! Erica and team, Kol HaKavod! This is the perfect Passover gift for yourself and others. We have a beautiful FIRST NIGHT Seder planned for 8 April at Café Café, thanks to Pat Carlton and her committee. I look forward to leading the Seder with Cantor Cindy, and celebrating with you.

Shavua Tov!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

February 19, 2009
Dear Friends,

I’m filling in for the Weekly Reader editor, Cindy Freedman, this week, because our multi-talented cantor has been ill with a terrible flu that has left her speechless. Thank the Healer that her vocal chords are unaffected and we hope to see her in our midst before too long.

A confession. Until a few weeks ago, I thought that only in rural communities did people reach out and help one another in times of need; they survived because of interdependence. I have been moved not only physically from one house to another, but metaphysically as well, by the outpouring of love and help we have received. Shabbos dinners, food dropped by, shleppers, organizers, and packers convinced me again and again that I’m not just making this all up. Spirit abounds and all our angels prove it! This was a monumental move in a year of mourning, and while we wouldn’t have chosen it, we are grateful to be where we are today.
We are in a lovely house and will be hanging the mezuzah at five on Sunday, 22 February. You’re all invited to pray, sing, eat and drink a little, and learn about the potential of the the mezuzah to make our lives sweeter. 988-1860

We are going to have a Havdalah service on Saturday, 28 February, at 7 p.m, at Una Vida, Tesuque, our beloved home for sixteen years. We want to give the new owners our blessings for a good life and to assure them that only good remains energetically in the house. The Harts are a family of five, and they plan to create a holistic health center on the property. Their spiritual teacher, Nura, will also take part in the ritual. Those of us who were with HaMakom from the beginning will remember our first event was a Hanukkah party at our house led by Leslie Davis. Yafa Chase-Parry taught our first B’nai Mitzvah class around the dining room table, and we held a week day minyan there for Bill and Margery Lazar’s mother. Because so many of us in the community have such memories, we’re inviting the community to the Havdalah to say goodbye. The house is still beautiful yet empty. If you want something to sit on, please bring it. The same goes for food and drink. We’d love to host a festive meal, but alas, still too much to do in settling in.

One more date. Tonight at six p.m., I’m going to talk about my favorite day and one of my heroes, Shabbat through the eyes of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Six p.m. In the library at St. Bede’s, 1601 St. Francis Dr.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

February 10, 2009
Dear Friends,

Tomorrow morning at ten a.m. I am offering an invocation in the Senate at the Roundhouse. It’s an important session that is making decisions regarding the future of the College of Santa Fe and hate crimes. Inspired by Rev. Gene Robinson’s Inaugural blessing, I have adapted Howard Thurmann’s poem:



Good morning! I’m grateful for the opportunity to invoke divine presence among our esteemed Senate. It is easy to forget the Source of our insight, strength, and courage. When Moses speaks to God, pleading for God to give him more of God. A name, a face, something that would give the people faith to continue on their journey.

God tells Moses to enter a crevice in a rock, and it will be there that Moses will experience God’s presence, in that opening between solid rock. It is within ourselves that we need to make the space to hear the cries of others, the points of view that differ from ours, and the Voice that reminds us that we are responsible for one another.

This morning the prayer that I offer is inspired by a poem by Howard Thurmann:

Open Unto Us-light for our darkness

Open Unto Us-courage for our fear

Open Unto Us-hope for our despair

Open Unto Us-peace for our turmoil

Open Unto Us-joy for my sorrow

Open Unto Us-strength for our weakness

Open Unto Us-wisdom for our confusion

Open Unto Us-forgiveness our our sins

Open Unto Us-tenderness for our toughness

Open Unto Us-love for our hates

Open Unto Us-compassion for our indifference

Open Unto Us-kindness for our coldness

Open Unto Us-Your Self for our selfishness

Holy One of justice and mercy, open unto us!

We ask Your help in making these chambers the crevice in which You appear to guide our Senators to their highest collective intelligence. And let us say, Amen.


Esther Rosen, beloved mother of Rachel, died peacefully on Tu B’Shevat, Sunday, 8 February. At 95, Esther died in the winter of her life. On the day when we understand that the sap within the dormant trees begins to awaken, Esther left her life force with her children, Rachel and Hal, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. From her they learned the holiness of equal rights for all human beings, the importance of fighting for the weak, and the blessing of family. May the mourners be comforted by their friends and her memory.

Peace and love
Rabbi Malka Drucker

January 29, 2009
Dear Ones,

I’ve just gotten back from New York after seeing Gay’s wonderful film, “Camp Girls.” It premiered at the New York Jewish Film Festival and it was a sellout! Now we have the opportunity to see it in Santa Fe at Tipton Hall on Monday, 9 February at 6:00 pm sponsored by the Santa Fe Art Institute. Hope to see you there. Call 424-5050 for ticket information.

Tonight, 29 January, at 5:30-7, in the library at St. Bede’s, student rabbi Yafa Chase, begins teaching Entering the Heart of Judaism with a class in introductory Hebrew. If you’ve ever thought about becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a Jew, or a deeper being, this is your class.

For further learning opportunities, please attend our Wednesday Hour of Power minyan at 5:30, where we take a mid-week moment to exhale, look around, and say, Amen! We also take a little time to study together and join eternity with the task of remaining steadfast, discerning, loving, faithful, hopeful, and strong “in these times”, as we hear all around us. You don’t have to wait until next Wednesday to make connection. We have Shabbat! Come Saturday morning at 9:45 to receive the love letter aka Torah. It is radically amazing how the story of exile that we read in these weeks has great relevance to me right now. Whether you are moving (as we are), all of us have been in exile since 9/11. If that didn’t dislocate your vision of America, perhaps the economic collapse and the war in Israel has gotten your attention. It’s a good time to connect together with the One, and your presence is good medicine for all who see you.

Finally, on Sunday, 8 February at St. Bede’s at 6:00 pm, we will celebrate Tu B’Shevat, which means 15 Shevat, and it is the Birthday of the Trees. On the full moon, we eat fifteen different kinds of fruits and nuts. This holiday marks the awakening of the sap in the trees. Its rising marks the beginning of the renewal of life in the natural world. 400 years ago in the mystical city of Safed, Israel, they created a seder with a haggadah that takes us through the four seasons with beauty and mystery. Surrounded by candlelight we begin with white wine to mark the white, barren season of winter and the fourth cup is rich red, representing the fall harvest. As we eat fifteen different species of fruits and nuts, we stop to be radically amazed by a world that continually feeds us with a great variety of foods and provides a variety of climates to sustain life.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

January 20, 2009
Dear Friends,

Inauguration Day! Praise God! It was a holy moment watching the Inauguration, and it wasn’t only seeing our beautiful new President, may God shed grace on him. It was seeing the unbelievable number of people who stood in the freezing cold, full of hope and a sense of history. May their passion for a better world burn forever.

Watching YoYo Ma and Itzhak Perlman play reminded me of a poem that Rabbi Harold Schulweis wrote that speaks of this sacred moment. Just as Perlman found another way to play on only three strings, so we as a country will learn new ways of power. The Jewish people, almost never the externally mighty, know another path of power. May each of us in America, from so many faith traditions, bring forth our unique lights to make our country warm and radiant for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

Playing with Three Strings
By Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis

Itzhak Perlman
Walks the stage with braces on both legs.
Or two crutches.

Takes his seat, unhinges the clasps on his legs,
Tucking one leg back, extending the other,
Laying down his crutches, placing the violin under his chin.

On one occasion one of his violin strings broke.
The audience grew silent,
The violinist did not leave the stage.
Signaling the maestro,
The violinist played with intensity on only three strings.

With three strings he modulated, changed, and
Recomposed the piece in his head
Retuned the strings to get different sounds,
Turned them upward and downward.

The audience screamed delight,
Applauded their appreciation.
Asked how he had accomplished this feat,
The violinist answered
It is my task to make music with what remains.

A legacy mightier than a concert.
Make music with what remains.
Complete the song left for us to sing,
Play it out with heart, soul, and might
With the remaining strength within us.

January 13, 2009
Dear Friends,

Since Cindy and Yafa are still at the rabbinical and cantorial retreat, this Wednesday I’ll be leading the Hour of Power minyan at 5:30 at St. Bede’s. Although I borrowed the name for our Minhah (afternoon) and Ma’ariv (evening) service, we have a connection in Judaism. One of the first newspapers in British Mandate Palestine was called HaSha’ah, The Hour. It implies that this moment is holy and that not a moment can be wasted. At the same time we call the place that we learn the yeshivah, which has its root in the word, to sit. This hour is the moment to stop and sit. Right now we will be still enough to feel God’s presence within us.

In the middle of our busy week, we have opportunity as a community to be quiet together to listen to the Voice that guides us. It tells us to hurry up, don’t lose another second of your life. As my wise friend Sylvia Boorstein tells us, just don’t do something, sit there.

This week we begin Exodus in our Torah reading cycle. It is also known as Shemot, or Names. I started using my Hebrew or Jewish name when I was 28 because it felt like the name of my deepest knowing and longing. On Wednesday we’ll explore all the names we have been called, are called, and we wish to be called.

Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker