Monthly Archives: August 2012

Nature’s Calm, Nature’s Wrath

As I strolled around the lake this morning and inhaled its calm, I felt very fortunate. My thoughts turned to those who have already felt the wrath of Hurricane Isaac, and to those who are in the midst of the effects of Hurricane Isaac. My thoughts go out to all of you.

Below is a poem posted on the website Katrina’s Jewish Voices. When you get to the end, you will see the author’s name and age…

HURRICANE KATRINA

Winds are howling; trees are blowing.
Children are scared; lights aren’t glowing.
The next day, the levees broke.
I was sad; some were mad.
Gutters were hanging; swings were clanging.
We had to move and get into a new groove.
We changed to a new school and that was cool.
I couldn’t find my rubber duck; it was in the gross muck.
We had to start new and had a lot of shopping to do.
There’s a lot of traffic;
The pictures on the TV were very graphic.
I have new friends and new shoes.
They helped take away my blues!
Pets are dying; we’re all crying.
Old friends scatter; new friends really do matter!
They make my day and help me find my way!
I have no home or the Superdome.
I got a new jacket and a tennis racquet.
I am a Hurricane Katrina victim/survivor.
I know things will be better.
Katrina is gone, but I’m here living a life.
Rachel Bressler
Age: 11

Visit Nature Notes Wednesday for more wonderful photographs of nature.

Visit Our World Tuesday for more photographhs from around the world.


August 29, 2012 – 11 Elul, 5772

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.

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Magnolia Tree and a Book Review – To Heal a Fractured World

The photograph above was taken while walking on a street lined with magnolia trees.

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If you are looking for a book that intensely delves into the ethical aspects of responsibility, then, To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility, by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is definitely the book for you. Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks is a well-respected within the Jewish community, the religious community as a whole, and the philosophy and theological world. His insightful books leave one to ponder many issues.

To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility is an intense book, that guides the reader on a journey towards the fundamental and spiritual aspects of responsibility. It teaches us how we can live in today’s world within the ethical extracts and properties he sets out for us. He guides us along the road towards fulfilling and understanding our part in the scheme of obligation, as individuals, not just as a person who is part of a community. He teaches us about the burdens of responsibility, yet strongly implies that it is our duty to be individuals of substance, moral and ethical courage and demeanor.

Rabbi Sir Sacks, with compelling prose, educates us to be aware that our attitude towards others, dynamics and interactions aren’t complete without the borders and boundaries of responsibility reflected both internally and externally. The Jewish community has a pact or covenant with G-d, and part of the structure of that pact includes “repairing the world”, or making life a bit easier for other individuals. From social action and justice, to the goodness we can extend to humanity, we have an obligation to bring positiveness and goodness into the world. With this train of thought, not only do we help others, but we help ourselves. We feel good about ourselves. We bring dimension and meaning into our own lives.

To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility, by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, is a compelling book, and one that belongs in every household, Jewish or otherwise. Through stories, Torah, Talmud, and Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks’ teachings, we can overcome much of the negative dynamics in our lives through the positive actions we take. The message is strong, filled with clarity, and one that is illuminating. Without an ethical foundation, humanity’s cry goes unheard. We hold an ethical and moral responsibility for each other, for all of mankind. We are one minute force in the global whole. Yet our minute presence can bring light into a life.

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August 27, 2012 – 9 Elul, 5772

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.

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Skies, Volunteering, Shabbat, August 24, 2012

Want to volunteer for a good cause? The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has four upcoming special events on September 9, 2012, in which you could participate and volunteer your time.

Their SOVA Community Food and Resource Program can also use volunteers on a continual basis.

Operation Gratitude, sends care packages to the U.S. Military, and can use volunteers. Visit them, here, to see their schedule.

Habitat for Humanity has ongoing volunteer programs nationwide. Check their website for a program near you.

The photographs above were taken in my neighborhood and while out and about on various days, while walking.

May your skies be filed with illumination and loveliness. Shabbat Shalom!

August 24, 2012 – 6 Elul, 5772

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Jewaicious Book Review – The Way Into Judaism and the Environment

Nature can also be a state of mind, illuminating from your mental image, and your spiritual being. Torah and nature coexist quite comfortably, in my environment.

I found the book The Way Into Judaism and the Environment, by Jeremy Benstein, PhD, to be quite helpful in matters regarding encompassing Jewish practice and Jewish life. It’s an excellent book, informative on the issues relating to Jews and environmentalism, and their understanding of nature. The six chapters are formatted well, and here are the chapter titles:

1. Emet Ve’emunot: Environmentalism, Religion, and the Environmental Crisis in Context
2. Bereishit Bara’: Creator, Creating, Creation, Cretures and Us
3. Lishmor La’asot U’lekayem: Traditional Sources and Resources
4. Olam Umelo’o: Contemporary Topics and Issues
5. Chagim Uzmanin: Cycles in Time, Sacraments in Life
6. Ha’am Ve’Ha’aretz: The Land of Israel and a Jewish Sense of Place

As you can see from the chapter titles, the book doesn’t only deal with nature and the environment. Within the pages lie quotations, biblical references, time and place, Earth’s beginnings, etc., all incorporated within Judaism’s traditions. The Way Into Judaism and the Environment is an excellent resource expanding on the current, pertinent environmental and global issues. Benstein believes that “a sustainable society is one that integrates social, environmental, and economic concerns of health and justice, and can both sustain itself over time, living up to responsibilities to future generations…”

Benstein infuses Torah within the realms of today and tomorrow, and the human responsibility for the preservation of our planet for future use. His articulation is masterful, is message is strong in its expansion and enhancement of nature and Judaism. After finishing the book, the reader is left with much to ponder. Jeremy Benstein, PhD, shows us how we can root ourselves in Judaism and Torah, and how we can combine nature and our spirituality in our daily lives. It is a must read for anyone concerned with today’s “green planet” and environmental issues, and issues of society and humanity within the framework of the planet Earth.

For more Jewish-related environmental information, visit The Big Green Jewish Website.

August 23, 2012 – 5 Elul, 5772

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.

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Canyons, Natural and Other Forms

“…wild flowers should be enjoyed unplucked where they grow.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.”
-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“The wind whips through the canyons of the American Southwest, and there is no one to hear it but us – a reminder of the 40,000 generations of thinking men and women who preceded us, about whom we know almost nothing, upon whom our civilization is based.”
-Dr. Carl Sagan

Visit Nature Notes Wednesday for more nature photography.

“Try opening up the internal canyons within you, the canyons of your mind, your soul, and your physical being, in order to see and appreciate the inner beauty of others, and appreciate the external beauty and awe of nature.” – Jewaicious/L.M.

I found an excellent article that I want to share: Ecology and Spirituality in Jewish Tradition, by David Sears

August 21, 2012 – 3 Elul, 5772

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.

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Captures of Nature, High Holy Days Reading

The photograph above always brings me back to the Smokey Mountains, and to the beauty and awe of nature. To call the scenic setting breathtaking, is an understatement. Like Yosemite National Park, the sea, or the Grand Canyon, the Smokey Mountains leave me gasping at the wonder of it all.

Recommended Reading in preparation for the High Holy Days:

Waiting for Rain, by Bryna Jocheved Levy


The Koren Sacks Siddur: A Hebrew/English Prayerbook
, by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days, by Dr. Kerry M. Olitzky

A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book, by Dr. Aliza Laviwe

Days of Awe: A Treasury of Jewish Wisdom for Reflection, Repentance, and Renewal on the High Holy Days, by Shmuel Yosef Agnon

The How & Why of Jewish Prayer, by Israel Rubin

The Gift of Rest, by Senator Joe Lieberman

The Jewish Body, by Melvin Konner


Man’s Search for Meaning
, by Viktor Frankl

Seyder Tkhines, by Devra Kay

Hours of Devotion
, by Dinah Berland

Entering the High Holy Days
, by Rabbi Reuven Hammer

August 21, 2012 – 3 Elul, 5772

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.

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