Practical and Embodied Judaism – Parasha Noach

“And the floodgates of the sky broke open.” -Genesis 7:11

“People who pray for miracles usually don’t get miracles, any more than children who pray for bicycles, good grades, or good boyfriends get them as a result of praying. But people who pray for courage, for strength to bear the unbearable, for the grace to remember what they have left instead of they have lost, very often find their prayer answered.”
– Rabbi Harold Kushner in “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”

Welcome to the new season of the ‘Raising Holy Sparks’ podcast. This year, we will be focusing on Jewish concepts and will be experimenting with ways to take them out of the theoretical and turn them into the practical.
Continue reading “Practical and Embodied Judaism – Parasha Noach”

The Exonerated Five of the Central Park Jogger Case and the Book of Job

The Exonerated Five of the Central Park Jogger Case and the Book of Job

The connection between Netflix’s “When They See Us” and the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Job.

On a mid-August day of this year there will be Jews all around the world avoiding activities that bring them pleasure. It will be the commemoration of Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av), a holiday that acts as the catch-all day for the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the past three millennia — it is the date of the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, and the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto to name a few.

In order to create a solemn atmosphere, Jewish ritual mandates that ordinary, even necessary activities, be avoided. That means no eating food, drinking water, and observers of this day must even refrain from studying Torah. The only text that is permitted to be studied on this mournful day is the Book of Job. Continue reading “The Exonerated Five of the Central Park Jogger Case and the Book of Job”

Episode 27: If I Show You The Real Me Will You Still Love Me? w/Elad Nehorai

Episode 27: If I Show You The Real Me Will You Still Love Me? w/Elad Nehorai

In this episode, I speak with Elad about a project that he helped launch called: Neshamas.

What is Neshamas?

“Neshamas was created because of a need we, the creators of Hevria, saw in the Jewish community: to share what’s deep, down in our souls without the added pressure of putting our names behind the work.

For reasons that vary, from communal pressure to internal shame, publicly published pieces about subjects like abuse, conversion, identity, and more can be incredibly intimidating, even dangerous.  But the value of sharing our souls, our true selves, is incalculable, and essential to the process of inner growth and acceptance.

And so we created Neshamas, a place where any Jewish person can share their souls absolutely anonymously.  In writing, art, or any other form.  There will be no judgments here. No determinations of quality of work, or whether you “deserve” to share what your soul is dying to express.  You are automatically accepted just by being here, whether you’re a reader, a sharer, or both.

Everyone here is judged as a neshama, in other words.  A soul, not a body.  Valuable simply for existing.  Names do not matter here.  Only souls.” Continue reading “Episode 27: If I Show You The Real Me Will You Still Love Me? w/Elad Nehorai”

Episode 6: Discussing Depression, Growth and Surviving Suicide Loss w/Dr. Natalya Bogopolskaya

Episode 6: Discussing Depression, Growth and Surviving Suicide Loss w/Dr. Natalya Bogopolskaya

““A lot of times people ask: how do I return to my ‘normal’ life after someone close to me has died?
-You will have to find a new normal.”

— Dr. Bogopolskaya on Professor David Schonfeld

Dr. Natalya Bogopolskaya has a Doctor of Psychology degree in school psychology from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She obtained her Master of Education in school psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and Bachelor of Arts in psychology, French, and Russian from Claremont McKenna College.

She is also a nationally certified school psychologist, having interned and worked in schools districts in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and now Los Angeles, where she currently resides. Her dissertation was on the relationship between resilience traits, post-traumatic stress disorder, and post-traumatic growth in suicide loss survivors. Continue reading “Episode 6: Discussing Depression, Growth and Surviving Suicide Loss w/Dr. Natalya Bogopolskaya”

Episode 4: The Struggles Of Being Religious

Episode 4: The Struggles Of Being Religious

“In this episode I talk about the moments in my life where I doubted everything. I kept asking myself why bother continue going forward with.. prayer if it doesn’t help me feel, with Torah if it isn’t historically true, etc. Have you had moments like this?”

When challenges arise in your life, whether they pop up in your dating life, or in your friendships, do you ever have the feeling of just quitting and running away. I know I’ve had those feelings. That feeling of wanting to break away and to just start from scratch has popped up more than a few times in my religious life. Continue reading “Episode 4: The Struggles Of Being Religious”