Category Archives: The Avodah Service

The Avodah Service

Rabbi Ben Goldstein
September 30, 2013

There is a Chasidic story told about the great Baal Shem Tov.[1] When misfortune was threatening the Jews, it was his custom to go into a certain part of the forest to call for help for the Jewish people. He would light a fire, and say a special prayer. Time after time his attempts were More »


Azazel, Piyyutim, and Avodah

September 29, 2013

MY BODY. Is made of lead and nails of Azazel, receiver of the second goat. Sin builds us, while enlightened vision frees our souls – but the apple still tastes sweet. As a poet, finding hidden connections between my heart and my heritage always seems to bring light – a subtle hope that who I More »


The Work of Giving Up

Cheryl Goldstein
September 28, 2013

While I was studying rabbinic literature, I attended daily minyan with the rabbinical students, but I frequently felt frustrated. I realized I have a very ambivalent relationship with prayer. When I described my concerns to a senior rabbi he responded my telling me that there are three paths of devotion: prayer, study, and service in More »


Bending to G-d’s Will

Gershon Burstyn
September 27, 2013

We were in the library of a synagogue in Washington, D.C. The man at the bimah had short red-blonde hair and wore wire-rim glasses. He was on the small side and his voice was high. I remember marking the paradox: that someone singing something so weighty could do something in such a high pitch.   More »


She-asani Kirtzono

Rachel Petroff Kessler
September 26, 2013

On Yom Kippur, I often find myself vacillating between two extremes. I find myself apologizing to God – I’m sorry I have not lived up to the potential You have placed within me. Then I stop short, wondering if this is the height of hubris – who am I to assume that God has created More »


A Chazzan

Simcha Halpert-Hanson
September 25, 2013

Once, I sang for you my voice a perfect pool of pitch of which the nation that filed past weeping Rachel shouldered, in open oil lamps and wails from the leaves of Eicha– later we secured them inside our synagogues so they hovered above our davening collecting in the dome a reservoir echoed rising and More »


Gone Goat

Rabbi Jessica Lott
September 24, 2013

It must have been startling to watch. And cathartic. That little goat up there. I’d put my sins on him. Oh yeah, I totally would. We all would.  And then they would send him away. Trot off, little sins! Go out into the wilderness and never come back! And then there’s the other goat. That More »


Avodah: At Your Service?

Alexis Pinsky
September 23, 2013

  Ascending the steps to the roof, I turned to my Israeli host and asked; “Are the services up there?” The roof that I was heading for was high on a hillside in Tzfat, and I was preparing to invite in Shabbat just as the medieval Kabbalists had done centuries before me. As we reached More »


What’s Your Avodah? (Song)

Rabbi Josh Snyder
September 22, 2013

As I read through this month’s Shma, I was entranced by a thought expressed in Sharon Cohen Anisfeld’s piece “Rabbinic Calling: Our Work”.  Sharon expresses initial reluctance to own the sense of ‘calling’ often claimed by Christian clergy, but finds rich grounding in the concept of shlichut (mission), and ultimately that work as rabbis can More »