Meaning, Understanding, Relevance, & Joy
in the Jewish Holiday Cycle
On this page we have arranged and added teachings, meditations, suggestions for home rituals, and other resources for the Jewish holidays. Enjoy, and happy holidays! We welcome your
What was your favorite idea? How did you use these resources? What holiday subjects would you like us to cover in the future?
THE HIGH HOLIDAYS
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
Quotations & Commentary on Awakening
Quotations and Commentary on Repentance and Forgiveness
Teshuvah, Tefilah, Tzedakah: Repentance, Prayer, and Righteous Giving
Source Texts from our audio CD Transformation Now: Texts on Teshuvah
Source Texts from our audio CD Reb Zalman Prays: A Creative Translation of Adirey Ayumah
Meditations and Writing Exercises on Repentance
The Meaning of "Elul" - an essay on rabbinic wordplay.
Chai Elul Meditations - a twelve day process to review the past twelve months.
Elul Meditation Themes for each of the month's four shabbatot:
Parshat Shoftim: Justice
Parshat Ki Teytzey: Peace
Parshat Ki Tavo: Creation
Parshat Netzavim: Gaining Perspective
Blessings Over Curses - Bible commentary
Connecting The Dots - Bible commentary
Teshuvah and Weight Loss - Bible commentary
Are We There Yet?
Unetaneh Tokef - Literal and allegorical translations
High Holiday Questions
- Contemplative exercises to prepare for the holy days
edited from recordings of High Holiday services, give you the opportunity to listen directly to Rabbi Debra and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi as they discuss, explain, and pray about ideas that are central to the Days of Awe. You can take these great teachers with you; listen, learn, and meditate with them at home, in your car, or wherever you are traveling.
Here is an edited compendium of teachings by Rabbi Debra on the purpose and meaning of shofar:
Reb Nachman's "Rules" for Joy - Meditations and Writing Exercises
Quotations and Commentary on Joy
Drinking It All In - essay
Hasidic Tales of Joy - stories
While Thanksgiving is not specifically a Jewish holiday, it exemplifies Jewish values and has its roots in the Bible.
Questions for Meditation on Gratitude
Gratitude and Thanksgiving Practices
Quotations and Commentary on Gratitude
Giving Thanks - essay
Blessing Management - Bible commentary
But Who's Complaining? - Bible commentary
What Could Make A Person Feel Grateful Right Now? - responsive reading
Poems of Gratitude - an anthology collected by Rabbi Debra
The Gratitude Visit - The Most Potent Gratitude Practice Measured So Far
Grateful for Being Spared - New and traditional prayers & commentary
Modim Anachnu Lach - "We Are Grateful To You," a translation and commentaries on this blessing of gratitude found in the Amidah prayer
Ma'ariv Aravim - acknowledging God as day changes to night
Guided Exercise: Expressing Gratitude Around Your Thanksgiving Table – without feeling awkward, “lame,” trite, or anxious
American Thanksgiving Quotations - to spark conversations
The Thanksgiving Quiz
- Thanksgiving Quiz - Answers & Discussion Questions
Free Audio - Debra on WABC radio's "Religion on the Line," discussing gratitude at Thanksgiving.
Hanukah Essay and Meditations - inspiration about the miracles for each of the eight nights
The Best of Hanukah: Recommended Books, CDs, and DVDs for Children and Adults
For inspiration at the time of candle lighting – or anytime, Rabbi Debra has collected quotations on Hanukah themes to spark reflection and discussion.
The December Dilemma,
This advice was written for a class of prospective converts to Judaism, many of whom were already partners in a Jewish household. Not every Jew experiences a “December Dilemma,” but many do. We hope that this essay will prove useful for those who choose Judaism, those who were born into it, and those who serve and teach Jews.
Eight Ideas for Eight Nights,
Hanukah candle lighting is celebratory, but also, often, “squeezed in” between homework and bedtime, work duties and the second shift at home. The following are some suggestions that can add structure and meaning to your Hanukah celebration.
Light the Wick,
an essay written for The Los Angeles Jewish Journal on the meaning of "light" and sacred fire.
What can we do besides light candles and open gifts?
- Ideas you can do at the time of Hanukah candle lighting. No preparation is needed.
Is the Gift-Giving Season Spoiling Your Kids - or Your Joy?
- commentary and ideas.
Hanukah Candle Lighting Meditations
- A rededication to protecting the earth on the holiday of rededication.
Eight Things to Give This Year - That Cost Nothing
Martin Luther King Day & Freedom Shabbat
A special page dedicated to the memories and legacies of two great friends and colleagues: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel. The page includes video from a special "Freedom Shabbat" service and a collection by Rabbi Debra of inspiring readings, teachings and prayers
Tu Bishvat and Kabbalah
Quotations and a Story
Tu Bishvat Meditations
Lessons of the Season - Bible commentary
Are “Two Kinds” Too Kind, Too Cruel, or Just Too Many?
- Our special dedicated page full of insights and practical tips for expanding the telling in engaging and family-friendly ways.
Video of Debra's 2012 Yom Hashoah service
Click here for our Shavuot page.
Check this page through the year for additional content on upcoming holidays. Thank you.