Archives for October 2011

Simchat Torah

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Notes from the Science and Nonduality Conference

I just landed Monday night coming back to Seattle after having spent a few days in San Raphael, CA, attending and presenting at a conference. The conference, which gathered teachers from all over the world for the third consecutive year, is called Science and Nonduality (SaND for short.) You can check out their website here ( .)

That such a conference exists is in and of itself an immense blessing, but to be able to be a part of it is an incredible gift. SaND is a place where spiritual teachers at the edge of the evolution of consciousness, as well as poets, dancers and painters, come to speak of an awareness beyond words. Beside them are renowned quantum physicists, psychologists, mathematicians, brain scientists, university professors and authors who, too, stand at the edge of the evolution of consciousness. These scientists’ presentations are the ones which impact me most because their logic and rational break down my resistance to their arguments. Through their scientific method they bring my rational ego along, and prove the convergence of conclusions between science and nondual spirituality.

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Sukkot 2011

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In The Greater Community: October 24 – October 30 2011

It is kind of a quiet week in regards to events in the greater community.  But there are lots of upcoming events to get on your calendar.  Get out, meet new people, and support our greater Jewish and Interfaith communities.

This Week:

Music of Remembrance
World Premiere Screening
The Boys of Terezín, a documentary.
SUNDAY October 30, 2011, 2:30 p.m.
Plestcheef Auditorium, Seattle Art Museum
Admission is $18 in advance or $25 at the door (buy tickets online), but Music of Rememberance is inviting the first 100 high school students (register with your name and email address here) to see the film for free.

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Torah Reflections: October 16 – 22, 2011

Parashah (portion) Bereshit – The Kabbalah of Creation
Genesis 1:1 – 6:8

I love the esoteric interpretation by Nachmanides–Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, born in Spain (1194-1270)–on the first verse of Genesis:

In a beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [Gen. 1:1]

Nachmanides helps us see that the usual English translation misses the deeper meaning. If we were to strictly follow the way the verse is written in Hebrew we would write this sentence as follows:

In a beginning created God the heaven and the earth. [Gen. 1:1]

In so doing we are confronted with the possibility that the word “God” might not, after all, be the subject of the sentence, but instead, may be its object. And if this is the case, what then, is the subject that “created”? And more specifically, what is it that “created” God?

Nachmanides answers as only a mystic can. He points to the fact that in Torah the word “beginning” has a little crown drawn atop one of its letters. The word “crown” is Keter in Hebrew, and Keter represents the highest level of consciousness on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. Keter is described as pure consciousness, Mind beyond Mind, ultimate Divine Formlessness within which the original inspiration for creation stirs; the first ripple in the stillness of the Infinite One. For Nachmanides, Keter is the missing subject: “… Keter created God…”

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A Change of Plans… And You Are Invited

Dear Friends,
As the Holyday season moves into Sukkot, I have been reflecting on the powerful experiences of this year’s High Holy Days and, aware of how the busy-ness of our lives can take over, would like to offer something new this year. I would like to invite you to join me in entering into deepening conversations around the themes of the Holy Days that were shared and/or that are present and still unfolding for you right now.

We have many topics to choose from:

  • Forgiveness
  • Making amends
  • Letting go of our need for our past/present to be different than it was/is
  • Letting go of our need for others to be different than they are
  • Becoming more aware of the ways we show up in our world
  • Learning when and how to speak up in courageous ways and deeply listening as a path to love.

I am also leaving the door wide open for you to bring up as a topic whatever is awakening within your heart.

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Interfaith Leaders #OccupySeattle

WHAT: Interfaith Prayer Circle to Support the Spirit of #Occupy Seattle. Interfaith Leaders will gather to Support #OccupySeattle and #OccupyWallStreet. Our faith and our connection to the human spirit calls us to notice and speak up. America is not living up to its ideals. This is an INTERFAITH event; prayers and inspiration of every religion and tradition are welcome.

WHEN: Friday, October 14, 2011, 3PM

WHERE: Westlake Park

BACKGROUND: We are religious, spiritual and people of good-will with a collective commitment to work together and give voice to the disempowered. As Faith Leaders, we are compelled to walk in the path of Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, Buddha, Rama, Krishna, and many others known and unknown to seek justice for all humanity and the planet. As people of spirit we believe in the power of people uniting from different backgrounds for a common goal.

Confirmed Participants (Denominations for identification purposes only)
Rev. Rich Lang, Trinity United Methodist Church
Rabbi Oliver BenHaim, Bet Alef Meditational Synagogue
Susan Brewer, Shawnee Tribal Shaman
Rev. Kanjin Cedarman, Chōeizan Enkyōji Nichiren Buddhist Temple
Rev. Halima Thea Levkovitz, Sufi Order Seattle
Rev. Michael Douglas, Sufi Order Seattle
Rev. Hafizullah Chisti, Sufi Order Seattle
Pastor John Liljenstolpe, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Pat Simson, Seattle District, United Methodist Church

For more information, see:!/event.php?eid=125726970865593

Movie in the Sukkah – “Connected”

I don’t know about you but I am really excited to see the movie, “Connected,” in our Sukkah on Saturday night.  It’s not the type of movie you would expect to see on Sukkot but I feel the topic is so pertinent to each us in our daily lives.  As I check my email, update my status on Facebook, and even write here on the Bet Alef blog, I often wonder whether these actions are bringing me closer or further connected to people and the world around me.  Does technology make you feel more or less connected in the world?  Please join us in our Sukkah at 7pm on Saturday, October 15 as we view the film and ponder our connections to technology and the people around us.

About The Film:
For centuries, we’ve been declaring our independence. Now It’s time for us together to declare our Interdependence. Director Tiffany Shlain’s new documentary film, CONNECTED, is a moving eye opening exploration into what it means to be “connected” in the 21st century. CONNECTED touches the heart as deeply as it provokes the mind. Watch the trailer here:

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In The Greater Community

In addition to our Sukkot events (Decorating the Sukkah/Movie and Sukkot Workshop) going on this weekend, there are a few other events in our greater community that you might want to check out. Plus –  Don’t forget to reserve your tickets now for the upcoming World Premiere documentary, The Boys of Terezín (see below.)  This should be a truly remarkable experience for the entire Jewish community.

Jewish Family Service Sponsors: Mary Lou
October 16, 2011, 2:00 PM
Egyptian Theater, 805 East Pine Street, Seattle

From Israeli director Eytan Fox (Yossi & Jagger, Walk on Water) comes a lighthearted but touching musical miniseries, shaken up with the everlasting songs by Israeli pop icon Tzvika Pik. Meir, a young gay man just out of high school, moves to Tel Aviv hoping to find his mother who abandoned the family on his tenth birthday. On his journey, he unexpectedly transforms into a popular drag queen, Mary Lou, while also learning to be a man. Romantic complications, catchy songs and dance numbers, and a touch of tragedy lace this soul-searching but sparkling modern fable (reminiscent of Glee) that won an Israeli Emmy Award.
Catered kosher post film reception
More Info..

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Meditations for the Days of Awe: Today! – Day 9

Those of us who gathered on Rosh HaShanah morning were privileged to listen to a new song that our musicians added to their repertoire this year. It is called HaYom, which means either “this day” or “today.” And so here it is, this day – that in a lot of ways we have been waiting for all year long – is now upon us, and we are definitely not ready for it. We’re not even sure what “ready” would look like anyways.

I remember growing up, walking into the synagogue on Yom Kippur, being impressed by those who prayed with so much fervor, singing all the songs, knowing all the tunes; their eyes glued to the pages of the prayer book, and always standing up for the next prayer long before the rabbi would ask the rest of us to rise. I was sure that they embodied what “ready” should look like.

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