Our teachings tell us we are infused with a divine spark. This pinnacle of light connects us to G-d and to each other. When I celebrate the success of my friends, I share that happiness through this divine spark. When someone is grieving, I can reach out with empathy; and that is the divine spark.
We nurture our connection to the divine with our acts and our thoughts. When we are kind and considerate, when we listen and try to understand, when we think of the well-being of another, we engage our divine spark. Our right actions and thoughts are the key to our connection with this inner light. It is not because we are tested. I don’t believe that something actively tests us.
But I know that when I am acting congruently with my sense of morality, I can sense the spark’s presence. When I betray my sense of right and wrong; when I fool myself with rationalizations; when I take the easy path, I lose my connection to the inner fire.
I find it, ultimately, easier to live a life free from the distraction of my ego endlessly telling me I should have done something differently. It is much easier to do the right thing in the first place. And it takes less time!
This has been no easier during the Pandemic than in other times. I find that the human part of me makes mistakes. It does not always do the right thing, take right action, and have right thoughts. This is normal. My connection to the divine spark is the balancing salve, taming the ego and tuning into divine consciousness.
So, I have been investing in my divine spark. How? By closing the gap between my actions and my expectations. How do I this?
Positive, spiritual, and funny Facebook groups
Striving for understanding
Recognizing when I am feeling ‘off.’
And many more!!
There are endless ways. You will surely see some on my list, and you will have a list of your own. As we cultivate our spiritual presence, as we more deeply connect with our inner divine spark, something miraculous starts to happen!
We feel better. ‘It’s better to give than to receive’ has roots in this truth. Also, ’charity is good for the soul.’ We fill our language with witty ‘truisms’ encouraging us to accentuate this side of our existence. The ‘reality’ of our human existence can coincide with this vision of the inner spark. And as we pour our energy and thoughts into this divine connection, the connection grows.
It becomes easier to connect. The connection becomes stronger. The spark becomes an ember, becomes a flame, and then who knows? Can this divine presence charge us even at the cellular level? Research suggests it can! And we can take comfort in knowing that over time we truly do change.
Our cells die and regenerate such that as we age, our entire body is 100% replacement parts from original. Our bodies have changed from infant to child to adult to aged. They are not the same bodies. Our consciousness survives, as does our link to the divine.
As I experience the High Holidays, my thoughts turn to our congregation. If I have interacted with you, I have probably been in someway unkind. I may have ignored your feelings or dismissed your ideas. At times, I have been forceful. At times, I have barked when I was in pain. The value of my apology will be in my pursuit of right action as we continue our paths. I hope you forgive me as well, as I forgive you for what I may have perceived as hurtful. And in this way, may we continue to reach for the divine by growing our inner light.
Founder, A Peaceful Light
Daniel Hochmanhas deep roots at CBB. His favorite pastimes are loving his wife Mandy, music, and pondering the meaning of life.
Lynn Altschul: Maintaining Good Mental Health as Covid Cases Surge Again
The Mental Wellness Committee at CBB is engaged in understanding and providing activities, education and strategies for maintaining good mental health for our congregation. We will be exploring a variety of topics with the hope of bringing awareness and clarity to the many aspects that effect our mental health. We also hope to offer insights and observations in how to maintain a balanced and healthy perspective during these challenging times.
With the current rise in the Delta variant Covid cases, it is easy to feel discouraged. Last May and June many of us felt that we were, at last, at the end of the dark tunnel and that we could begin to resume our normal activities. Restaurant dining, gathering with friends indoors, shopping and travel all seemed within our grasp. But as the summer has worn on, it has become apparent that we are not out of the Covid woods yet and, in fact, in many places, the number of cases are at all time highs. As we send our unvaccinated children back to schools and some of us return to the workplace, how do we cope with the resurgence of this virus and all the fears associated with it?
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as “a state of well being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” While the increased stresses caused by the Pandemic go beyond our normal stresses, positive mental health can help people live happier, healthier and longer lives.
Taking care of our Mental Health impacts the quality of our lifestyles and is ever more critical during these challenging times. In fact, Mental Health can be as important as physical and medical health in maintaining an active and healthy life. Outside factors such as loss of job, health issues, financial stress, relationships, etc, can seriously threaten our mental health and diminish the quality of our lives. While it can be challenging, there are things that we can do to bolster and maintain a more productive and positive outlook. Many of these strategies are simple but can make a difference in the quality of our day-to-day lives.
Stay Physically Active Being physically active is good for your mind as well as your body as it releases mood boosting endorphins that provide a relaxed sensation. Physical activity can help to reduces stress and anxiety. The Presidents Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week.
Eat and Sleep Well Taking care of your body influences your mental health .The Mayo Clinic recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. In addition, maintaining a healthy body weight can serve to reduce feelings of irritability, anxiety and depression.
Take Breaks Even during a pandemic, life can get hectic. Taking a break regularly, whether by using meditation, taking a walk or listening to music, can improve your overall sense of well being. And taking a break from the news can be helpful in reducing anxiety.
Spend Time with Friends and Family Companionship is good for your health. Connecting with others can boost happiness, reduce stress and improve self confidence and self worth.
Focus on the Positives As difficult as it may be in todays uncertain times, thinking positive thoughts can influence how you feel and your general outlook.
In these challenging times, we may not always be able to practice these strategies and just getting through each day may be the best we can do. Be kind to yourself and take comfort in knowing that you are doing the best that you can.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have a question or mental health concern. Email CBB Director of Community Engagement, Mariela Socolovsky at email@example.com to learn more.
Lynn Altschul is a retired Family Therapist specializing in Child Development and the support of young families. She received her LMFT from the Family Institute at Northwestern University. Lynn is a CBB board member and active on several boards at Jewish Family Service in Santa Barbara. Originally from the Chicago area, Lynn and her husband have enjoyed Santa Barbara life for the past fifteen years while continuing to spend their summers back in the Midwest. She has four grandchildren and enjoys a variety of activities including photography, painting, bicycling, walking and reading.
Beth Weinberg: Reflections on Yolanda Savage Narva
Editor’s note: CLICK TO VIEW Yolanda Savage Narva’spresentation on racial equality, diversity, and inclusion, from our June 20, 2021 Kenny Gaynes Memorial Sunday Morning Live. Savage Narva is the Director of Racial Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Union for Reform Judaism. (She is also the aunt to CBB’s own Josh Narva.)
Community member Beth Weinberg reflects on Savage Narva’s presentation in today’s CBB Voices blog post. –Ed.
I have spent time thinking about Black Lives Matter and how to become part of the solution instead of the problem. I set out reading all the books that were currently discussing systemic racism, these include: White Privilege, White Fragility, Caste just to name a few. So, I am a white Jewish woman who reads books. Now what?
I believe that if any group’s rights are compromised we are all at risk for ours to be compromised as well. Does Takun Olum encourage us to make the world better for all people, not just selected groups? Now what? How do I move from beliefs to action?
After listening to Yolanda’s presentation I felt inspired. Her use of “Public Narrative through Storytelling” was a wonderful way to put context to how we view ourselves. She breaks this down into three categories
The story of self
The story of us
The story of now
These categories help identify individual values, the community concerns and where we are in the present. It shines a light on what are the important values for ourselves and how they function in our daily life. It may even point out implicit bias which is so integrated within ourselves. We have to search hard to find it.
She suggests the idea of: learn, unlearn, relearn. Sounds like that should be easy, but changing ourselves can be hard. It takes time and we tend to revert back to what is familiar and comfortable.
Yolanda also said when you don’t know what to do to just keep moving.
So, I have decided to do just that. I pledge to speak up for the rights of all. To feel uncomfortable in areas that are unfamiliar. To ask myself the tough questions that expose my own bias and how I benefit from being white. It will not be fast and it will not be perfect. But I will keep trying to be one more person that moves away from not welcoming our differences and fear of “other.”
Beth Weinberg has been a member of CBB for over 30 years.
Rabbi Ira Youdovin: What Can be Expected from the New Israeli Government?
Folks are asking how long will the new Israeli government hold together, and what might it accomplish? My answer to both questions is the same: I don’t know. And anybody claiming to know is fooling himself and/or trying to fool you.
On the one hand, prospects for its survival are dim. Composed of eight parties with a staggering diversity of views, many of them conflicting, it’s difficult to identify significant issues on which all will concur. But the parties understand this and agreed that each of them, including the Palestinian Ra’am, will have the power to veto legislation before it’s introduced for Knesset discussion and vote, thus avoiding the danger of losing a vote of confidence that would force yet another national election. They were willing to take this unusual step for the specific purpose of forming a coalition with the votes to end Prime Minister Netanyahu’s twelve-year tenue, the longest in Israel’s history.
But Bibi isn’t fading away. He’s leading the opposition while awaiting a court’s ruling on the three felony counts on which he’s been indicted. This could take months, even years. But it’s well within the realm of possibility that the parties will maintain discipline until then, rather than risking another election which Netanyahu, emboldened by his rivals’ inability to form a stable government, is virtually certain to win.
The new government might be stable, at least in the near term and possibly even longer. But what can it accomplish when any of its eight member parties can block proposed legislation before it reaches the Knesset floor? Well…some things are possible.
Without (ultra-Orthodox) Haredi parties in the coalition, it should be possible to take a few steps forward in the on-going struggle for Jewish pluralism. For example, a plan for facilitating women’s and mixed-gender worship services at the Kotel (Western Wall) should (at long last) be implemented. It was approved by the Cabinet in 2017 after a heroic effort led by Natan Sharansky, but withdrawn at the last minute when the Haredim threatened to bring down the government. It’s been sitting in limbo ever since, angering Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jews throughout the world.
But while the Haredi parties are gone, Haredim are not. Prime Minister Bennett’s Yamina Party is right-wing Orthodox. (Bennett is Israel’s first prime minister to wear a kippah in his daily life). So it’s highly unlikely that the Knesset will vote to allow civil marriage and marriages conducted under non-Orthodox auspices in Israel to be entered into the population registry.
There could be a dramatic, and long overdue, enhancement in the quality of life for Palestinian citizens of Israel (those living inside the Green Line). The Palestinian Ra’am party ran the same kind of election campaign waged by politicians throughout the world, promising to deliver new opportunities for its constituents’ advancement in Israeli society, cleaner streets, fewer potholes, better schools, more effective policing against crime in their neighborhoods, and a greatly increased budget for infrastructure. Because Ra’am’s four seats gave the coalition a slim Knesset majority, the new government’s platform calls for huge expenditures in these areas.
On the other hand, it’s likely that the standoff over the future of the Occupied Territories and their inhabitants will continue. The three hard right parties in the coalition—Yamina, Yisrael Beiteinu and New Hope—are committed to expanding settlements and moving toward annexing at least a substantial portion of the West Bank. But they are blocked by the leftist Labor and Meretz parties, as well as Ra’am and, to some extent, the centrist Yesh Atid and Blue/White who seek to end the Occupation and move toward a two-state solution.
But there may be subtle, yet significant, changes in the nature of the Occupation. Although there is no Israeli consensus for ending it—with opposition rooted in ideological aspirations as well as fears of repeating what happened in Gaza in 2005 when Israel withdrew and Hamas terrorists surged in—-Israelis are asking themselves if it needs to be enforced with brutality bolstered by a two-tier system of justice that evokes allegations of apartheid both inside Israel and abroad.
The Israel-American philosopher and social scientist Micah Goodman calls this “shrinking the conflict”. Are punitive house demolitions necessary? Late night “knocks on the door”? Hundreds of checkpoints? If settler hoodlums burn Palestinian olive groves shouldn’t they be subject to the same measure of justice that would apply if the perpetrators were Palestinians? How much of this is essential to Israel’s security? And how much is intended to harass the Palestinians to the point where they will leave?
I believe—and here I move from analysis to hope and prayer—that the very existence of this unlikely coalition, cobbled from disparate parts willing to compromise in order to pursue a shared goal, may effect change in the nature of Israeli political discourse and thinking, softening its toxic nature and moving people to raise their sights beyond the tumultuous here and now to fix their vision on creating a better future for all who need to find of way of sharing their troubled, but sacred land.
The new government may fall tomorrow. Or maybe not. But its every existence, however brief it may be, shows that the heretofore impossible in time becomes possible.
First mentioned in 1238, one of the oldest Jewish settlements in the Czech lands.
In 1568 the Jews were expelled from the town. Historical sources refer to their number at the time as “sizeable.”
In 1853 the first Jewish family moved back, in 1880 there were 332 Jewish citizens, in 1900 there were 415 and in 1930, 215 people claimed their Jewish heritage.
The Jews in Pribram enjoyed a rich social life; there was a chevra kadisha, a Sisterhood, and charity and youth organizations. Before WWI there was even a kosher restaurant.
During the Nazi occupation, 171 Pribram Jews were killed in the camps, including 18 children under 15. The youngest was Pavel Schling, he was four years old.
In 1873 the building of the synagogue (in the then-popular Moorish style) began and in 1875 it was finished and the first Torah scroll was placed in the synagogue.
In the 1960s many Torah scrolls were sold to Western Jewish organizations all over the world.
The last Pribram rabbi, Dr. Emil Friedman, was killed in Auschwitz in 1943, along with 543 Jewish people from Pribram and the surrounding area.
During WWII, the synagogue was used as a warehouse and from 1946 to 1957 it housed collections of the town museum.
In 1966, due to only a very small number of Jewish people in Pribram, the congregation donated the synagogue to the town of Pribram.
The magistrate accepted the donation, only to tear the synagogue down in 1969.
The location of the medieval Jewish cemetery in unknown.
The new Jewish cemetery was founded in 1879. There are currently 150 beautifully preserved grave stones and a monument to the 543 Nazi victims, unveiled in 1954. The last Jewish burial took place in 1958. The cemetery is very well preserved and taken care of.