the Shalom Center

the Shalom Center

Founded by Arthur Waskow, the Shalom Center equips activists and spiritual leaders with awareness and skills needed to lead in shaping a transformed and transformative Judaism that can help create a world of peace, justice, healing for the earth, and respect for the interconnectedness of all life.

https://theshalomcenter.org

Between the Fires: A Kavvanah for Lighting Candles of Commitment, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center)

Contributed on: י״ז באייר ה׳תשע״ח (2018-05-02) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

“Between the Fires: A Prayer for lighting Candles of Commitment” was composed by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, drawing on traditional midrash about the danger of a Flood of Fire, and the passage from Malachi. . . .


Ḥaroset, the Seder’s Innermost Secret: Earth & Eros in the Celebration of Pesaḥ, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Contributed on: י׳ בניסן ה׳תשע״ד (2014-04-09) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

There it sits on the Seder plate: ḥaroset, a delicious paste of chopped nuts, chopped fruits, spices, and wine. So the question would seem obvious: “Why is there ḥaroset on the Seder plate?” That’s the most secret Question at the Seder – so secret nobody even asks it. And it’s got the most secret answer: none. . . .


Eikhah for the Earth: Sorrow, Hope, and Action from the Shalom Center

Contributed on: י״א בסיון ה׳תשע״ד (2014-06-08) by Arthur Waskow | Marcia Falk | Tamara Cohen | the Shalom Center |

Tishah b’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, has historically been a day to mourn the Destruction of the First and Second Temples, centers of Israelite practice before the rise of Rabbinic Judaism (First Temple 975 BCE – 586 BCE; Second Temple 515 BCE – 70 CE) and the exiles that followed those destructions. Over the course of Jewish history this day of mourning and fasting has also come to commemorate many other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. This year we are beginning a new tradition. We are suggesting that in addition to, or instead of (depending on the norms of your community and personal practice) the traditional observance of Tishah b’Av, the time has come to use this powerful day to mourn the ongoing destruction of the “temple” that is our Earth, a tragedy for all peoples, creatures and living things, but one that is not complete and thus, with sufficient will and action, is in part, reversible. . . .


Prayer on Inauguration, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center, 2021)

Contributed on: ח׳ בשבט ה׳תשפ״א (2021-01-20) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

A prayer on being present in the moment of the inauguration of the 59th president of the United States. . . .


Who Can’t Breathe? Three Outcries and a Prayer, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center 2021)

Contributed on: י׳ באייר ה׳תשפ״א (2021-04-22) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

A prayer-poem by Rabbi Arthur Waskow in 2021 reflecting on our difficulty breathing, as a society, as humanity, and as a interconnected, interbreathing biosphere. . . .


I can’t breathe, We can’t breathe, Earth can’t breathe, a prayer-poem by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center 2020)

Contributed on: כ״ט באלול ה׳תש״פ (2020-09-17) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

A prayer-poem by Rabbi Arthur Waskow reflecting on our difficulty breathing, as a society, as humanity, and as a interconnected, interbreathing biosphere. . . .


The Last Tishah b’Av: A Tale of New Temples, by Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow and Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman (2006)

Contributed on: ב׳ באב ה׳תשע״ד (2014-07-28) by Arthur Waskow | Phyllis Berman | the Shalom Center |

Long ago there came a Ḥassid, visiting from Vitebsk to see his Rebbe. Struggling up hills, over cobblestones, through narrow alleyways, the Ḥassid came panting, shaking, to the door of a pale and quiet synagogue. So pale, so quiet was this shul that the pastel paintings on the wall and ceiling stood out as though they were in vivid primary colors. As the Ḥassid came into the shul, he saw his Rebbe high on a make-shift ladder, painting a picture on the ceiling above the bimah. . . .


קדיש יתום בזמן מלחמה | Mourner’s Ḳaddish in Times of War and Violence, by Arthur Waskow

Contributed on: י״ד בניסן ה׳תשע״א (2011-04-17) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

Jews use the Kaddish to mourn the dead, though it has in it only one word — “nechamata,” consolations – which hints at mourning. And this word itself is used in a puzzling way, once we look at it with care. As we will see below, it may be especially appropriate in time of war. The interpretive English translation below may also be appropriate for prayers of mourning and hope in wartime by other spiritual and religious communities. In this version, changes in the traditional last line of the Hebrew text specifically include not only peace for the people Israel (as in the traditional version) but also for the children of Abraham and Hagar through Ishmael (Arabs and Muslims) and for all the life-forms who dwell upon this planet. . . .


Blessing Group Torah Study with Brakhot, Ḳaddish, and Kavvanah, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Contributed on: י״ד בניסן ה׳תשע״א (2011-04-17) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

What the Rabbis taught about teaching and learning was that all Torah study should begin and end with blessings, just as eating does. Often, in liberal Jewish circles today, these blessings are not done. But without them, it is easier for Torah study to feel like a mere academic discussion, devoid of spirit. And where the blessings are said but only by rote, it is easier for Torah study to feel merely antiquarian and automatic. In Jewish-renewal style, how can we bring new kavvanah — spiritual meaning, intention, focus, intensity — to these blessings — and therefore to the process of Torah study itself? . . .


The Rainbow Haftarah by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1993)

Contributed on: כ״ח בתשרי ה׳תשע״ה (2014-10-22) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Jack Kessler (trōpification) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Zalman Schachter-Shalomi | Arthur Waskow | Elat Chayyim Center for Jewish Spirituality | the Shalom Center |

A declaration in 1993 by Rabbi Arthur Waskow in response to the impending danger of global warming and other ecotastrophes brought about by the callous harm of human industry and land use decisions. Translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. . . .


Prayer for the Earth, Air, Water, Fire of our Planet in Memory of Barry Commoner, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Contributed on: י״ז בתשרי ה׳תשע״ג (2012-10-03) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

May the words we are with Your help sharing today, Speak deeply –- with Your help — to our nation and the world. Help us all to know that the sharing of our breath with all of life Is the very proof, the very truth, that we are One. . . .


הגדה לסדר פסח | The Freedom Seder Passover Haggadah for the Earth by The Shalom Center and Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Contributed on: י״ד בניסן ה׳תשע״ד (2014-04-14) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

Forty years after the first Freedom Seder, new Pharaohs have arisen. The institutional Pharaohs of our day are pressing down not just one people, one community, or another, but all the peoples on our planet and the web of life itself. In this Freedom Seder, we address Dr. Martin Luther King’s warning about “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism,” which have threatened the very earth that sustains us all. For the Passover story reminds us: not only do new Pharaohs arise in every generation; so also do new grass-roots movement to free ourselves from these new pharaohs. Forty years after the first Freedom Seder, America today stands also on the brink of hope, “mixing memory with desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” . . .


ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | Rebirthing the Tree(s) of Life: Four Teachings for the Four Worlds of Tu BiShvat/Yah BiShvat by Arthur Waskow

Contributed on: ג׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ג (2013-01-14) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

The four teachings above are connected with the Four Worlds that the kabbalists saw as the architecture of the universe. When the Kabbalistic community of Tz’fat created the Seder for Tu BiShvat/ Yah BiShvat, they unfolded these Four Worlds in four cups of wine and four sorts of fruit and nuts (one sort so ethereal it was invisible and untouchable). This year, the full moon of Shvat will fall on Shabbat Shira itself, January 24-25. . . .


הגדה לסדר פסח | MLK +50 Labor-Justice Interfaith Freedom Seder, by R’ Arthur Waskow and The Shalom Center

Contributed on: כ״ז באדר ה׳תשע״ח (2018-03-14) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

The MLK+50 Interfaith Freedom Seder woven by the Shalom Center to reawaken and renew the prophetic wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during holy week and Passover in the 50th year since his death. . . .


סֵדֶר ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | A Tu BiShvat Seder to Heal the Wounded Earth, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (The Shalom Center)

Contributed on: א׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ד (2014-01-02) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

This Tu BiShvat haggadah focuses on healing the wounded Earth today, with passages on major policy questions facing the human race in the midst of a great climate crisis and massive extinctions of species. In each of the Four Worlds in this Haggadah (Earth, Water, Air, Fire) there are traditional, mystical, and poetical passages, and in each there are also contemporary passages on aspects of public policy (Earth: food and forest; Water: fracking; Air: climate; Fire: alternative and renewable energy sources.) These policy-oriented passages help make this a distinctive Haggadah. After these passages, this Haggadah encourages Seder participants to take time for discussion. They may also decide to omit some passages and/or add others. The desire for such a Haggadah grew from discussions of the Green Hevra, a network of Jewish environmental organizations. Thanks to Judith Belasco, Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Sybil Sanchez, Rabbi David Seidenberg, Richard Schwartz, Rabbi David Shneyer, and Yoni Stadlin for comments on an earlier draft of this Haggadah. . . .


תפילה בין השריפות | Prayer between the Fires (between the 32nd and 42nd days of the Omer, neohasid.org)

Contributed on: כ״ה בניסן ה׳תשע״ח (2018-04-09) by David Seidenberg | Arthur Waskow | neohasid.org | the Shalom Center |

This is a prayer to be read between the 17th and the 27th of Iyyar (בין י״ז ו-כ״ז באייר), between the 32nd (ל״ב) and 42nd (מ״ב) days of the Omer. . . .


Haftarah Reading for Yom Kippur morning (Isaiah 57:14-58:14), a slightly midrashic translation by Arthur O. Waskow

Contributed on: כ״ד באלול ה׳תשע״א (2011-09-23) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center | Yeshayahu ben Amōts |

As we move not just toward a new “year” (shanah) but toward a moment when repetition (sheni) becomes transformation (shinui), I hope we will remember the roots of Jewish renewal in the upheavals of the 1960s as well as the upheavals of the 1760s, the roots of Judaism in the great “political” speeches of the Prophets, and the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who said that in a great civil rights march his legs were praying, and who argued again and again that “spirituality” and “politics” cannot be severed. As Heschel also said, “Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive.” . . .


והיה אם שמע | v’haya im shemo’a: a Prayer in a Time of Planetary Danger by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Contributed on: כ״ד במרחשון ה׳תשע״ג (2012-11-09) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

A midrashic translation/ interpretation of the second paragraph of the Sh’ma. . . .


תפילה בין השריפות | Abridged Prayer Between the Fires for Lag Ba’Omer (neohasid.org)

Contributed on: י״ז באייר ה׳תשע״ח (2018-05-02) by David Seidenberg | Arthur Waskow | neohasid.org | the Shalom Center |

“Between the Fires” by Rabbi David Seidenberg, originally published at neohasid.org, is derived from the prayer of Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center), “Between the Fires: A Prayer for lighting Candles of Commitment” which draws on traditional midrash about the danger of a Flood of Fire, and the passage from Malachi. Another version of this prayer by Rabbi David Seidenberg, “A Prayer between the Fires (between the 32nd and 42nd days of the Omer)” is available, here. . . .


The Presence of an Absence: a Public Reading for the Fast of Esther, the dark side to Purim, by Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow

Contributed on: ו׳ באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״ט (2019-03-13) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

A public reading offered by Rabbi Arthur Waskow for the Fast of Esther in response to recent events in the State of Israel by the right-wing government of Bibi Netanyahu admitting Jewish fascists into their administration. . . .


Zekher Milah, a different tack on Brit milah & Brit banot by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Contributed on: ו׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ד (2014-01-06) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

For a number of reasons, some medical, some psychological, some spiritual, some communal-traditional, I support and urge male circumcision. When couples have come to me and despite my advice are adamant in refusing to do it with a boy-child, AND/OR if they ask my advice about a brit/ covenant ceremony for a girl — I urge them to follow what I’ve proposed below. . . .


סֵדֶר ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | Pray as if the Earth Matters: A Tu BiShvat Seder, by Sarah Barasch-Hagans, et al (The Shalom Center)

Contributed on: כ״ז באדר ה׳תשע״ח (2018-03-14) by Arthur Waskow | Sarah Barasch-Hagans | the Shalom Center |

Created by students of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Rabbi Arthur Waskow. Written by Sarah Barasch-Hagans, Sarah Brammer-Shlay, Miriam Geronimus, Lonnie Kleinman, Chayva Lerman, Michael Perice, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, May Ye. Formatted and Edited by Sarah Barasch-Hagans. . . .


שְׁמַע | Shema, an interpretive translation by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (2003)

Contributed on: י״ב באב ה׳תשע״א (2011-08-12) by Arthur Waskow | the Shalom Center |

Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el — Listen, You Godwrestlers! Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh To hear — YHWH/ Yahh Hear in the stillness the still silent voice, The silent breathing that intertwines life; YHWH/ Yahh elohenu Breath of life is our God, What unites all the varied forces creating all worlds into one-ness, Each breath unique, And all unified; YHWH / Yahh echad! Yahh is One. Listen, You Godwrestlers! No one people alone owns this Unify-force; YHWH / Yahh is One. . . .