Hebrew Seminary Ordains New Rabbi

 

SKOKIE, IL, November 6, 2017 – Tirtzah Israel, from Chicago’s West-Englewood Community, was ordained by Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer on October 29th at Hebrew Seminary Rabbinical School for Deaf and Hearing. Growing up, Tirtzah’s grandmother role-modeled a personal and meditative connection to HaShem that both perplexed and inspired her. As an adult Tirtzah was introduced to Jewish meditation through the works of Aryeh Kaplan. His meditations and focus on introspection resonated with her. “The genome of Jewish Mysticism found in the records of the Near East culture,” says Tirtzah, “has its origins on the continent of Africa.” As she continued to study Kaplan over the years she learned that Hebrew to English translations differ and it is important to read Jewish texts in the original Hebrew language.

Tirtzah recognized that she needed a teacher, “a person who could help me achieve what I secretly longed for; a true understanding about healing and balance as a divine connection.” We are honored and proud to say that Tirtzah found this guidance and teaching at Hebrew Seminary from Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and his faculty of scholars.

Rabbi Tirtzah plans to teach Jewish mysticism, meditation, Kabbalah and their application to serve people longing to reconnect to God. “I refer to the God that dwells, and has always dwelled within each of us,” notes Rabbi Tirtzah. “I do not want to leave this world of existence without having made an attempt towards restoring tikkun and teshuva for a people whose ancestors had been so brutally violated, stripped of their humanity, yet struggled to survive to this very day,” Tirtzah adds.

Hebrew Seminary graduates serve in a variety of roles – as pulpit rabbis, educators, and chaplains. Graduates also perform public service and serve those with special needs, including the deaf community. Hebrew Seminary has been an inclusive and egalitarian community for the study and practice of Judaism for 25 years. Our program encourages the highest commitment to traditional scholarship, such as Talmud, Bible, and Hebrew, as well as the spiritual discipline of Kabbalah. This teaches our students to be scholars, educators, and leaders, as well as spiritual guides who can hear and share the voice of God with members of their communities.

Information about upcoming Hebrew Seminary classes can be found at www.hebrewseminary.org. To make arrangements to visit our program contact Alison Brown at 847/679-4113.

Practicing Kindness

We asked our students for their thoughts on practicing kindness.  We are pleased to share some of their essays.

Stop the madness!!!  —   I want to get off!!!
by Tirtzah Israel

Where’s our compassion for one another?  What happened to kindness?  Why are we so afraid to acknowledge its need and purpose in everyday life?  The power of kindness is here in our world waiting to be accessed as a collective resource, even as a preventive measure to counteract violence.

We are all sickened by the latest wake of mass killings and gun-violence due to bigotry and hatred.  Right now the earth seems to be filled with strife and malcontent.  I am reminded of the pre-flood portion to the Noach story where in his time the earth was filled with so much corruption that God decided to destroy the earth.  In our own time, we live in a society where both politician and gunman present themselves as demigods with the  “ultimate” solution for the world that appeals only to the lowest denominator of human existence.  They “fan the fires” for violence, divisiveness, power and influence both physically and psychological as a rationale for problem-solving.  These people, in my opinion, act out of ignorance, mis-information, mis-education, fear or/and are mentally deranged.

In real-time, the news outlets inundate viewers and readers with the gruesome details of human carnage that both sensationalize and desensitized the suffering of others so much so that we are rendered helpless in our grief.  We re-live these traumatic events and are shakened to the very core of our existence, yet too frightened to act as a collective body for the sake humanity.

Sure, there’s a collective, world-wide outpouring of kindness in response to these tragedies.  Yes, we are energized in those moments to support one another during the horrific initial emotional realization of raw cruelty.  However, no amount of kindness can offset the impact of the trauma perpetrated upon humanity when the outpouring of kindness occurs only in response to specific tragedies.  Without these horrific events, we too easily slip back into our self-serving and self protecting mode wishing for  safety as we desperately hold-on to our preferred lifestyle.  The test for all of us is for us to realize that we are all one people, intimately connected as one race; the human-race.  We all belong to one another and we are all responsible for one another as a collective human society.   Basically, we all want the same things out of life.  We all want to have the reasonable opportunity to be able to reach our potential, to be successful and prosperous, to be safe, happy, healthy, and no one wants to be made to feel “left-out.”  We naturally strive towards sharing — and when that doesn’t happen an eruption occurs.

Collectively, we have access to some of the most powerful tools in the world; more powerful than bullets and bombs in the form of love, compassion and kindness.   Yes, people we are designed to be kind because we all naturally gravitate towards it.  We seek kindness in one another.  Yet, it appears at least on the outside, as if we have forgotten or maybe we are ashamed of accessing that which is inherently fulfilling, intimately close and intrinsically healing  — Kindness/compassion.    These attributes are divinely bestowed upon us by The Creator.  They are part of our Universe.  In particular, kindness/compassion allows us to fulfill our highest purpose at being a shared and common humanity.  Kindness can be stress relieving.  Kindness is benevolent; Kindness fulfills our desire to do good and charitable deeds that benefits others.  And it begins with each and everyone of us, individually, to activate the kindness within ourselves; to love ourselves and to experience compassion for ourselves that can be shared by others.

If we could imagine our world without strife, without hatred and bigotry then we can actualize it.  It’s not impossible.  Together, we have the ability and power within us to make this dream a reality.  However, we  must decide to do this together.  We can simply begin by forming prayer networks that pray for the activation of kindness and compassion.  We can pray to activate healing the world; and to pray for a shared compassion that ends suffering.  It can become a contagious movement, neigborhood by neigborhood, community by community.  But, it begins with just one person — visualizing; imagining; and engaging their power to heighten kindness; compassion and love.  For the pessimist among us, I say to them I’m not suggesting we all hold hands and sing “kum-bi-ya” around the campfire (although, that’s not a bad thought).  No, I referring to a clear sense of responsibilty, and active-state of mindful kindness that honors life.

If we could just stop being so damagingly competitive, stop trying to be “the winner” and “king of the hill” for just a moment, it could create an intutive-moment that allows us to find that balance towards wholeness.  We can actually heal the world.  It’s within our power to do so because we are all connected to one another whether we like it or not.  When you are not healed, I’m not healed.  When I’m not healed, you are not healed.  But colllectively, we have the ability to end violence in our world and to achieve the wealth of balance by actively participating.     We each have the responsibilty.  We each have the power.  We each can help to turn our world around.

Please don’t be that one person who may be holding out from the rest of us impending us from achieving our goal for harmony.  It’s not too late.  The world is waiting for the power of your kind prayers with compassion.  I thank you for praying with me.