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Becoming Free: A Buddhist Jewish Passover Journey
If you attended the Seder, please fill out this brief survey!
What does it take to become free? That is the central question Jews explore during Passover. Recently, many Jews have been drawn to Buddhism which also offers rich wisdom about freedom. Join us for a fresh, contemporary celebration of Jewish and Buddhist teachings about becoming free.
We’ve been receiving many questions about our 8th Night Passover Seder: What do we mean by a Buddhist Jewish Passover Seder?
Every year, our 8th Night Community Seder has a different theme. The theme colors the ways that we engage the components of a traditional Passover Seder: how we ask the four questions, reflect on the 4 children, tell the Exodus story, taste the foods on the Seder plate, and open the door for Elijah.
We have selected Buddhism as this year’s theme because so many Jews are involved with Buddhism. The place where the two traditions join is the question – how does one become free?
For Jews who are practicing Buddhists, we hope this Seder is a way to enrich your experience of a Passover Seder. For all other Jews and loved ones, we hope this will be a transformative experience for your own spiritual journey and broadens your sense of what it is possible for Passover to be.
We hope to see you there. You can Register here.
Mitchell Hall at Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York Street, Denver, CO 80206
Click here for maps and directions
There is a three-level parking structure between York and Josephine, which can be entered from either street.
What people have said about Passover
“This is a culturally rich, rich experience that resonates highly in this part of the world. Thank you!”
“I like JYW’s approach & keen awareness of marginalized, non-dominant groups since that’s such a deep aspect of Jewish experience & we have so much to offer the world as a result.”
“Well thought out and nicely done seder; enjoyed by my non jewish guests”
By Rabbi Brian Field
At the heart of the holiday of Purim is the Biblical Book of Esther. One of the most curious things about the Book of Esther is that there is no mention of God in it. Many Jews today are atheists (don’t believe in God) and others are agnostics (aren’t sure whether they believe in God or not). Today many atheists and agnostics struggle to find a place for themselves in Jewish religious life. The words in the prayerbook and the stories in the Torah seem so certain about God.
I have a framed piece of art in my office that was created by a brilliant Jewish writer and artist named Lawrence Bush. The background is black. On the left side of the poster is a large white circle. The circumference of the circle gradually dissipates into the dark. Out of the center of the circle and stretching into the dark are three terms or phrases in large capital letters. The phrase on top reads “I Deny,” which is the perspective of an atheist. Directly beneath “I Deny” is written “Adonai,” a traditional Jewish name for God. The term directly beneath that reads “I Dunno,” which is what an agnostic might say. I invite you to say them out loud, one after the other: “I Deny.” “Adonai.” “I Dunno.” Hmm. Perhaps they’re not so far apart after all.
Click here for an enlarged photo of Larry Bush’s piece:
By Rabbi Brian Field, February 14, 2013
Purim occurs as winter is melting into spring. Parkas are shed, windows are flung open, and people re-encounter each other on the street. Celebrants wear costumes, make mishloach manot (in Yiddish – shalach mones) – baskets of special treats for neighbors and friends, give gifts to the poor and enjoy a holiday meal. Some people have called Purim the Jewish Mardi Gras.
Purim is based on the Biblical Book of Esther. It takes place in the Persian Empire where Jews are a minority. Esther is a young Jewish woman who hides her Jewish identity to marry the Persian King. When the prime minister, Haman, plots to murder the Jews, Esther reveals her Jewish identity and denounces Haman’s plot. The Persian Jews are saved and Haman and his followers are punished instead.
At the heart of the communal Purim celebration is a raucous reading of the Book of Esther, known as the Megillah (Hebrew for scroll). Every time that Haman’s name comes up in the reading, people make noise to drown it out. Another popular tradition is the Purim shpiel (play) that both re-enacts the story of Purim and at the same time pokes fun at community leaders, including the rabbi!
This year Purim occurs on Saturday evening, February 23 and throughout the day on Sunday, February 24.
You can find more resources at:
By Dr. Caryn Aviv, January 22, 2013
Tu B’Shevat is coming! What’s that, you ask? It’s the Jewish birthday of the trees! On January 25, which corresponds to the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, Judaism offers a second new year’s holiday – for the trees and the earth (the first new year’s is Rosh Hashanah). Throughout the centuries, Jewish people have celebrated this holiday in various ways. Some people enjoy eating the seven kinds of fruits mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. In the 16th century, Jewish mystics (Kabbalists) decided to create a seder for Tu B’shevat that was modeled on the Passover seder. In the 20th century, many Jewish people collected and donated money to plant trees locally and in Israel. More recently, American Jews have begun to connect Tu B’Shevat with environmental issues, food justice/sustainability, and aspirations for healing the earth.
As the Colorado winter continues and we start longing for spring, we invite you to take this opportunity to eat some fruit, plant some herbs, appreciate nature, and celebrate this wonderful Jewish holiday!
You can find more resources at:
From Rabbi Brian Field
We warmly welcome single parents, two-parent households, complex family constellations, people seeking families of choice, children of all ages and even those who cry while the rabbi is speaking. If your family is multiethnic or multiracial, if you are Jew of color or of white privilege, you are welcome. We warmly welcome you if you have brought your family along or if your family made you come, if you are seeking solitude or the company of others. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast.
We warmly welcome all those who are queer, straight, bisexual, gay, questioning, lesbian, or who prefer no label at all. We warmly welcome all those who are single, happily married and not-so, divorced and separated. We welcome women, drag queens and kings, men, transgender folks and people who are intersex/ed.
We offer a sincere welcome to those who are Jewish, are Jew-ish, love a Jew or like a Jew, converting to Judaism, considering converting to Judaism, a family member of someone in the process of converting to Judaism. We welcome the respectfully curious, seekers and practitioners of all faiths, to those of Sephardi, Mizrachi, Ashkenazi or unknown descent. We welcome you if you embrace mysticism, if you question or reject God, if you employ contemplative practice; if you are Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox, Renewal or Reform; if you are a Humanist, secular, cultural, culinary or a post-denominational Jew.
We welcome you if you are poor, working class, middle class, owning class or anywhere in between, if you come in a suit or heels—or both, dress in jeans, color coordinate or mismatch, wear a yarmulke or don’t; have tattoos, piercings, bifocals—or all three; have blue hair, no hair, a mohawk or a perfect coif. We don’t care if you are more Jewish than Moses, have only one Jewish father, have two Jewish mothers, are a Jew by choice, or a Jew without one. If you only come twice a year, don’t call your mother enough, or still live with her, you are welcome.
You are welcome if you speak fluent Hebrew, stumble on transliteration, never uttered a word in your life, curse in Yiddish, speak only English or sing in Ladino. If you’re Israeli, if you’ve been to Israel on Birthright, never been, are passionately in love with Israel and/or are deeply conflicted about it, you are welcome.
A special welcome to you if you don’t have a perfect body, or work out too much; if you have wrinkles on wrinkles, or have botoxed them away; if you rode your bike here, or your SUV, or came on your wheelchair; if you are a soccer mom, a football widow or a hockey dad, or if you detest sports altogether. We welcome artists, writers, students, singers and those who crunch numbers, are retired, practice law, unemployed, under-employed, teach, build, plant or serve, borrowers or lenders or both.
We welcome you if you are down on your luck, or happier than sour cream on latkes, tired of religious dogma, are skeptical and suspicious (many of us are), doubtful, hopeful, hopeless, selfless or self-satisfied. We welcome you if you’ve been having problems or are good with answers, or if you don’t like “organized religion” —we’ve been there too. We extend a warm welcome to activists, the apolitical, accidental advocates and silent resisters, those who embrace the status quo and those who buck convention.
If you don’t fast on Yom Kippur or refrain from wearing leather, dip your apples in honey or have never blown a shofar, you are welcome. We welcome you if you are a board member of Judaism Your Way, a volunteer, a first-timer, a member of a local synagogue, someone from out-of-town, or someone who stumbled in accidentally. You are welcome!
By Rabbi Brian Field
At its root, Judaism is not principally about being Jewish but the Jewish people’s responses to the eternal human questions.
In short, Judaism is not just for Jews.
It’s for anyone who might be engaged by the Jewish conversations about being human.
It means that everything in Judaism is potentially available to any human being,
And therefore Judaism needs to be languaged in a way that is fully accessible to any person.
There are as many ways of being human as there are human beings.
Judaism includes many of these ways.
What’s your way?
Let’s explore it together.
We are thrilled/delighted to announce the addition of Dr. Caryn Aviv to the JYW team as Associate Director and Jewish Educator. Caryn is a professor of secular Jewish society and civilization at University of Colorado, the co-author of several books on contemporary Jewish life, and a Storahtelling maven. Read more about Caryn here