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Alden Solovy

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Lit Hanukkah candles in the foreground; out of focus hanukkiyah in the background

After two days of shiva for my wife Ami, z”l, Passover began. That was nearly 10 years ago, but I still remember vividly my feeling of disconnection from the seder and the spiritual disorientation caused by the juxtaposition of my grief with the joy and beauty of Pesach.

Almost immediately after the mass murder at Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh, I wondered, what would Hanukkah be like there? Coming so soon after such massive trauma, how would the Festival of Lights be felt in the hearts and spirits of the people?

My goal became to find a liturgical...

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Single candle burning in darkness

This acrostic piece that spells out “Tree of Life Pittsburgh Tree of Life" is, of course, a response to the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue this morning. It is meant to be used with two other prayers: “After a Deadly Anti-Semitic Attack” and "Racist Violence against Houses of Worship."

Prayer for the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

Tree of Life, Revive our souls, Enrich our days,  Entreating Your blessings.  Oh, God of Peace,  Fill our hearts with comfort, a Letting Your Torah shine,  In the fullness of our love.  Faith in You, our God,  Eternal Source of blessings....

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Closeup of Jerusalem stone as at the Western Wall

I am sick with sorrow. Sick with revulsion. Sick with tears.

On Saturday night, at the corner of El Wad and Sha’ar Barzel streets in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, five police set up a human barrier to prevent a gang of young, religious Jews from marching deeper into the quarter. Sha’ar Barzel leads to the Kotel HaKatan – the Little Kotel – the continuation of the larger part of the Western Wall, which almost exactly faces where the Holy of Holies of the ancient Jewish Temple is believed to have been.

For the past five years, on the evening of Tishah b’Av, I’ve...

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Small candles lit in the shape of a heart

On a bus-stop bench in my Jerusalem neighborhood this morning, a couple in Muslim garb spoke softly to each other. On the same bench, an ultra-Orthodox man sat studying Talmud. Signs of hope for peace, for coexistence, are abundant in this city. They’ve been overwhelmed by images and emotions from actions at the Gaza border fence. What do we say to God in these moments of anguish? We cry in pain, we beseech heaven with our lamentations, and we beseech each other with our wailing. We ask, isn’t there a better way?

Crafted to avoid politics or accusation, it’s for everyone who has...

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Stack of crackers

In Parashat B'shalach, God begins to provide manna for the Israelites wandering in the desert. If you look carefully, with your heart, with the eyes of your soul, you’ll see that manna never stopped flowing from heaven. Love is everywhere. Blessings abound. God’s gifts are yours.

Manna

Manna still flows from heaven, Riding on beams of light, Warmth and heat, Awe and passion, Wonder and glory, Feeding this grateful heart.

Manna still flows from heaven, Summoned with beams of prayer, Mourning and jubilation, Praise and thanksgiving, Hope and yearning, Praising God’s Holy...

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