Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Prayer On The Road

In Career, Mental Health on February 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Even on tour, Madonna finds time for G-d.

Dear Yenta,

I am 27 and just got a job that involves traveling. I am from a small Jewish community and am worried about missing Shabbat and feeling isolated. Is there anything you have to offer? My job is based in the US, and only rarely we go abroad.


Wandering Jew

Dear WJ,

Vagabonding is a normal and easy state for some, and rocks the core of others. If you have a Type A personality, the lack of control and structure can be torture. I heard many a story from the Obama campaign about moving and roaming on a nightly basis. A few things in the face of such constant travel can help.

One, a gentleness and kindness with oneself. Keep a journal, bring bath salts, invest in a robe. Two, friends and family. And three, well, G-d. Yes, that three, or in my case, two letter word and the community that goes with it. Church and synagogue, a meditation session, an AA meeting, pick your poison. Whatever it is that reminds you that you are connected to something bigger than the roving body you inhabit will help as you flit across the country and beyond.

In lieu of actual Jewish resources, here is a list of some of my favorite synagogues and communities across America. In addition to these, you can find your own with just a little research. When I was a constant traveler I made sure I went to synagogue every Friday, a meditation center whenever I could find one, and yoga twice a week in a effort to stay as sane as possible. If you call a synagogue in advance and tell them you will be in town on business, I guaruntee they will find a home to host you for a homecooked Shabbos meal. If they don’t, I will cook you dinner myself next time I am in America.

The List:

There is one in practically every city, and they are very welcoming to travelers looking to honor Shabbat.

Adventure Rabbi
This woman brings her torah on ski trips, to hiking summits, etc, and leads services and weddings in the wilderness.
Boulder, CO

Nashuva: A Soulful Community for Prayer in Action
Services involve live music, chanting, silence, etc. Feels like revival.
Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Naomi Levy – famous, particularly for her book “To Begin Again.”

HaMakom: The Place for Passionate and Progressive Judaism
Santa Fe, NM
Led by a lesbian rabbi who leads community discussion and learning as part of the service.

Rabbi Malka Drucker

B’nai Jeshurun
“B’nai Jeshurun is a passionate Jewish community that inspires spiritual searching, lifts the soul, challenges the mind, and requires social responsibility and action.”
New York, NY

Tikkun Leil Shabbat: Songful, soulful sabbath services featuring a teaching about a social justice issue and followed by a potluck vegetarian dinner.
Washington, DC

Bet Mishpachah: An Egalitarian Synagogue Embracing Diversity
GLBT synagogue in DC with services led by congregants. No rabbi.
Washington, DC

Gishmey Bracha: Rain of Blessings
Online resource for spiritual Judaism.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon

Am Hayam: Cape Cod Havurah
Community-led prayer, potlucks, and learning. Mostly elderly, but a terrific model for positive Judaism and community.
Eastham, MA

Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center (Reform)
Services conducted in a circle around a table with a seated female rabbi.
Parsha is delivered in a discussion form with the whole community.
Vineyard Haven, MA

Rabbi Caryn Broitman

Pardes Levavot: A Jewish Renewal Congregation
Lafayette, CO

Rabbis Nadya and Victor Gross

Yesod Foundation: The Reb Zalman Legacy Project

Nevei Kodesh: Jewish Renewal Community of Boulder, Colorado
Boulder, CO

Rabbi Tirzeh Firestone

Fabrangen: An Independent, Egalitarian, Particapatory Havurah
Washington, DC

Have a favorite synagogue or community? Please share!

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Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

10 Ways to Help Japan

In Health and Body, Mental Health on February 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

Lady Gaga designed this bracelet to raise funds. Buy one at

Here is a list of 10 organizations and causes working to bring relief to Japan. Give to one, give to all. Do what you can, hug a friend, donate a billion – whatever it is, I believe it will help.

1) Searching For Loved Ones

For any who have loved ones abroad, Google has stepped up to help. Along with a tsunami alert posted on its front page, Google has launched the Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake to help connect people that may have been displaced due to the disaster. Google has also launched a crisis response page filled with local resources and emergency information.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202 647-5225.

2) Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and The Jewish Federation
Click on the links above to donate online now. You may also give by mail or phone: For Joint Distribution Committee – Check payable to JDC, please specify the program name. Attn: JDC, P.O. Box 530, 132 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017, (212) 687-6200.

Re: Jewish Federation, to donate by check, please make the check out to The Jewish Federations of North America and clearly mark JFNA Japan, Hawaii and the Pacific Relief Fund on the bottom of the check. The check should be sent to: The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268

3) The American Red Cross and Save the Children

The Red Cross has already launched efforts in Japan. Visit or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone. On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.

Save the Children has also responded.
The organization is currently organizing efforts and donations to its Children’s Emergency Fund will support outreach.

4) International Medical Corps

To donate or learn about other ways you can contribute to its medical response, visit
Also, text MED to 80888 from any mobile phone to give $10.


The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund was launched at to garner funds that will be given to a variety of relief organizations helping victims of the earthquake. It has already raised over $100,000, particularly from concerned Twitter users around the world.

6) Salvation Army

Salvation Army personnel are organizing efforts in Tokyo and will soon send a team to help the severely damaged city of Sendai, Japan.
To contribute to earthquake relief, text ‘JAPAN’ or ‘QUAKE’ to 80888 to make a $10 donation or visit designate gift for “Japan Earthquake/Tsunami”
By phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY – designate gift for “Japan Earthquake/Tsunami”

Or by mail: send your check marked “Japan Earthquake/Tsunami” to The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Relief Fund, PO Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728.

At this time, The Salvation Army is not accepting in-kind donations from the general public disaster relief operations in Japan as it is extremely difficult and expensive to ship in-kind donations overseas from the United States to Japan. The best way for U.S. donors to help Japanese disaster survivors is to make a cash donation.

7) Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is sending two three-person teams to the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in Japan.
To learn more about the organization’s efforts or make a donation, visit

8 Operation USA

Along with an appeal for monetary donations, Operation USA has also announced efforts to collect bulk corporate donations of health care supplies. If you are interested in donating bulk medical items, visit

9) PayPal

Judy Chang, head of PayPal’s nonprofit group, announced that transactional fees incurred by money transfers to US 501(c)(3) organizations (or charities registered with the Canada Revenue Agency) between March 11 and April 10 will aid relief efforts in Japan.

10) AmeriCares, ShelterBox and MercyCorps

Other relief organizations are also sending representatives to disaster sites, including AmeriCares and Shelterbox. MercyCorps is gathering donations for its overseas partner, Peace Winds Japan, which currently has personnel on the ground distributing emergency relief in Japan.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
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