Water From the Well column

Words of Torah by Rabba Kaya

clasped hands

From Grief to Joy

Tu b'Av: A Tikkun* for Tisha B'Av
Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on July 26, 2021

This Shabbat is special for many reasons. It is Tu b’Av, a lesser-known Jewish holiday that celebrates love. Traditionally, it was a day for betrothals. In modern times, weddings are often performed on this day, the first full moon after the Tisha b’Av. It is also a special Shabbat in the calendar called Shabbat Nachamu, Continue Reading »

Water from the well

Tisha B’Av

Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on July 14, 2021

In preparation for Tisha B’Av which begins this Saturday night, I would like to share a compelling reflection on this observance written by Rabbi Ellen Bernstein (author of The Promise of the Land haggadah). See below. Please join me on Saturday night in our Court Street parking lot for Havdalah at 9:00 pm followed by the chanting of Eicha/Lamentations Continue Reading »

Water from the well

“All that you touch changes”

Parashat Hukkat
Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on June 18, 2021

This week’s portion, Hukkat, deals with the mystery of death, the notion of impermanence, and the endless cycle of transformation. Our Torah portion opens with Parah Adumah– the Red Heifer ritual to purify those who have had contact with the dead, to transform their state from impure to pure again. One of the more mysterious Continue Reading »

Water from the well

Wrapped in Peace

Parashat Sh'lach
Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on June 4, 2021

Dedicated to my Dad, Larry Stern, on the approach of his first yahrzeit on June 15. My first experiences of a tallit and tzitzit was sitting next to my father in shul, in a very cold, overly air-conditioned sanctuary, with my father’s arm around my shoulders, his tallit draped over me. There, under his woolen Continue Reading »

hands made of writing clasped

Sacred Boundaries

Parashat Tazria/Metzora
Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on April 19, 2021

On Shabbat we honor and celebrate the magnificence of all of Creation. In psalm 92, the psalm for Shabbat, we sing: Mah gadlu ma’asekha Yah– How awesome is Your handiwork God, how fathomless Your designs. In our Creation story at the beginning of Genesis, Torah teaches that God transforms the world from a state of Continue Reading »

wild garden

Come Into My Garden

Parashat Shabbat Pesach
Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on April 5, 2021

In the burst of springtime, Shabbat Pesach arrives as an oasis of beauty and love. It is the one day in our year in which the Rabbis established the practice of publicly reading the book Shir Hashirim/The Song of Songs. As we look at the text, we will discover that ‘The Song,’ like Passover itself, is Continue Reading »

hands make a heart shape

A Community of Heart

Parashat Vayakhel
Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on March 10, 2021

YouTube link to a musical piece – about art – from a consummate musician and artist, singer/songwriter Alicia Jo Rabins.  Last week we read the story of the Golden Calf, of the misguided attempt of the Israelites to find security in a god made of gold. Torah says that the people gathered together/vayikahel, single-mindedly, in Continue Reading »

owl camouflage hiding

Nu… Why Purim?

Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on March 2, 2021

This month, we will celebrate the holiday of Purim at which time we read the Megillah of Esther. Connecting with the child in us all, we celebrate this redemption story with costumes, groggers and levity. It is a time of joy when most of the long winter is behind us and springtime beckons. Passover, our Continue Reading »

Butterfly in a semi-transparent Chrysalis


Parashat Va’era
Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on January 19, 2021

Dedicated to my cousin Haim Shtrum z”l As this past week’s disturbing events unfolded, shaking us to the core as a nation, we have much to think about, much to process. As Jews, we can look to Torah for some wisdom about this moment. This week we read from the book of Exodus, the beginning Continue Reading »

spiral of stained glass windows

Circling Back Home

Parashat Vayigash
Written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman Posted on December 25, 2020

Jacob’s long journey is culminating as the truth is finally revealed to him. His son Joseph is alive after all. Jacob is stunned. He has been in mourning for twenty years. Now, suddenly, the world as he knew it is turned upside down. Torah tells us that upon hearing the news of Joseph’s existence, Jacob’s Continue Reading »