sarah tauber


sarah tauber

North America » United States » Connecticut August 6th 2017

"Az der rebbe zingt...And when the rebbe sings..." is the title of a moderately well-known Yiddish song created originally by the opponents of Hasidism in Eastern Europe to mock the Hasids who followed their rebbe in ways that suggested unthinking devotion. But the Hasidim found the song delightful, not in the least because it indicated that their critics and rivals were paying attention to them and their ways. The song caught on. It's been passed down through the generations and across the ocean to a remote part of northwestern Connecticut. On a recent Shabbat evening I found myself at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center singing it gustily in the company of a spirited fellowship of comrades in prayer, song, study, and friendship, all of us part of Jewish Renewal's Davennin' Leadership Training Institute (DLTI for short). ... read more
Green Tree Zen
Colleagues and Friends
Table Fellowship

North America » United States » New York » Rockland July 8th 2017

Shabbat shalom to everyone from Stony Point Retreat Center! It's now the middle of the afternoon and I'm taking a brief rest after a spirited morning and afternoon of eating-learning-singing-praying-socializing. It's been a remarkable, exhilarating, tiring (but in a good way), and uplifting week with my comrades-in-linking-arms-and-hearts here. I don't know how everyone manages to pack in so much into less than one week. Yet it happens. The retreat center is a multi-faith intentional community that was founded nine years ago. A small group of Muslims, Jews, and Christians live full time at the site, which earns its income as a retreat and conference center. It's not a fancy place, but the food has been fresh and bountiful, and the rooms and bathrooms clean. Everyone treats each other with a caring and open attitude. I haven't ... read more

North America » United States » Colorado » Boulder January 18th 2017

Early tomorrow morning I return to the East Coast, leaving the majesty of the Rockies behind no less than four straight days without getting into a car to go anywhere. The days spent here have not been a vacation, but they have been rejuvenating and inspirational. There is first and foremost time spent surrounded by people who've chosen to dedicate a good part of their lives to consciously seeking out ways to bring joy, understanding, insight, and hope into the world. They put their various talents, experiences, values, and passions to this effort. Some are artist-rabbis, musician-educators, poets, cantor-song-writers, liturgists, story-tellers, community builders, spiritual directors...There's a judge who spent six years after work studying and now continues to be a judge while helping to co-lead a small congregation. Self-worth is not tied up with how much ... read more
Let's Sing Together!
Let's Dance Together!
Evening Music Jamming

North America » United States » Colorado » Boulder January 15th 2017

An unanticipated event in the Shabbat morning service took place here in the Omni Hotel ballroom where about two hundred of us gathered to pray, sing, dance, and celebrate the Sabbath together. After we completed the Torah reading - the stirring closing passages from the book of Genesis describing the death of Joseph and his final requests to his children - we waited for the haftarah, the section from the Prophets, to be chanted. Under normal circumstances, it would be passages from the Book of Kings, detailing the transition of royal power from King David to his son Solomon. Yet we are not in "normal circumstances" right now in our society. Instead, the reader shifted the focus from royalty to justice. All of the biblical prophets struggle with speaking truth to power, with exhorting the Jewish ... read more
The Rocky Mountains

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków September 30th 2016

The title of this blog post written from the lobby of the Hotel Kazimierz in the former Jewish section of Kraków exquisitely sums up the complex contradictions and richness of this week's visit. Yesterday our voyage began early with an excursion to the famous Roman Catholic stronghold of Czestochowa. A new museum to the Jews of that city has just opened. The exhibition, narrated by one of its creators and designed in conjunction with the new Polin Museum of Jewish history in Warsaw captures the adaptability, initiative, and dare I say Polishness of that once vibrant community. But there was a tragic underbelly to this place because it became one of the hotbeds of not only Nazi bestiality during the war, but also because of a particular Polish strain of antisemitism, with some roots to that ... read more
Jewish Theater Moguls
1909 Czestochowa
Nazi Efficiency

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland September 28th 2016

In the Talmud we read about the belief that in every generation there exist 36 righteous human beings who are unknown to each other and are also unaware of their own special role in the world. They are simple and humble and anonymous individuals who behave in such a humane way that they justify the reason for the continued existence of humanity. In Hebrew they are called both Lamed Vavnivks- based on the Hebrew letter lamed that equals 30 and the letter vav that equals six, and Tsadikim Nistarim - the hidden righteous. Today many of us felt we had met one of those in our generation. His name is Piotr. He's a Pole in his thirties who was born and lives in the city of Bedzin also known as Bendin in Yiddish. It's located in ... read more
Site of the City Synagogue
Street view

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków September 28th 2016

Thank goodness for the wonderful breakfast buffet the hotel provides. It's a chance to sit together with fellow travelers and talk before the long journeys ahead in the day. Getting to know each other' stories and impressions and create new connections. All the more important because this journey through a vanished world-the traces of which we are deciphering- carries with it for me a tremendous sense of the need to affirm life and blessing in the face of such total devastation and absolute brutality that the disappearance of Polish Jewish life represents for me. A stark example was yesterday's trip. We drove far to the east in the direction of Ukraine. Our first visit to the village of Markowa was to visit the newly opened museum dedicated to rhe Poles who saved Jews during the war. ... read more
Eat and Chat
Polish Countryside

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Bochnia September 27th 2016

Yesterday was the first full day with the group of 40 educators who've taken a week to gather in Kraków. From a 21 year old Austrian young man from the Tyrol to a 65 plus year old Israeli from a kibbutz in northern Israel we are on the same bus this week in order to understand more about the Jews of the territory in southeastern Poland described by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, many Jews from pre-war Poland, and then again the Nazis as Galicia. This was one of the densest heartlands of pulsating Jewish life for more than 500 years. It's where my father's father's family hails, and so it is the landscape that many of my ancestors looked upon. Yesterday we traveled to Bochnia. A small town of about 12,000 people, including about 2500 Jews in ... read more
Hasidic Prayer House
unmarked graves
Entrance to Bochnia cemetery

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków July 27th 2015

A joke from the Eastern European Yiddish pre-war repertoire: Question: Why is it that when all the other peoples of the world make a toast, they say, "To your health" but the Jews say, "L'chaim - To life"? Answer: First let us live, then we'll worry about our health. While I get this joke, I have tended to disagree with its negative spin on the origins of "to life." I don't want to take it too literally, and I want to emphasize instead the way Judaism insists on the gift, sanctity and blessing of life. Do we not find, after all, as far back as the book of Deuteronomy (30:19) the famous injunction by God to the Israelites to choose blessing over curse, and to embrace life? We are commanded to break any Sabbath restriction to ... read more

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków July 26th 2015

In the Jewish calendar today, Sunday, is the ninth day of the month of Av. It began on Saturday evening and it is considered the saddest day of the year. It commemorates a number of calamities in Jewish history, and is the culmination of a three week period of solemnity. Apart from Yom Kippur it is the only fast day in Judaism that lasts a full twenty five hours. The Talmud cites it as the day when the Romans began to burn and destroy the Second Temple in 70 CE, three weeks after the first breach of the walls surrounding Jerusalem. It was a calamity at the time because it meant the end of what until then had been the center of the Jewish religion. It also caused massive deaths and led to further rebellions that ... read more
The Alta Shul or Old Synagogue
Remnant of Medieval Wall Demarcating Jewish Kraków
Side Wall of Isaac Synagogue

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