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Rabbi Dantowitz January 21, 2016—11 Shevat 5776

Last week I attended the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Retreat in Simi Valley, CA. Along with 55 rabbis and cantors we focused on the spiritual practices of text study, prayer, meditation, mindful eating, yoga, and talking to God (hitbodedut) with the majority of each day (after dinner until after lunch) in silence. It’s amazing how “noisy” it is even in silence as quieting one’s mind is no small task.

The theme was ‘Crossing the Red Sea,” matching the weekly Torah portion from the book of Exodus, Beshalach. Many themes were explored, including freedom (from slavery) which tied in powerfully with Martin Luther King, Jr.  What was it like for the Israelites to move through a difficult spot (the Israelites were caught between the Egyptian Army and the Red Sea)?

It was an intense few days learning with a beloved teacher, Melila Hellner-Eshed (Zohar scholar from Jerusalem). At the end, she encouraged us to create modern Midrashim (expounding upon a word or text). There were so many threads of ideas to follow and I wrote late into the night before departing and again on the airplane home. Here are my reflections on my flight home, Thursday, January 21 (before Blizzard Jonas arrived).

Flight Home

Awake in the night

Dark not yet turning to light

Sounds of owls and birds

Stars’ light fading soon from view

Soon dawn will be here

Am I ready to move into a

new day

I remain quiet

Not yet ready to move

But the suitcase is almost


It’s time to go forward

God has birthed a new day

Remnants of red in the sky


Weather delays wreak havoc on

the journey

Will I be able to cross the sea

And cross the country

Anticipating departure in 5 hours

Already delayed 5 hours

Shall I remain silent and not cry out

against this challenge


I call the airline

Wait a while

Get disconnected

I call again

An angel, a malach

Of the airline

Someone to help me fly


Yes, I can change my flight

And the shuttle van should reach the airport

In time


Earlier flight is delayed

Next flights are booked

A seat is available on the 11:30 am flight

Window, not aisle, okay.


I arrive at the airport

With ease, no line for the kiosk

I print my ticket

27 B-only middle seats remain


On board to my left, a gentle looking

Man with a beard

To my right, a woman named Mickey

I meet her (she saw my Hebrew text)

And learn we have a mutual friend

It’s light outside

The journey is smooth

Yomam valaila (day and night)

It’s a busy day

Beginning in the dark

Full of white clouds and blue skies

From above

Looking forward to night across

The country

Grateful for a safe trip

Grateful to land a seat on this plane


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