Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope
Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope

Spiritual Wisdom from Earth and Torah

Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope
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by Mirele B. Goldsmith The reality of climate change and other environmental problems weigh on me all year long. But as Yom Kippur approaches my thoughts turn more and more to my own responsibility. During this past year did I do enough? Was I effective in what I did? And most troubling of all, did I make the right choices about where to invest my efforts? An answer to this question came to me this summer when I participated in the Green Attica Conference. The conference was convened by Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, who is known as the “Green Patriarch” for his commitment to environmental protection. The participants were clergy, scientists, politicians, teachers, business leaders, and activists. Each one inspired me; Kalliope Stara, a graduate student who is leading a campaign against fracking in Greece; Christiana Figueres, who led the process that culminated in the Paris Agreement on climate change; Maude Barlow, who has championed the human right to water; and many others. Photo credit: Sean Hawkey/WCC Reflecting on the experience of meeting so many wonderful people, each one working to protect creation in their own way, I found the answer to my question. Each of us has a unique contribution to make in the effort to protect the earth and its inhabitants and all of these contributions are essential. There are many “right choices.” As Ben Zoma teaches, “Who is wise? The one who learns from everyone.” (Avot 4:1) As the new year begins, I have resolved to keep learning from those around me about the many ways there are to repair our world. I will stop worrying about whether I am doing the right thing, and instead focus on doing more of what I can do best. Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith is an environmental psychologist, educator, and activist. Mirele founded Jews Against Hydrofracking, directed the Jewish Greening Fellowship, and was a leader in the People’s Climate March and Jewish Climate Action Network-NYC. Mirele’s writing has been published by the Jewish Week, Forward, Shma, and Huffington Post. 
Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope
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by Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum Once upon a time I had a garden. I must have been inspired by reading The Good Earth to plunge a spade into the unyielding, aptly named, Rockland soil. But, after moving rocks, boulders and many less natural obstacles, I protected the small plot and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts and 5 slender corn seedlings. As the spring turned to summer and blossoms turned to the beginnings of identifiable vegetables, I realized that I was going to share the bounty with a pudgy and persistent woodchuck, some opportunistic rabbits, ravening squirrels and brazen crows. This was the year before the deer. One day, in the breezy part of the afternoon, as the old story goes, I was working in the garden, trying to replace the cucumber’s chewed-off leaves with paper plates so the little plants wouldn’t die of sunstroke. I jumped to hear a shush-shush behind me. A snake? An intrepid rabbit? I turned in every direction but saw nothing. The sound came again! I turned to face the corn stalks, now healthy and about 4 feet tall. Again the sound, but this time I saw its source: the corn was growing before my eyes, calling attention to its progress with the merest of sighs! Corn talks. The other vegetables remained silent, but the cucumbers definitely responded to my efforts to save them. I’m not a very good gardener, but I am tenderhearted. I was moved by the quiet conversation. Nature responded tentatively to even my poor ministrations. How much the more would it respond to careful treatment? How much of a difference could be made by finding and supporting environmental organizations that really knew what they were doing and that inspired many individuals to join in the effort to care for gardens, forests, mountains, streams, the sky and the air! I’d like to say that my thoughts led to action and that I spend my days and nights working to protect and improve the planet. No, I’m not an outdoors activist. I don’t even have a garden any more. But I listen more carefully to the natural world, give what I can give, conserve what I can, try to act responsibly and tread a bit more gently on this earth. My ears are attuned to environmentalists although their voices don’t whisper like the corn. My words bring their words to others in an encouraging way, I hope. My gratitude, like that of my long-ago cucumbers, is for those who work to save this earth and who inspire others to do what they can, too. And when the season turns to the end of garden harvesting and the New Year approaches, I remember the shush-shush of the corn, doing its best to grow in a difficult place. And I pray to be as determined as those stalks and as responsive as the cucumbers. Peg Kershenbaum was ordained in 2008 by the Academy for Jewish Religion. She serves a small congregation of very dear people in Pocono Pines, PA.
Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope
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by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen For many years I collected feathers. Walking along the trails, near my home or far away, whenever I spotted a feather, I brought it home. Together with rocks, shells, bits of wood, and other nature memorabilia, they helped to create a sense of the outdoors inside. The feathers meant a lot to me. Then one day, while trying to identify a feather my granddaughter had found, I stumbled inadvertantly across a government website with information about feathers. I learned that it is illegal in the United States to collect feathers. The reason for this law regarding all feathers is to protect migratory and endangered birds from being killed in order to collect and sell their feathers. I was devastated. All these years, I'd been breaking the law. Suddenly my collection of feathers became more complicated. My grandchildren love those feathers, but I explained to them what I had learned. My granddaughter, aged 6, suggested that maybe we could keep just a few. For months I struggled with what to do. And I stopped picking up feathers. I still saw them, but I left them beside the trail. At first it was painful to leave them behind. I felt deprived. But over time, as a plan of what to do developed in my mind, it became easier to just notice the feathers and leave them be. And instead of picking them up, I took a picture to take home with me. This summer, I took my grandchildren and the feathers to one of my favorite trails near my home. I let them each pick out three or four of their favorites to keep. The remainder we returned to their home, the natural world. We made sure to hide them, so someone else wouldn't pick them up. That trail now holds a special magic for me, for I know that treasures are hidden out of site along the way. It gives extra meaning to walking there. And in the meantime, I stopped photographing the feathers. They are now just something ephemeral for me to hold in my mind's eye for as long as they will remain. They are one more gift from the sacred space of the more-than-human world. They are a prayer, a connection, an unspoken message for me to carry in my heart. T'shuvah has happened. Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, and the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network. She is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit, and is a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005 and lives in Wayland, MA, with her spouse, Gabi Mezger, who leads the singing at Ma'yan Tikvah.

Divrei Earth

The above are examples of Divrei Earth - spiritual wisdom from Earth and Torah, in the blog written by Rabbi Katy Allen and members and friends of Ma'yan Tikvah. 


Divrei Earth - literally words of Earth, provide reflections on the weekly Torah portion, as well as Earth Etudes for Elul, reflections in preparation for the New Year during the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah, and Counting the Omer, reflections on Earth and Torah from Passover to Shavuot.


CLICK HERE to view the blog, where you can subscribe to receive the posts via email.



Ma'yan Tikvah Makes the Globe!

Thank you to Lisa Wangsness at The Boston Globe for the fantastic article about Ma'yan Tikvah! Check it out here.


Help Protect and Save the Earth - 13 Tips

CLICK HERE to find 13 environmental tips with accompanying texts and commentary by Rabbi Katy Allen.


Watch at Eden Keeper

Webinar : A Transformation from Environamental Grief to Environmental Action


Watch Eden Keeper Webinar, "A Transformation from Environmental Grief to Environmental Action." During this half-hour video, Director Robin Purchia hosts Rabbi Katy and the two discuss grief, the management of feelings of loss, and how to tranform our dark inner places into joy and a spiritual connection to the environment. 


Link to YouTube Webinar


Link to Eden Keeper Website


Some Spiritual Tips

Are you feeling a bit blue? Wondering about meaning? Despairing about the state of the world? Here are a few suggestions to help yourself get re-grounded spiritually.


  • Find a spot outdoors where you can focus on the natural world. Even in the city, you can always look up at the sky. Pay attention to what you see. Let it speak to you. Let the image, sound, or smell enter deep into your being.
  • Draw a picture. It doesn't matter if you "know how to draw" or not. Simply focus on something meaningful to you and record something of what you see, in either an abstract form or something more representative.
  • Think back to a moment in nature from your childhood or youth. Record your memory in words or images.
  • Sit still in a quiet place. Breathe deeply. Image yourself enveloped in love and mercy, beneath the wings of the Shechinah, the Divine Presence.
  • Find a passage from a sacred text, in the broadest sense of the word, Torah or other Jewish texts, your favorite children's book, a poem, or whatever strikes you. Connect it to your experience in nature or your drawing or writing. Think about how the two enrich each other.
  • Call a friend to ask how he or she is doing.

Upcoming Events 


Outdoor Services and Other Events


Sat., Aug 18, 10:00 AM

Garden Shabbat & Lunch

73 W. Central St. Natick


Apple-Picking Shabbat

Sat, Aug., 25

10:00 AM

Heard Cons. Area, Wayland


Rosh HaShanah 

Mon, Sept 10 9:30 AM

Cedar Hill Camp




Rosh HaShanah Dinner 

Mon, Sept 10 6:30 PM



Kol Nidre 

Tue, Sept 18 6:45 PM

Cong. Church of Weston


Yom Kippur 

Wed, Sept 19 9:30 AM

Camp Chickami



Neilah &   Break-fast

Wed, Sept 19 6:00 PM
(Rain, start 6:30 PM)

Common Street Spiritual Center & Coolidge Hill




Where to Find Us


Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope

237 Old Connecticut Path
Wayland, MA 01778

Phone: 1 508.358.5996




Blog: www.mayantikvah.

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Affiliated with the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts






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© Katy Z. Allen 2012