Why the name "Holy Sparks!"? Why not minyan, community, congregation, or chavurah?
More customary names, such as chavurah, minyan, community, congregation, all sound more formal, larger, and more traditional.
Minyan not only indicates at least 10 adults, which we may or may not have at any given gathering, it also indicates a tradition of a very specific set of prayers from the siddur. Most minyans are associated with a specific synagogue/shul. We are not.
The words community and congregation both indicate a larger, more formal, more organized, and usually denominationally-affiliated group. They also convey “synagogue-esque." We are not.
While chavurah is a great term, meaning a circle of friends, the term has run its course and is usually linked to the Jewish counter-cultural movement of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Usually associated with a small group who meets in someone’s home to do potlucks and alternative kinds of prayer. All of that is good, and we sometimes do, and we are definitely a circle of friends. But it seems a bit limiting and defined by the connotations associated with it. We are far more than a circle of friends who "do Jewish things" together. We are more.
If you are at all in tune with the new, liberal, progressive, grassroots emergent forms of "doing Jewish" that are popping up across the country, you will notice that these new groups do not use common, customary, or frequently used monikers that were used in the past. Because, we are not "business as usual." We are not doing "synagogue lite." We are more...
We are more open, more casual. We are "doing Jew-ish" differently. We are informal, exciting, and we leave our gatherings feeling more inspired and re-sparked than when we arrived! We are independent and denominationally- and movement-unaffiliated, leaving us free to work within our own frame. The Hebrew word for, well, Hebrew, is Ivrit. It means "Boundary Crossers" We ARE that!
The philosopher Martin Buber wrote, “When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, G!d is the electricity that surges between them.” We are those holy sparks! We are the electricity that happens between people connecting in deep and meaningful ways, and the holiness and sparking that can happen when fully engaging from the heart and soul in the words of prayer and study and discussion.
If you've read the book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame), (and really, if you haven't read it, you simply must!), then you will understand that life is made of Big Magic moments. Being Holy Sparks! is part of catching the flame of creative spirituality beyond fear and boundaries.
Holy Sparks! is built on the idea that we live in a transformative moment in time, wherein a new paradigm for spiritual life is being explored. We transcend the limitations of customary synagogues and congregations, expanding our consciousness and fostering interconnections from a much broader, far deeper perspective.
Isn't it time you joined us on our Big Magic Big Jew-ish Adventure?
What if I don't believe in G!d?
The first thing we can tell you with certainty is that the G!d you don’t believe in, we don’t believe in either. Many people think Judaism is off limits if the G!d thing is “not for me.” So let’s talk about that for a minute…
We think “believing in G!d” and having a meaningful spiritual connection are two different things. Take love, for example. If you had to “believe in” or completely understand love before loving anyone, wouldn’t that be terribly complicated? Or, for those of us who are not electrical engineers, if you had to fully understand electricity before plugging in your phone to recharge it, would it ever get recharged?
Rather than asking, “Do I believe in G!d?” perhaps a better question to ask yourself is, “Do I want to be a better person, and will making a spiritual connection possibly help me do that?” If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place.
Even if the answer is no, we still welcome you.
And by the way, some of the most notable Jews in history were not entirely on board with the notion of G!d.
What if I'm not Jewish? What if my boyfriend/girlfriend/mother/aunt/spouse isn't Jewish?
We choose to not get hung up on who is and is not Jewish. Will you make a spiritual connection or a people connection here? Come and find out!
If you are Jewish, Jew-ish, Jew-friendly, or Jew-curious, you’ve come to the right place. There is no need for prior Jewish education, Hebrew, knowledge of Judaism… you don’t even have to be Jewish! If you are open to learning from this perspective, we’d love to have you join us.
Okay, all that sounds good so far, but what if I'm not really the praying type?
Some of us aren’t “the praying type” either. Some people don’t like praying at all. If that’s you, you are still welcome. Sit in the back, think deep––or not so deep––thoughts, have some coffee, get to know us afterwards. Being in the room is the first step towards being a part of the community, and being part of the community is the biggest part of making a G!d connection.
Merle Feld, author of A Spiritual Life, writes that, “A prayer is the articulation of something very particular at the core of one’s being, flung out into the universe. Perhaps it finds a mark, perhaps not. The essential thing is the articulation and the flinging.”
So come. Articulate. Fling. Let’s start the conversation about what prayer is, what spirituality is, what G!d might be, who we might become. Let's engage in the discussion. There are no right answers and no wrong questions! There will be no quiz and no grades, and you don't have to share if you'd rather not.
And if you want to find out more about praying, making a connection, thinking about this notion of G!d, or about being Jewish/Jew-ish/Jew-friendly/Jew-curious, talk to our Rabbi. Those kinds of questions really make her day!
In fact, Rabbi Morgan’s passion is helping people of all backgrounds and interests enhance their lives with a contemporary approach to spirituality, and Judaism, too. She is an independent Modern Rabbi, serving individuals rather than a synagogue. She believes the future belongs to emergent, grassroots, pop up ventures, in all arenas of life.
Holy Sparks! is part of that vibrant, interconnected future! Come and be part of it!
What's the catch?
There is no catch, but we do have a few requests:
During our service, please turn off your phones. We have it on good authority that G!d rarely tweets or instagrams. Also, no pictures, please.
This is not the place to debate the Holocaust, Israel, or to argue against or have a hateful attitude towards others. We gather in peace, love, and our common humanity, and if you're okay with that, we're okay with you.
Why do I keep seeing "G!d"? Why the exclamation mark? Is this some Aboriginal language you are using?
It is a common Jewish custom to write the English word “God” as G‑d or even L‑rd, replacing vowels with a hyphen, “-.” This is done out of a sense of respect for an unpronounceable name, and the command not to take G!d's name in vain. It is also an acknowledgement that the English word “God” has been trivialized in our society, even being reduced to an oft-used acronym of “OMG.” We even hear people say, “Oh Em Gee;” so, it has been further reduced to three meaningless syllables.
For us, the G!d who can be reduced to an acronym is not on the same level as the notion of G!d who urges us to become our best selves.
So we write the word with an exclamation mark in the center, as “G!d.” To us, the hyphen in the center of the word also detracts from G!d, like a math symbol for minus or negative. For us, G!d is not a minus or a negative. The exclamation mark in the center indicates a notion of G!d, not as a noun, but as an active verb filled with pregnant potential, a process indicating movement and change, both finite and infinite. Even in math, the exclamation symbol is an expression of factorials, not a negative. A factorial moves the numeral beyond a static digit.
Therefore, an exclamation mark more adequately expresses this, as well as conveying a sense of awe, reverence, and even exuberance for life. Who doesn't get excited when we see exclamation marks at the end of a sentence?! See?!
And a note about the pronunciation... We still pronounce G!d the same way those who write “God” or even “G-d” pronounce it. The exclamation mark serves as a visual reminder that this notion of G!d can be exciting, going beyond a static, small, one-size-fits-all, limited-to-three-letters idea.
What do you mean by spiritual and spirituality?
Spirituality is experienced differently by individual people. These are some words that we associate with spirituality:
• meaningful • purposeful • awareness • values • experience of awe • healing • soul • love • alive • integrity • G!d • Divine • energy • depth • interconnected • lifeforce • clarity • journey • discernment • sacred • mysterious • the unknown • potential • mindful • presence • open-hearted • transformation • unfolding • joyful •
A spiritual experience can be down-to-earth, and it can be mysterious; a moment of awe or transcendence, as well as an engaging discussion between people.
Spiritual practice, on the other hand, is more intentional, with the purpose of cultivating heart/mind/awareness states, and bringing the inner life and the outside world into greater alignment, to blur the distinction between the inner and the outer, the Self and the Other.
Spiritual practice is not only meditation, mindfulness, and prayer. There are as many spiritual practices as there are people to imagine them. Let's explore and discuss them together!