High Holy Days 5784

pile of red apples

September 12, 2023//26 Ellul 5783

Dear Members and Friends of Pardes Hannah:

Warm greetings as we prepare to welcome a new spiritual year. We invite you to be part of our community and to join us in our Second day High Holiday Rosh Hashanah service led by Rabbi Elliot Ginsburg. This year, we will be celebrating the New Year in person at the home of Jody Platt.  We will be surrounded by spacious grounds – the perfect setting for our contemplative practice. We will provide zoom access for those people who cannot join us in person and/or live beyond the greater Ann Arbor area.

Each year the Pardes Hannah community selects a theme to guide us through the Days of Awe. Community members will have opportunity to reflect on this theme and cultivate practices. In addition to the traditional themes of turning and renewal, this year’s theme is “Shivvitti: Keeping the Divine Before Us at All Times,” encouraging us to reflect on moments of spiritual insight, on the teachings and practices that allow us to glimpse the ultimate in things large and the small, to see the divine in another’s face (be it a beloved, a stranger, or even an adversary), and to recalibrate our lives in accord with what really matters.

This High Holiday theme will provide the background and spark for our year-long study, whose title derives from  the book of Job 19:26, Mi-B’sari Ehezeh Eloha: From my flesh—my embodiment—will I see God, subtitled: The Senses as Pathway to the Divine. A description of this theme, in all its richness, follows this letter. 

Pardes Hannah’s services are open to members and non-members alike. Contributions for participation in the service are much appreciated, as are contributions to help support the ongoing work of Pardes Hannah. We ask you to please renew your membership in Pardes Hannah or consider joining for the first time. The cost of membership is $360 per person or $720 per family, payable by check or PayPal (https://pardeshannah.org/contribute/). Adjustments can be made based on need. 

Your membership and donations support Pardes Hannah events: Shabbat morning services, Kabbalat Shabbat, monthly study sessions, Rosh Chodesh celebrations, holiday events, Counting the Omer, and many others. Your generosity goes directly to the costs of our programs, such as Zoom, our website, and most importantly, our rabbi. We have no building and no paid staff – all the work is done by volunteers who give generously of their time to make our events happen. Please support them, our community, and those who cannot contribute but need our community, by giving generously in the spirit of the new year.

As noted, this year Reb Elliot will be teaching on the theme of the senses. And this coming spring will mark 30 years of Pardes Hannah.  Who would have thought we would know such longevity, so many gilgulim, different spiritual life-times! Our small and mighty minyan has seeded and supported many on their Jewish spiritual paths. Please join us in helping to nurture continuing Jewish spiritual life, practice and experimentation both in Southeast Michigan and beyond!

Shanah tovah umetukah, may 5784 be a year of Renewal, of good health, of deep connection and brachah, lifted up by joy and moments of radical amazement.

May we be inscribed for life 
in the coming year. Le-Chayyim!

The Senses as Pathway to the Divine: What happens when we behold the face of a beloved? When we glimpse the divine in a homeless person or in an enemy? What happens as we breathe and feel ourselves being breathed by the divine? Or when we cradle the Torah: what unfolds in that moment of touching and being touched? Over the course of our monthly study sessions, we in Pardes Hannah will explore how the sensorium—as well as our orifices, skin, and neuro-sensory imagination—serve as gateway to and metaphor for spiritual practice, and for the embodied cultivation of joy.

We will draw on an array of select Jewish mystical and midrashic-rabbinic sources, as well as cross- cultural and cross-species example—think: the echolocution of bats, the 360-degree vision of mallard ducks—to spark our religious and sensory imaginations. Each session will engage a particular sense modality: including deep seeing; the spirituality of aroma, olfaction and breath; and kinesthetic practices and ritual gesture, from sacred dance to stillness, from becoming a more enlivened self to melting into the divine. We will also explore those moments where quieting the senses (hashqatah) and dis-identifying from the body may be exactly what’s called for!  In the final session, we will activate the synesthetic imagination, weaving together our senses, potentially leading to a special Shabbat program, in which we experience Shabbat as a day of multi-sensory delight.

This class will combine close text study, alongside freewheeling conversation, niggun, and experimental spiritual practices that both engage and modulate (intensify and quiet) the senses, so that we might, in Job’s words, “encounter the divine from our very flesh,”  מבשרי אחזה אלוה. You are all so invited on this exploratory journey!

Reb Elliot

Note: these study sessions will take place from 3-5 p.m. on the third Shabbat afternoon each month, and will be available in person and on Zoom!

Schedule of Services     

Selichot – Saturday, September 9 – 8:30-10:30 pm

In person: at the home of Rabbi Elliot and Linda

To join online -please register in advance for this service:


Rosh Chodesh Tisherei Circle – Thursday, September 14 – 7:00 pm

To join online please registar in advance .


Rosh Hashanah II Meditation Service – Sunday, September 17 – 10:00 am

In person: at the home of Jody Platt

Kiddush and pot luck vegetarian lunch to follow

RSVP to linda.jo.doctor@gmail.com if coming in person.

To register for online access, use this link:https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMucemorT8uHdZekDZuB-ggfruBD6HVRQh9

Shabbat Morning Service – Shmini Atzeret – Saturday, October 7 – 10:00 am

In person at Beth Israel Annex 2010 Washtenaw Avenue

To join online please register in advance


Rosh Chodesh Chesvaan Circle – Sunday, October 15- 7:00 pm

To join online please register in advance


Study & Practice Session with Reb Elliot – Saturday, October 21- 3-5 pm

In person at the home of R. Elliot and Linda 2924 Baylis Drive

To join online please register in advance


For online participation – once you register you will receive the zoom link to join in.

Please check our calendar at https://pardeshannah.org/calendar-3/ for changes or call Renee Robbins at 734-904-5459.