More for Chanukah

Here are some selections from last year’s Chanukah offerings, now available as slides suitable for screensharing: “My Father’s Menorah” and “Chanukah of Stars” by Rabbi Jennifer Singer, “Second Calendar” by Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz PhD, “Al HaNisim: Future Miracles Unfolding Now” by Rabbi David Evan Markus, “Hanukkah poem #2” by Devon Spier, and “Chanukah of Stars” by Steve Silbert.


These pieces were first shared last year as part of the collaboration Great Miracles Happen Here. (If you would like to read these pieces in print on a PDF, click through to last year’s offering.)

Also don’t miss this year’s brand-new collaborative offering from Bayit, Rolling Darkness Into Light / Chanukah 5782.



This collection features work by R. David Evan Markus, R. Sonja Keren Pilz, Steve Silbert, R. Jennifer Singer, and Devon Spier. Find all of our bios on the Builder Biographies page.

Rolling Darkness Into Light – Chanukah 5782

New from Bayit’s Liturgical Arts Working Group comes this offering for Chanukah 5782. The pandemic has become endemic, and our planet is imperiled. Chanukah comes not to distract us from these realities, but to offer a path through them. Chanukah is about what fuels us even when we feel empty (or maybe especially then). Our liturgy speaks of God Who rolls light out of darkness and darkness out of light. May these prayers, poems, and artworks sustain us as we find the holiness both in today’s darkness and in our turn toward increasing light.

Available both as a printable PDF and as illuminated google slides suitable for screensharing.

Featuring work by Trisha Arlin, R. Rachel Barenblat, R. Dara Lithwick, Joanne Fink, R. David Evan Markus, R. Sonja K. Pilz PhD, and R. David Zaslow.

Download the PDF:

Bayit-Chanukah 5782 [pdf]

Access the illuminated google slides:

Rolling Darkness into Light Slides [google slides]

Here’s a taste of what’s inside:


Shammai taught: the miracle was that the oil lasted
though it dwindled daily. In remembrance
(he said) kindle 8 lights to start, and
remove one each night, ending
with one brave flame
flickering alone

— “Increasing,” R. Rachel Barenblat

Light candles, as one does, but consider this:

Over many millions of years
Organisms evolved
To thrive in the dark…

— “In Praise of the Dark,” Trisha Arlin

Darkness, mother to light,
surrounds, embraces,
nurses the light –
holds each image
in her arms;
lets him be seen…

— “Mother to Light,” R. David Zaslow

A great miracle happened here?
Well, I am not inclined this year
To celebrate divine intervention…

— “Great,” Trisha Arlin

…Just as holy servants of old
whose audacity rededicated their world defiled,
for all eight days
of Hanukkah
may these candles
inspire purification…

— “Lighting Our Way: A New Al Ha-Nisim for a New World,” R. David Markus

A candle is not diminished when it lights
another flame. Hope is not diminished when
it leaps from heart to heart like wildfire…

— “Not Diminished,” R. Rachel Barenblat

I have seen many candles burn,
And many flames gone dark.
Even within each single flame, there is a dark line,
A black, reddish glowing
Reminding me that the brightest flames
Feed off of some sort of darkness…

— “Meditation After Candle Lighting: Setting Our Soul (n’shamah) and Spirit (ru’ach) on Fire,” R. Sonja Keren Pilz PhD

Eight nights of thirty six lights,
As the wind howls through naked trees, bereft of leaves (waiting for the cover glow of snow),
If we’re lucky, the stars glitter and flicker above
An invitation to balance, above and below…

— “On Sparks and Stars, Candles and Connection,” R. Dara Lithwick

The light of you
from a far star years away.
I swear it’s now
but know it was
a light from long ago…

— “The Light of You,” R. David Zaslow


And here is a preview of the slide deck:



Download the PDF:

Bayit-Chanukah 5782 [pdf]

Access the illuminated google slides:

Rolling Darkness into Light Slides [google slides]



This collection features work by Trisha Arlin, R. Rachel Barenblat, R. Dara Lithwick, Joanne Fink, R. David Evan Markus, R. Sonja K. Pilz PhD, and R. David Zaslow. Find all of our bios on the Builder Biographies page.

New prayers, artwork, and poetry for Rosh Hodesh Elul / the New Year of the Animals

Judaism’s ancient New Year for the Animals — Rosh Hodesh Elul — can remind us that we’re all stewards of the Earth and all her life.  It can remind us that we too are animals, part of the web of life.  It can remind us of the special love we feel for companion animals – a heart-opening love we need as we prepare for the heart journey of Rosh Hashanah. Here are poems, prayers, and artwork for Rosh Hodesh Elul / the New Year of the Animals. May these offerings help us to draw near to our animals, our traditions, ourselves, each other, and our Source.

Available both as a downloadable PDF and as google slides suitable for screenshare.

Elul – New Year of the Animals – Bayit 2021 [PDF]

Rosh Hodesh Elul: New Year of the Animals [google slides]


Here are a few tastes of what’s collected here:


…I lay a blanket down on the grass.
We lose ourselves eye to eye,
Reflecting face to face like still waters

Restoring just a bit of something that
Sometimes I forget that I’d forgotten…

— “All Life,” R. David Evan Markus

This is a blessing for my old orange cat, Buster,
On the occasion of Rosh Hodesh Elul,
Rosh Hashanah La Beheimot,
The New Year of the Domesticated Beasts…

— “Blessing for Buster,” Trisha Arlin

We will blow the shofar,
And I’ll read Psalm 27
And if we’re lucky we’ll go for a swim together on Lac St-Pierre…

— “On the first of Elul,” R. Dara Lithwick

…I don’t believe in these separations anymore
whatever we do
we do it to you, too
we live on the same planet
we share the same earth…

— “Where We Walk,” R. Sonja K. Pilz, PhD

God is as close now
as blood pulsing in our veins,
that animal rhythm…

— “We are animals too,” R. Rachel Barenblat

…This Elul may our animal friends teach us to live in balance, honouring the Divine
At home with you, Yah…

— “Closing Blessing,” R. Dara Lithwick

Read the full collection:

Elul – New Year of the Animals – Bayit 2021 [PDF]

Rosh Hodesh Elul: New Year of the Animals [google slides]



Liturgy and poetry by Trisha Arlin, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, Rabbi Dara Lithwick, Rabbi David Evan Markus, Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz.  Artwork by Joanne Fink. Find all of our bios on the Builder Biographies page.

Megillat Covid: Five Offerings for Tisha b’Av

Here are five offerings for Tisha b’Av, each available as its own downloadable PDF. They are intended for both personal and communal use, and can be used singly or all together. Any of them could be read on their own, or as a prelude to Eicha / Lamentations. The final one has been set to Eicha trope.


Crying Out by R’ Rachel Barenblat draws on images from the pandemic and asks the question: who will we be when the pandemic is gone? Here is a brief excerpt (you can read the whole piece in the PDF file below):

Lonely sits the city once great with people —
her subways now empty, her classrooms closed.
Refrigerator trucks await the bodies of the dead
wrapped in sheets of plastic and stacked like logs.
Mourners keep a painful distance, unable to embrace…

Along the Lines of Lamentations by R’ Sonja K. Pilz is similar to a cento (a poem that repurposes lines from another poem), as it consists primarily of quotations from Eicha, re-contextualized by their juxtaposition and by this pandemic season. Here is a brief excerpt (the whole appears in the PDF below):

We were laid waste (2:5).
We were stripped like a garden;
Ended have Shabbat and festivals (2:6).
Our gates have sunk into the ground (2:9).
Elders sit silently;
Women bow their heads to the ground (2:10).
My eyes are spent;
My being melts away (2:11)….

Jeremiahs without a jeremiad by devon spier offers fragmented lines evoking our fragmented hearts in this time of pandemic. About her contribution, devon writes:

To be used to cultivate an embodied COVID megillah reading that honours the fall of Jerusalem and the ebb and flow of our bodies in the months of the Coronavirus and related social distancing. 

To honour that for those of us with pre-existing conditions (our own frail, flimsy, fabulous humanness, our addictions, chronic health issues, years of unfelt griefs suddenly flung to the surface…each of these), we can wrap our whole selves in the scroll of this weeping day. And we can arrive, just as we are.

I would frame this as a kavannah as lines of ketuvim (lines of poetical post-exilic writings) the speaker can read before beginning chanting to set an intention. Or, the lines of this work could also be read throughout the chanting, as the verses I cite appear throughout the first chapter of Eicha. 

‘V’ha-ikar…” and the essence: Pause for the moments you feel the most human. Feel. And insert the words of this piece exactly where you are. From the lines of this intention and a gentle remembrance on this solemn day where we still face ourselves, our ancestors, our communities and each other, in and beyond, always, with hope: “Jerusalem is me is you.”

Here is a brief excerpt (the whole appears in the PDF below):

for those with pages
of unwritten loss
and everything else
they never had
but Are
we are…

Alas by Trisha Arlin evokes the full journey of Eicha, from weeping for the city in distress to remembrance and the promise of change. Here is a brief excerpt (the whole appears in the PDF below):

…Eating, Sleeping, Walking
TV, Facebook, Prayer
Coughing, Crying, Dying

Alas, loneliness!
I am so frightened.
I weep and who will hear me?…

Remember by Rabbi Evan Krame evokes the end of Lamentations, beseeching God to remember us and to let us return. Here is a brief excerpt (the whole appears in the PDF below):

God! Remember what we had? Consider and see our situation!
Our future went to strangers, our houses no refuge.
We are like orphans, without a leader, our mothers worry like widows…

Here also is a recording of R’ Krame’s words sung in Eicha trope, recorded by Rabbi Jennifer Singer.

Together these five offerings make up this year’s “Megillat Covid,” the scroll of our mourning and our search for meaning during these pandemic times. Each is available for download as a PDF file here:

MegillatCovid-Barenblat-CryingOut (PDF)

MegillatCovid-Pilz-AlongTheLines (PDF)

MegillatCovid-Spier-Jeremiahs (PDF)

MegillatCovid-Arlin-Alas (PDF)

MegillatCovid-Krame-Remember (PDF) and audio recording by R’ Jennifer Singer:


And here’s a sketchnote of R’ Krame’s words, created by Steve Silbert:



Rabbi Rachel Barenblat is a founding builder at Bayit and author of several volumes of poetry who blogs as the Velveteen Rabbi.

Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz, PhD is the Editor of the CCAR Press. She taught Worship, Liturgy, and Ritual at HUC-JIR in New York and the School of Jewish Theology at Potsdam University, and authored one book, some articles, and many poems, midrashim, and prayers. Her work has been published in Liturgy, Worship, the CCAR Journal, a number of anthologies, and online.

Devon Spier is a rabbinic student, an author, and a visual poet theologian (proemologian), who both weaves and teaches others to weave their stories through poems, prose and theology of digital images.

Trisha Arlin is a liturgist, performer and student of prayer in Brooklyn, NY.  She is author of Place Yourself: Words of Prayer and Intention

Rabbi Evan Krame is a founding builder at Bayit and co-founder of The Jewish Studio.

Steve Silbert is the Bayit builder behind VisualTorah and Sketchnoting Jewishly.