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Spring and New Beginnings

Winter Sunset, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Julie Danan

Winter Sunset, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Julie Danan

Shalom! Like the dormancy of winter, this site has been quiet for a while. The quiet of the site is the mirror opposite of my busy life: leading a small congregation, teaching two classes for the ALEPH Rabbinic Program, traveling (to Israel, Colorado, and Florida in the past 3 months) and being involved with my family. It’s all wonderful and gratifying, but hasn’t left any time to work on this website (or on the book that I am slowly building from the site). However, with the awakening of spring, I have recently begun a new Gateway that I hope to launch soon, on the theme of “Holy Land,” to be accessed through the Portal of Earth. You can get a sneak peak at the type of content I plan to share there but checking out this post on my Rabbi’s Blog, Finding a Sanctuary in Nature.” 

Meanwhile, please keep in touch by following me @Wellsprings on Instagram, where I post daily original nature photography, often with accompanying spiritual reflections. Much of this content, along with other environmentally oriented posts, can also be found on the Wellsprings of Wisdom Facebook page.

And please continue to enjoy exploring the 14 Gateways (content pages) already on this site. Each Gateway explores an ancient symbol from Nature as a path to personal growth and action. In addition, three Resource Guides will help you continue your explorations of Jewish spirituality in nature.

Trip to Israel, New Gallery posted


Jerusalem View from Haas Promenade, JHD


In December, my husband and I (and two of our grown children) visited Israel for the first time in nearly a decade. I’ll continue reflecting on this journey and our experiences in my Rabbi’s Blog. Please check it out if you would like to learn more. Meannwhile, I’ve added a Gallery of Seashore in Israel to the Gateway of the Sea. In Israel, I exchanged wintry walks at  the woods of the Hudson Valley for sunny walks on the shores of the Mediterranean. The sea enraptured me with it’s light, color, and warmth. The rhythm of the waves and the sea air filled me with a sense of peace/Shalom and well-being. I hope that my photos will share those feelings with you.

For daily nature photography interspersed with some spiritual reflections, please follow Wellsprings on Instagram.

Wellsprings, the Book?

Moon over Bear Mountain, JHD

Shalom! Just checking in to let you know that this site is active, even if it’s not like a blog with continual updates. I haven’t added a new Gateway (themed content page) to Wellsprings of Wisdom this fall, but I’m continuing to add some new posts to current Gateways, update existing posts,and add to the resource guide. I also post daily content (my own nature photos and some inspirational messages) on Instagram @wellsprings. I hope to continue to add content to Wellsprings of Wisdom over time, but I’m turning much of my creative attention–when not working at my job as a rabbi or teaching classes or being busy as a mom and grandma!–to writing a nature-centered spiritual memoir on the same themes as Wellsprings of Wisdom.

I recently attended a workshop by the Jewish Book Council and that gave me a lot of encouragement. I wrote one book years ago, then went off to graduate school and rabbinical school and wrote a dissertation. Since then, the publishing world has changed so it’s good to get a refresher! Thanks for your patience, and I hope you enjoy the existing content. Feel free to write to me through the website if you have any questions. Your comments on any posts and your posts in the Sharing Circles in each Gateway are much appreciated, and I’m looking into different ways to get together by offering classes online. Let me know if that interests you.

Happy Thanksgiving! Autumn Gallery Added


Autumn at Rockefeller State Park Preserve, JHD

Happy Thanksgiving! This is a wonderful time to cultivate gratitude. One thing I’m grateful for, since moving the Hudson Valley from California (and Texas before), is the amazing fall foliage in this part of the country. In honor of the season, I’ve added a new Autumn Gallery to the Gateway of Seasons. I hope you enjoy it.

I know that I’ve being growing as a photographer since my “Seasonal Scenes” gallery, and it’s developed into a real hobby. I also purchased an second hand camera (to upgrade from phone photos alone) and took a photography class.

I try to use my photography for mitzvot (good deeds), for example my current fundraiser of greeting cards and tote bags with my photos from Chico, California, all profits going to NorCal Wildfire Relief.

Expanded Resource Guide


Upper Bidwell Park, Chico, California, 2018, JHD

Thanks to a reader/fellow traveler who wrote to me with several suggestions for the Resource Guide, it continues to expand. I’ve recently added more programs for hiking, family retreats, organic farms and summer camps that focus on Jewish spirituality in nature.  Locations span the United States, Canada Mexico, England, and Israel. I present these as a public service and listing does no imply endorsement, so please check them out for yourself!


Wellsprings Fundraiser for Northern California

Great Blue Heron, Chico, CA, JHDIt’s been a very hard couple of weeks. First, the tragic antisemitic killings at Tree of Life- Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh shocked and saddened the Jewish community and all of America. People of many faiths came together together in prayer and support around the country.  Read my rabbi blog to read the messages that I shared with our community. For those who want to give tzedakah/charity to support the Pittsburgh Jewish community, you can do so here.

Then less than two weeks later, devastating wildfires ravaged parts of California, with the most destructive fire in California history decimating Paradise, California, the nearest town to our former home of Chico. Watching these tragic events from afar, I wanted to give back in some way.

To help the community in Northern California, I have started a Wellsprings Fundraiser for Fire Relief. I’ve made my nature photos from a recent trip to Chico into greeting cards and tote bags, that you can purchase here.

All profits benefit the Northern California Fire Relief Fund of the North Valley Community Foundation.  Feel free to donate directly there, too! And please keep everyone in your prayers.


Update to Rosh Hodesh Post

Just updated the pathway (post) about Rosh Hodesh, the women’s celebration of the New Moon. I rTonight’s New Moon, John Flannery, via Flickrealized that most of my suggested resources were rather “vintage,” from the heyday of women’s rediscovering this holiday in the 1970’s and 80’s. Now there’s a great new organization, At the Welloffering beautiful materials online to support women and others who want to form Well Circles and celebrate this ancient holy day to promote both spirituality and wellness.

I’m constantly delighted to find wonderful initiatives among the younger generation in Judaism, nature and the outdoors. Today I had a wonderful conversation with Julia Plevin, founder of the Forest Bathing Club of San Francisco. (The “bathing” reference is to the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, “Forest Bathing,” therapeutic immersion in nature.) Founding the popular club and getting involved in nature-based spirituality has been a catalyst to Jewish self-discovery for Julia, who has participated in San Francisco-based Wilderness Torah.

New Sukkot Guest Post


Lulav and Etrog, JHD

Right in the middle of all the Jewish Fall Holidays…it’s a new post! Rabbi David Seidenberg recently shared a very thoughtful post about the “Four Species (palm branch, willows, myrtles, and citron/etrog) that are waved as a Sukkot Ritual, explaining the ecological symbolism. He was kind enough to share it with Wellsprings of Wisdom, and you can find it here, in the Gateway of Wilderness, along with another post about the holiday of Sukkot being celebrated this week. Chag Sameach, Happy Sukkot!

Post holiday update: Another friend, Shir Yaakov Feit, posted a beautiful picture of a lulav and etrog in a natural setting, so I have incorporated that into the post as well.

New Gallery of Meadow Photos for Elul

Pampas Grass, JHD

Even with Rosh Hashanah on the horizon, I have posted some photos that I took on recent nature walks in preparation for the New Year. You will find them in this new Gallery in the Gateway of Gardens, along with an explanation of the Hassidic teaching that in Elul (the late summer month before the New Year) “the King is in the Field.”

Hearing the crickets and cicadas, seeing the drying flowers and hints of fall foliage, feeling the texture of the air at late summer, all these connect me to the change of season and the Divine Presence that pervades all things. May I suggest that you take some time in these waning days of Elul to go outside and seek your inspiration for the new year?

Big Chico Creek