Gallery: As Above, So Below

I am captivated by the reflections of sky in a lake,* especially when sky and water seem to merge. On a spiritual level, it reminds me that in each of our souls is a reflection of the divine, the tzelem Elohim. We can perceive the reflection of what is “above” most easily when our consciousness is calm and clear, a state nurtured by regular prayer, meditation, and spiritual practice.

Enjoy these lake reflections from Wellspring on Instagram. (Plus one from a friend who is a Pastor in California.) Sometimes it’s hard to tell water from sky! I suggested pausing to contemplate each picture for a few moments of “reflection.”

Learn how Torah can be like Coral.

*I’m including lakes in this Gateway of the Sea, because in biblical Hebrew a “sea” can also mean a freshwater lake.

Inspiration at a Thornbush

Moses’ first encounter with the Divine in the wilderness is at bush that burns but is not consumed. According to the Midrash, the choice of a “lowly thornbush” is God’s way of showing that the Shechinah, the Divine Presence can be found anywhere (Exodus Rabbah 2:5) I take this as a message to be more aware and attentive to the divine inspiration that can be found in “ordinary” and humble things, perhaps even in life’s thorns and thickets. These bare winter thornbushes I photographed (at Rockefeller State Park Preserve, except picture 5 and 14 in town, and 12 on a trip to Colorado), inspired me with their beauty and with the amazing connections and patterns that emerge amidst their brambles and tangles.

Learn about my mother’s spiritual journey, or return to the Gateway of Wilderness.

Gallery: Famous Fruit Trees of Israel

The five famous fruit trees of the Holy Land are noted along with two grains as the “Seven Species” (Shivat Haminim, (Deuteronomy 8:8). Embrace their bounty in artwork, Sukkah and home decorations, and foods for Jewish celebrations, especially Tu Bishvat (New Year of Trees). In California, my husband Avraham planted all five in our garden.


Proceed to Torah study about trees, or return to the Gateway of Trees.

The King is In the Field: A Meadow Gallery

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi taught a parable of a king on the way to the palace, who can be approached by everyone in the countryside with ease. His expression, “the King is in the field,” characterized the late summer month of Elul prior to the New Year, as a time when it is easier to access our connection to the divine within. Contemporary Torah teacher Gavriel Strauss, suggests that at this time of year we literally go out in nature, to a meadow or field, as a wonderful way to feel that spiritual closeness. Click on the featured photo above to activate the gallery, a photo series scenes at Otter Creek Preserve, Mamaroneck, and Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Pleasantville, New York (the second Egret in Fairfield, Connecticut). Photos by Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan.

Gallery: A Synagogue Farm in the Suburbs

Congregation Sons of Israel in Briarcliff Manor, New York, founded the CSI Community Organic Farm on 1.5 acres at the back of the synagogue’s property. The farm offers communal gardening, a farmer’s market, and donations to the needy. Chickens are raised and their eggs are sold at the farmer’s market. The farm promotes Jewish traditions and values in areas such as ecology, agriculture, nutrition, wellness, spiritual connection, social and environmental justice. Check back for more photos as they grow!

Please share in the comments if you know of a synagogue farm or communal garden.  (Return to the Gateway of Gardens.)