Light One Candle for Rabbi Regina Jonas z"l

"May all our work be for the blessing of the future of Israel, and of humanity."

— From a Theresienstadt sermon by Rabbi Regina Jonas (1902-1944)

70 years ago, toward the end of 1944, the first woman ever to be ordained rabbi perished in Auschwitz at the age of 42. As a chaplain and educator, she had offered inspiration and solace to many, especially the elderly. Throughout Nazi Germany and in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, she had worked tirelessly to affirm human dignity at the end of life. 
Rabbi Regina Jonas at the Jewish Senior
Home in Rosenberg, Germany (1936)

And for nearly half a century afterward, her legacy was almost entirely forgotten.

I was named for my immigrant great-grandmother Regina Sandler z"l (of blessed memory).  During the summer of 1978, in a book by Rabbi Sally Priesand — the first Jewish woman ordained in the U.S. — I discovered a few brief paragraphs about Rabbi Regina Jonas z"l.  

Across continents and generations, here was a foremother with whom I shared not only my first name, but also my chaplaincy concerns and rabbinical aspirations.  It seemed bashert (Yiddish for "meant to be").

In May 1999 — the same month that an international conference honored Rabbi Jonas in her native Berlin — I invoked her at my own ordination in New York.   I spoke about two Reginas, both of whose legacies I bore, and in whose name I stood.

Today, WAYS OF PEACE Community Resources honors the chaplaincy and education legacy of Rabbi Regina Jonas z"l in all of our services and programs. We foster the dialogue between generations that is essential for learning the lessons of history.
During this Festival of Lights, please light one candle for Rabbi Regina Jonas z"l — and consider a year-end  donation to WAYS OF PEACE.

Hanukkah means "Re/Dedication." May we rededicate ourselves through our celebrations to seek justice, pursue peace, and turn toward each other with greater kindness — now, while we're alive and free; now, while we still remember.

Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips, MSW, MPH

Power Your Giving Tuesday with Generous Justice!

Today is Giving Tuesday, an international campaign to foster greater generosity during the year-end holiday season.

It’s a great day to support Generous Justice, our innovative program of “just giving”: simple, equitable and regular. We’re joining forces and resources to create a culture of greater fairness and fulfillment for all.

Generous Justice leverages donations by inspiring people to give more to a range of worthy causes. Participants join a dialogue across millennia of Jewish prophets, sages, activists and artists to reclaim the practices of just giving — by the numbers! We’re building momentum toward our first retreat-based leadership training in August 2015.

Your donation to WAYS OF PEACE will help Generous Justice to take root in communities near and far — on Giving Tuesday and throughout the coming year.  Read more about how you can support this transformative program.

Support Generous Justice today!

Red Light, Green Light: Ethical Choices at Street Level

Tablet Magazine, 11/12/14

In September 2008 I made a personal decision, a commitment born of soul-searching before the Jewish New Year: I would no longer jaywalk or cross against a red light.

I had been reading reports that traffic deaths in my home city of New York had dropped during the previous year. When I divided the total number of fatalities by 12, it became clear that the reports were viewing “only” 23 traffic deaths per month as evidence of progress.

I probed further and discovered that there had been 10 times as many traffic fatalities in the State of Israel since 1948 as deaths from terrorist attacks. Something was terribly wrong. What could I do about it—immediately and continually? (...) Read more

Remembering the 9/11 "Walk of Bears"

Deep calls to deep, in the voice of Your channels.... (Psalm 42:8)

It's a memory of how we are connected across time and space, through sorrow and hope.

In the NYC disaster relief efforts following September 11th, 2001, one of the sites I served as a chaplain was the Family Assistance Center at Pier 94. At one end of that huge complex, a long open corridor was designated as the “Walk of Bears.” Stuffed bears of all shapes, sizes and colors were arranged along the floor against the wall. Signs explained that they were a gift from the people of Oklahoma City, and were not to be removed.

The shipment of bears had arrived on September 19th. We learned that after the domestic terrorist attack of April 19th, 1995 on the Oklahoma City Federal Building, survivors and disaster relief workers there began to find teddy bears left on the chain-link fence. No one knew who was leaving them, but they kept showing up. Now the people of Oklahoma City had decided that it was time for the people of New York City — and Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, PA — to take comfort in these bears.
Oklahoma City Hope Bears

And posted across the long wall of the NYC Family Assistance Center, above the bears, were the photographs of the missing and the dead. Like the teddy bears, their faces reflected all shapes, sizes and colors — people from all over the world.

Every day, the Walk of Bears would be visited by family members and friends, law enforcement officials, support agency staff and disaster relief workers. People came to write and read messages on the wall, to meditate, to cry, to reflect, to remember, to tell and hear stories…to reach out and care.

The Walk of Bears was a refuge at a time of overwhelming pain. As we move through this anniversary of tragedies that shook our cities, our nation and our world, may we all take refuge in the memories that will help us to reach out and care for each other — day by day, over the long term.

Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips
for WAYS OF PEACE Community Resources

Turning Toward Ways of Peace

"Zion will be redeemed with lawful-judgment,

and those who return to her with tzedakah / just giving." (Isaiah 1:27)

Twenty years ago this month, I returned from a five-year sojourn for social change in Israel. WAYS OF PEACE Community Resources was created out of that experience to focus on the timeless priorities of sustaining the poor, visiting the sick, burying the dead, and consoling the bereaved — "for these are ways of peace" across lines of conflict.

The current Israel / Gaza war has cast a long, painful shadow over this summer, as have other tragedies in the U.S. and throughout the world. And yet the principles and priorities of WAYS OF PEACE are as vital and life-affirming today as they have remained throughout the past two millennia. No matter how heartbreaking the situation, there are always possibilities for sharing our time and money, for bringing people together across differences to affirm our shared humanity.

5775 will be a sabbatical year in the Jewish calendar. Many will be seeking ways to bring the ancient teachings of sh’mitah / release into our lives, through mindful approaches to both ecology and economy. How will you share your abundance to help repair this broken world?

Whether you seek to leverage your financial resources for broader social benefit, or to connect more deeply with community through personal life transitions and public challenges, we hope you will turn toward WAYS OF PEACE and support us during the coming year. All of our combined efforts help pave the paths to peace in our time, and our world needs what you have to offer.

With many blessings for the Season of Turning and beyond,

Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips 
for WAYS OF PEACE Community Resources

Transformative...and Now Deductible!

Butterfly Hands


We are happy to announce that WAYS OF PEACE has received its IRS designation as a 501(c)3 charitable non-profit organization. This means that all donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. We are very grateful to our initial donors for their support in helping us to reach this point.


This brings us to the next level of Nedivut Tzedek / GENEROUS JUSTICE, our new network of innovative learning circles for social change through "spiritual finance." GENEROUS JUSTICE offers authentic, time-tested resources and support for bringing our money into harmony with our highest values — no matter what we earn. Learn more!


Whether or not you are in a position to make a donation toward any of our projects at this time, we encourage you to take the opportunity for a mid-year review of your personal and family giving.


Jewish tradition defines generous and just giving in terms of percentages — not absolute numbers. What percentage of your income have you donated so far in 2014? What percentage did you donate in 2013? Would you like to be more empowered in your choices when you open your wallet or check your account balance? You're not alone!


Setting aside an incremental percentage throughout the year makes for more satisfying and strategic donations, instead of the usual last-minute rush to disburse whatever is left over in December. All of this is part of the GENEROUS JUSTICE process of learning together, building community while fostering respect for each individual participant.


If you would like to make a special tax-deductible contribution to help launch the GENEROUS JUSTICE project, please specify this when making an online donation or writing a check.


In other news, it's not too late to register for Three Legs or One Foot: Rebalancing Our Jewish Communities, a retreat-based exploration of best practices in Jewish and interfaith caring development. This program is part of the National Havurah Committee Summer Institute that will take place August 4-10 in scenic Rindge, New Hampshire. Learn more!


And if you would like to bring these or any other WAYS OF PEACE programs to your community, we'd love to hear from you.


With many blessings for "Interdependence Day" and beyond,


Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips 


First Fruits, Revelation and Renewal

Money and Creation


This is a time of spiritual preparation in our Jewish calendar, when we traditionally “number our days” from the Festival of Freedom until Shavu'ot: the Festival of First Fruits and Revelation.  


As we emerge slowly into longer daylight and sunnier weather, you are warmly invited to join us for one or more of our upcoming events — the “first fruits” of this year's group programs offered by WAYS OF PEACE:




Who's Robbing God, and What Can We Do About It?

A Taste of "Generous Justice"


Tuesday, June 3rd at 10:30 pm in Brooklyn, NY / Free and open to all


This session is part of the all-night Shavu'ot Across Brooklyn, and will introduce Nedivut Tzedek / Generous Justice (see below).  Find out what happens when Occupy Wall Street and Move Your Money meet a potent gathering of prophets and rabbis — and come prepared for surprises!  Learn more



And When I Die: The Musical!

      A Funeral Planning Cabaret


Sunday, June 8th at 7:00 pm in Brooklyn, NY / Free and open to all


This unique seminar-in-song offers a non-sectarian introduction to advance directives, funeral consumer choices and your next steps.  Learn more



Three Legs or One Foot:

Rebalancing Our Jewish Communities     


Monday, August 4th through Sunday, August 10th in Rindge, NH

Registration now open


A retreat-based exploration of best practices in Jewish and interfaith caring community development.  Practical, accessible applications of Jewish values and experience to help to restore caring as an integration of kindness and justice.  Learn more



Nedivut Tzedek / Generous Justice

A New Jewish Peer Support Network for Just Giving


WAYS OF PEACE has received an Innovation Fund grant to launch a new network of Jewish generosity circles.  Nedivut Tzedek / Generous Justice is an initiative to renew our Jewish culture of “spiritual finance” as rooted in the flow and circulation of wealth.  It offers authentic, time-tested resources and support for bringing our money into harmony with our highest values — no matter what we earn.  Learn more


With many blessings for the Season of Revelation and beyond,




Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips