Rededication, Light, and Hope


Hanukkah means Dedication or Rededication. Centuries before our candle-lighting practices were standardized, one school of Jewish sages would kindle eight lights on the first night of the holiday, and decrease to one by the final night.

This approach may more directly evoke the miracle we still celebrate — not the amount of available fuel, but the rededication to hope against all odds. Even a single candle can spread great hope with its light.

And as our sages also taught, "Even as each small metal-scale joins into a great armor-plate, so with just-giving each and every coin joins into a great account." Simple, incremental sharing of our abundance keeps the hope shining.

As you dedicate your end-of-year giving, please consider a donation to WAYS OF PEACE. We recently reached our 3rd anniversary of fostering peaceful coexistence through spiritual support, community learning, personal guidance, and innovative resources — bringing light to the darkness of even the most difficult life challenges.JEWISH-SYMBOL-ISTOCK

In 2015 our work was again highlighted in Tablet Magazine and The Forward. Our workshops and retreats were well-received across the country. Between publications and programs, we continued to support individuals and families through crucial transitions in their lives.

We welcome your support of our efforts. And if you’d like to bring WAYS OF PEACE to your community in the year to come, we'd love to hear from you.

WAYS OF PEACE donates at least 10 percent of net staff compensation to other organizations that uphold our core mandates of promoting justice and kindness across lines of diversity.

TODAY: From Thanksgiving to Just-Giving

Today is Giving Tuesday — an international campaign to promote greater generosity during the end-of-year holiday season. It shifts the focus from conventional consumer spending to how we can share more of the abundance that Thanksgiving celebrates.

Of course, like eating and sleeping, giving is not a one-day event. Every time we open our wallets or check our bank balances, we face choices about how to share our money. That's why WAYS OF PEACE works to reclaim the culture of just-giving  throughout the year: simple, equitable, and regular.*

In 2015 we launched Generous Justice, our new network of learning circles for just-giving. Personal money choices have the power to save lives — and now a multi-generational cohort of change-makers is bringing the principles of just-giving to their home communities, from coast to coast in the U.S. and Canada.

GenJustLogo01_5Line_rgbGenerous 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 support each other in putting more of our money where our mouths, hearts and minds are. The financial pie can be divided more equitably at the grassroots, as just-giving becomes an everyday way of life.

Your donation to WAYS OF PEACE will help Generous Justice continue to take root in communities near and far — on Giving Tuesday and throughout the coming year. Read more about this transformative program, and about our other programs and services.

Support WAYS OF PEACE Today!

* WAYS OF PEACE donates at least 10 percent of net staff compensation to other organizations that uphold our core mandates of promoting justice and kindness across lines of diversity.

Hope: A Different Kind of Marathon

All Hands InEvery year, a world event passes the corner of my block in Brooklyn. For more than a decade and a half, I've been able to watch the NYC Marathon as it streams up Fourth Avenue, along with my neighbors and others who gather to cheer on the runners. People costumed as bananas hand out fruit and snacks; flags and placards wave; children scamper back and forth.

By the time most of the runners pass my block, the "winners" of the citywide race have been already been announced. But the rest of the marathoners keep going, sometimes simply walking, cheered on by the crowds — all in agreement that it is vital to keep taking steps toward a challenging and worthy goal.

Like many of the other organizations we support, WAYS OF PEACE is engaged in a different kind of marathon. It's one of continued small, steady steps away from despair and toward hope. As in any marathon, music can help move us forward.Butterfly Hands

Twenty years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z"l was assassinated. In Rabin's breast pocket were the lyrics of Shir LaShalom, an anthem written in 1969 by two young Israeli soldiers.

As we rededicate ourselves to hope on this 20th anniversary, WAYS OF PEACE is offering a singable English translation of Shir LaShalom, originally written to commemorate the first anniversary of Rabin's death. LEARN MORE

WAYS OF PEACE continues to pioneer a new model of social entrepreneurship through our own just-giving,* and we welcome your support of our marathon.

With many blessings of hope for the seasons ahead,

Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips
for WAYS OF PEACE Community Resources

* WAYS OF PEACE donates at least 10 percent of net staff compensation to other organizations that uphold our core mandates of promoting justice and kindness across lines of diversity.

From Brooklyn to Cairo — "For These Are Ways of Peace"

In 2005 I compiled a manual for the hevra kadisha (sacred burial fellowship) that I had recently organized at Park Slope Jewish Center in Brooklyn, NY. Ten years later, this resource has guided sacred fellowship development in many varied communities beyond Brooklyn. A recent article by Seth Wikas in the Forward describes how even the coexistence of Jews, Christians and Muslims in Egypt has been supported by our manual:

Anya Ulinich
Anya Ulinich / The Forward

"Have you ever prepared a Jewish body for burial?”.... With that call I became [head of] Cairo’s chevra kadisha, after quickly Googling “chevra kadisha” and finding the Park Slope Jewish Center’s guide. (...)       READ MORE

Burying the dead is one of the core rabbinic priorities in cities of diversity, "for these are ways of peace." Today WAYS OF PEACE continues to create and share vital related resources, including the ones below.

Things That Come Back To Life (Tablet Magazine)

“What is your position on zombies?”

It’s not something I’m usually asked as a rabbi, especially in the middle of a meal. Adam was approaching bar mitzvah at the time, and his parents had invited me to stay for dinner after one of our study sessions.

‘Tis the season for discussions of how kosher it is for Jews to celebrate Halloween. But the fascination with “the undead” isn’t limited by the calendar; it’s ongoing, particularly for young people, and it provides opportunities for dialogue between generations on issues that go beyond costumes and candy. (...) READ MORE

And When I Die: The Musical! — A Funeral Planning Cabaret

Tuesday, October 27th at 7:30 pm / FREE AND OPEN TO ALL
Park Slope Food Coop, 782 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY

Hesitating over end-of-life decisions? You’re not alone—but don’t die wondering! Learn about advance directives, funeral consumer choices and your next steps at this unique seminar-in-song. Ample time for Q&A and follow-up resources provided. The only requirement is the willingness to accept that you will not live forever in your current form.


Donate ButtonWAYS OF PEACE donates at least 10 percent of net staff compensation forward to other organizations that uphold our core mandates of promoting justice and kindness across lines of diversity.

The Book Is Still Open. The Turning Continues!

Clouds through Ironwork

The Jewish Day of Atonement has ended — but the Book of Life is still open. "May it ultimately be sealed for the good!" is an appropriate traditional greeting through the end of this festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), as the season of teshuvah (re/turning, repentance) continues.

The ancient sage Rabbi Eliezer went further in declaring that the best day to re/turn in teshuvah is "one day before your death" — in other words, every day of our lives. Here are some upcoming programs from WAYS OF PEACE for our ongoing seasons of turning.

Turning and Letting Go: Jewish Ways of Forgiveness

Thursdays, October 15 / 22 / 29 at NightShul in Brooklyn, NY

What is Jewish forgiveness? Is it unconditional? Is it required? Is it all-or-nothing? We'll explore how key sacred texts relate to our own lives in this introduction to one of the most vital — and least understood — of Jewish concerns. Come encounter a surprising biblical forgiveness hero, discover how our High Holy Day liturgy translates into accessible everyday choices, and experiment with some classic Jewish forgiveness rituals. LEARN MORE

And When I Die: The Musical!

A Funeral Planning Cabaret / Tuesday, October 27 at 7:30 pm in Brooklyn, NY

This unique seminar-in-song offers a non-sectarian, ecologically-minded introduction to advance directives, consumer choices and your next steps in a relaxed environment. Free and open to all! LEARN MORE

(Not in or near Brooklyn, NY? If you'd like to bring these or other WAYS OF PEACE programs to your community, we'd love to hear from you.)

With many blessings for the seasons ahead,

Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips 
for WAYS OF PEACE Community Resources

WAYS OF PEACE donates at least 10 percent of net staff compensation to other organizations that uphold our core mandates of promoting justice and kindness across lines of diversity.

Will Just-Giving Save From Death?

"Wealth will not avail on a day of wrath,

yet tzedakah will save from death." (Proverbs 11:4)

img-handsWe are once again moving through the Jewish month of Elul, the beginning of the period of teshuvah — literally, turning or returning — that ushers in our Days of Awe.

The soul-searching of this period began early this year. We mourn the deaths of all whose lives have been cut short by hatred and violence. For all who survive to carry the wounds, we pray for healing and recovery.

The tragedies are relentless and overwhelming — yet we cannot afford the luxuries of numbness or despair. No matter how heartbreaking the situation, there are always real, practical options for sharing our time and money, for bringing people together across differences to affirm our shared humanity. LEARN MORE

It is now 21 years since 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.

All Hands InAnd three weeks ago I returned from the launch of Generous Justice, our new network of learning circles for tzedakah / just-giving. Tzedakah can save lives — and now a multi-generational cohort of change-makers is bringing the principles of just-giving to their home communities, from coast to coast in the U.S. and Canada.

The month of Elul is a traditional time for just-giving disbursements. This season serves as a reminder of how each of us can spend our precious, finite lives more fully, day by day. How will you share your abundance to help repair this broken world? LEARN MORE

Please know that 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

WAYS OF PEACE donates at least 10 percent of net staff compensation to other organizations that uphold our core mandates of promoting justice and kindness across lines of diversity.

Gifts of the Body

Tablet Magazine, 6/12/15

A large manila envelope lies on my desk. Marked “To Be Opened in the Event of My Death,” it contains the most recent version of my ethical will and related documents.

Ethical wills have a long and honored history in Jewish tradition, dating back millennia to the requests of biblical figures like Jacob and Moses. While a legal will deals with matters of tangible personal property, an ethical will, sometimes called a legacy letter, is a statement of intangibles: the experiences, values, hopes and related instructions that we leave for our

But some intangibles—like human equality and reverence for life—need to be expressed in practical terms. My papers in the manila envelope are arranged in the order my survivors will need to see them. My simple burial instructions are on top, along with confirmation of enrollment in my state registry as an organ and tissue donor. (...)

The myth that Jews shouldn't offer gifts of the body after death needs to be laid to rest. There are lives at stake. READ MORE

Will You Be Inscribed?

"May you be inscribed...." The heshbon nefesh (soul accounting) usually associated with the Days of Awe is really a day-by-day commitment, in which life and money are intimately connected.

We are finalizing our unique Generous Justice resource manual — which includes texts, perspectives, how-to's and songs from millennia of prophets, sages, activists and artists to reclaim the Jewish practices of "just-giving." The manual will be available beyond our August training to extend the reach of Generous Justice to additional communities of concern.

Please support this historic effort with a tax-deductible donation to WAYS OF PEACE! All those who make a donation by TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2015 will be inscribed with thanks — by individual or organization name — in our resource manual. 
All Hands In

Jewish organizations are encouraged to donate collectively, and requests for anonymity will be honored.

We're gathering an inspiring cohort of change-makers this summer to renew the dialogue for justice across generations. Some training slots are still available, and you're welcome to join us! APPLY NOW before registration fees go up.

Generous Justice in the News
▪ Love and Money in the Cycle of Release
▪ A Rabbi Shares Her Personal Path Toward Greater Financial Justice

Love and Money

Hazon Shmita Blog, May 2015

The words of the Shema call for love of God “with all your me’od.” Me’od ordinarily means very-much, and is generally translated in the Shema as strength, might, or power. But ancient rabbis understood this power quite specifically: “Love God with all your money.”

Money circulates—often inequitably, but it’s always moving among us. Talmudic rabbis, observing their own generations of changing fortune, declared poverty to be “a wheel that revolves in the world.” Given all the uncertainties of the financial wheel in spin, they called for regular attention to distributive justice: “Just as each small metal scale joins into a great armor-plate, so with tzedakah each and every coin joins into a great heshbon.”

The Jewish ethical principle of heshbon (accountability) provides an immediate connection between ecology and economy, spirituality and social change. Every time we open our wallets or check our bank balances, we face choices of heshbon—and heshbon hanefesh ( “soul accounting”) includes personal finance. How are we literally spending each day of our lives?  READ MORE

What Really Counts

To number our days—teach us,
and we will bring a heart of wisdom.  (Psalm 90:12)

Family TravelogMy mother found this among my father's papers after he died in 2001.  
Years later, my sister scanned the image and sent it to my brother and me.

Tablet Magazine, 5/5/15

My father lived a life of heshbon: accounting and accountability. A carefully handwritten expense log of a family road trip to Maine and Nova Scotia in 1968 shows daily entries for mileage, destinations, meals, lodging, venue admissions and the like, with running totals weaving back and forth between currencies. Dad “numbered our days” to keep us all on track financially. (...)

Along with his call for tithing, the prophet Malachi highlights the need “to return the heart of parents to children, and the heart of children to their parents” (4:6).  I discovered a common financial language with my father toward the end of his life, and now I seek out the money dialogue within and between generations. By sharing our stories, we can move toward more conscious sharing of the money itself. READ MORE