Vermont Values

When my wife and I relocated to this area from New York City 40 years ago, we found that we did not always “fit in.” People whose values we shared and with whom we had hoped to be friends were often cliquish and unwelcoming. Contrary to stereotypes, it was more often native-born Vermonters who seemed not to judge us by where we came from or how we talked, but would size you up and accept you if you had a good heart and a good character.

The Fragility of Our Mortality

There are times when we are reminded of how fragile and precious life is. We need these reminders to provide us with a perspective on our lives and our place in the overall scheme of things. You don’t have to be religious to realize that humans pass through the universe in the blinking of an eye. Most of us hope that short time makes a difference somewhere.

I was reminded of all of these things with the passing of my friend Rich Moore. I knew Rich for over 30 years and we worked and played together in Brattleboro and tried to make life better for those around us while we tried to enjoy the gift of life that we were given.

Rich was one of those people who could talk to anyone and instantly make them feel that they were the most important person in the world. When you talked to him you knew that he really cared about you and that he wanted to not only hear your story but also be a part of it if he could. That is a rare quality and Rich Moore embodied that spirit.

Waves of Hope: Retreat for Bereaved Parents Fundraiser

“Since April 21, 2014 I have been living an alternate life… my son Nic passed from this mortal existence on that day. I am not the same and never will be. I once thought the traumas I’d experienced up to that date were the worst that could happen. I was wrong. Nothing else even comes close to this. Nic, this child I birthed, is no longer embodied here on Earth. Surviving this is an unparalleled, surreal experience.

‘Tarot as a Metaphysical Tool for Personal Development Not a Parlor Game’

For many of us our initial exposure to Tarot Cards and Tarot Readings is one of fortune tellers and carnivals; mysterious, shadowy foretelling of things to come be they pleasant or unpleasant. Those who read Tarot Cards are portrayed in the movies as the person who predicts the future or events that haven’t happened yet.

It is rare to experience Tarot as a metaphysical tool for understanding our life path more deeply, a navigational map for moving forward or the sacred sciences it embraces i.e. numerology, sacred geometry, karmic patterns, 5 element principles and a guide to our Higher or Lower roads of Consciousness and personal development.

Remembering Wally White and Faith Ministries

Christmas Story in newspaper

Thirty-five years ago, the Town of Brattleboro gave a homeless shelter run by Faith Ministries a December 25 deadline to close.

The Christmas deadline — a public relations blunder — was dramatic enough to garner national attention, but the real issue was articulated in a press release in which Wally & Emily White said the following:

“At a time when many municipal administrations are asking churches to shelter the homeless, in Brattleboro the Zoning Board is trying to close a church run shelter. If they succeed, up to eight homeless men may face the cruel winter with nowhere else to go. One of them nearly died of exposure last year while sleeping in a dumpster.”

Christmas This Year

Solstice 2020

Every year at Christmastime, our household goes a little crazy with holiday and seasonal preparations. We play Christmas music from Thanksgiving on, make presents, shop, bake cookies, eat cookies, put cookies away so we’ll stop eating cookies, make chocolates, see above, wrap presents, plan meals, shop some more. Truth is, it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure. It makes you a little corny to love Christmas, especially the way I do. But this year seems different. I believe we have a valid excuse to try to keep up good cheer. To do otherwise would be morbid, and morbid is not what you want to be during a global pandemic. But it’s not easy, especially with all the grim tidings we’ve been treated to lately.

Donald Trump’s October Surprise

Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has Covid-19. That this happened on a full moon was weird, almost spooky and very Octoberish.

I noticed no other omens however.  Last night, we watched Stella Dallas on tv and then checked news wherein we saw that Trump was on a short list to have Covid-19.  In one of those “this changes everything” ways, that news instantly blew up all conventional thinking about everything.  Not that it was unexpectable — but definitely unexpected.  We were expecting him to try to keep the White House by force, not catch Covid and potentially die.  Like I said, Octoberish.

Time To Consider the Essential

As the viral pandemic of 2020 reached American shores, certain clear actions were required. Life is worth living, so it must be preserved! Those in positions of public responsibility bear the weight of decision-making. Our survival depends on their just policies. How would human lives be best safe-guarded? How would vital services necessary for our well-being be maintained while simultaneously curtailing public gatherings? A virus needs time to spread from person to person, ensuring its deadly existence.

A Ballet of Rain

I found myself standing in the upstairs window, watching the rain fall in the meadow outside and humming “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”  Clearly, I thought, I want to ride away on a sunshiny day in search of adventure.  Realizing that wasn’t likely, I continued to watch the rain as it fell, gradually noticing the budding silver maple just outside the window.

Peace On Earth


Around this time of year, it’s common to hear the phrase “Peace on earth,” which is what the angels reputedly said to the shepherds out abiding in the fields. “Peace on earth, good will to men,” they sang in glorious harmony. They were heralding the coming of the prophet Jesus, who was foretold to be the Prince of Peace. Christianity seems to have arisen out of a desire for peace — the absence of war, the presence of good will amongst humans. It was deemed so important that this soon to be major religion was founded in part on these corniest of virtues, peace and love.

Nia Franklin Wins Miss America By The Numbers

In Gematria, Nia Imani Franklin=92. She won the 92nd Miss America pageant
this happened on 9/9/2018. It has day numerology of 29. 9+9+2+0+1+8=29. 29 is the reflection of 92. Nia Franklin=109. 109 is the 29th prime number. She was born on the 209th day of the year. In numerology, zeros are dropped. 209 is 29.

The Catholic Malaise

I’m listening to a broadcast on VPR about the currently exploding priest sexual scandal.

As a descendant of Irish people, I grew up Catholic. Total immersion: Mass every Sunday, 12 years of Catholic school, Altar Boy. The whole ball of wax. I even joined a Catholic fraternity in college.

I have to say that I never observed any hint of sexual abuse toward myself or toward anybody else, male or female.

BAJC’s Annual Chanukah Party

Oy Chanukah, Oy Chanukah!

Please join us for the annual BAJC Chanukah Party on Friday December 23. We will start at 5:00 pm with an hour of story and study; we’ll look at how the story of Chanukah is told in the Books of the Maccabees and after, and what it means to us now in this era of zealotry and intolerance. Then at 6:00 pm we’ll light Shabbat candles – it’s the day before Chanukah really begins, so (sadly) we won’t be lighting our Chanukiot (menorahs) this year.

We’ll sing Shabbat blessings and a Chanukah song. Then we’ll feast on latkes (potato pancakes), applesauce and sour cream, with veggies side dishes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) and chocolate gelt for dessert. After our latke feast we’ll hear and share stories of the season.

Introduction to Judaism

Just what is Judaism, anyway? A religion? A culture? A way of life? All of the above? Starting in mid- to late November, Cantor Kate Judd will be offering an eighteen week class at the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community in West Brattleboro, exploring some of Judaism’s many facets. Using the Union for Reform Judaism’s , but jumping off in the directions that are prompted by discussion, the class will consider how Judaism approaches life cycle events, God, worship and spirituality, holidays, personal responsibility, justice and mercy, partnership and family life, and more.

November Shabbat Services at Brattleboro Area Jewish Community

Please join Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, Congregation Shir Heharim, for Shabbat services.

Shabbat morning services in November  take place at 10 am on the 5th, 12th, and 19th.

Shabbat morning services are followed by an oneg  (coffee and a snack) and a chance to shmooze (chat) with friends old and new.

Kabbalat Shabbat service (A musical Shabbat service) at 7:00 pm on Friday November 25th.  Come and relax on the day after Thanksgiving with music and prayers and a potluck dessert.

Jewish New Years Begins

At sundown on Sunday, October 2nd, Jewish people all over the world will welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish year 5777. Rosh Hashanah begins a sacred period known as the Days of Awe that culminates ten days later on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, observed this year on October 12th.

Daniel Kasnitz, President of Congregation Shir Heharim, announces that the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community will offer Rosh Hashanah services beginning at 7pm on October 2nd at the West Village Meeting House of All Souls Church on South Street in West Brattleboro, and continuing there the next day at 9:30 am. The traditional second day of services will be offered at the congregation’s synagogue at 151 Greenleaf Street in West Brattleboro, on Tuesday morning at 9:30 am.

Science and…

The author of a recent polemic, titled, The Separation of Science and Belief – “Give No Solace to the Faithful” posed a great question. He asked: 

“Is it irrational to believe in something that cannot be proven?”

It was clear that he intended it as a rhetorical question, to which there could only be one right answer. Some dialogue followed, and a lot of insult. I think this question is too important to get lost in the fog of verbal warfare. I hope we can revisit it… more productively this time.