Posts by Meredith Cahn

Reflections on the Fires

Posted by on Oct 15, 2017 in Blog | 3 comments

A week ago Friday, I participated as a spiritual care provider in a “critical incident stress debriefing” because one of our Kaiser Santa Rosa staff had been at the concert in Las Vegas that turned into the largest mass shooting in our history. The staff member, her family, and her unit colleagues clearly needed the debriefing. It felt like a huge honor to be involved in helping their healing process.   Now it feels like months ago. Time itself has changed.   Monday morning arrived with news of the fires, and news that Kaiser Santa Rosa, where I serve as chaplain, had evacuated 170 patients, many of whom I had visited the two days before. Spring Lake...

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Toward Resilience and Acceptance: Choosing Life 5778

Posted by on Sep 30, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

Recently a friend and dearly respected colleague posted on FB that he had been the victim of a small but upsetting FB attack, comprised of a single word: queer. He’s been a gay activist most of his life, he’s a mensch among mensches, he’s experienced homophobia before, but he marveled how it was possible that he could still be “instantly destroyed” by it.   It’s a core wound of his.   Recently, in the space of a few days, I was attacked online by two people I would never have expected…One, a Buddhist chaplain, had misread my email that 20 other people read correctly and took offense where none was present; another, a rabbi who teaches mindfulness,...

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Welcoming the Stranger: Kol Nidre 5778

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

‘Hath not a Jew eyes?’ By the time Shylock utters these words in The Merchant of Venice, I am always relieved that he stands up to antisemitism. I’m a bit of a Shakespeare groupie—in the days pre-Olya, Sam and I would go to England every year to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform. I could never bring myself to go somewhere else because nothing could beat the joy I experienced at excellent theater. Now we make an annual trek to Ashland to be rejuvenated. I think—and of course I’m not alone or original in this—that Shakespeare is one of, if not the most brilliant playwrights in the English language. And I had little trouble in using “the time...

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Dominion Over the Earth and Ourselves: Rosh Hashanah 5778 morning

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

I confess, I decided to read the second day RH torah reading, meaning I had to learn a lot of torah, because I could not bear to chant and translate and discuss this year, the binding of Isaac, the story that just felt too upsetting in this year of upset… The second day reading in the Reform tradition is the creation of the world, because, well, this holiday also celebrates the creation of the world and the creation of humanity. As we discussed last night, it also compels us to look at our place in the universe, in light of the sovereignty of God. What we are about to read in the seven days of creation, moving from the chaos of the unformed universe with God’s spirit...

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Accepting God’s Will or Accepting Reality–You Choose: Erev Rosh Hashanah 5778

Posted by on Sep 20, 2017 in Blog | 4 comments

A while ago in the ICU at Kaiser we cared for a patient whose stroke had rendered him brain dead. He had a large loving family, lots of friends, and had been a pillar of his fundamentalist Christian community. The staff was struggling because the family kept telling them that they were praying, praying for a miracle, and they knew God would grant it. One early morning, I sat with one of his sons and asked him, “What if this IS what God is giving you? What if this IS the answer to your prayers? Just not the answer you were hoping for?”   The son replied that they were not stupid, and they were feeling like the medical staff were treating them this way. If the...

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Facing the Patterns that are no Longer Useful: Devarim and Tisha B’Av 5777

Posted by on Jul 23, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

While I was in seminary—about 10 years ago, I had a professor who alienated all the women in my rabbinic class. In the very first class with him, Introduction to Mysticism, he told us that first year students in mysticism were supposed to listen and not speak. (He meant students studying to become mystics, rather than students studying the history of mysticism, but still…) Jewish mysticism is very male. Very male. The metaphors don’t work for me. And so I didn’t get it at all. I’m not used to “not getting it.” And I was not alone in being challenged in that class and by that professor. Even he, three years later, acknowledged to a group of us that he “had...

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