2011 / 5771

Farewell and Shana Tova

After 11 wonderful years of introspection, insight and discovery, editing and cajoling, I made the decision that it was time to retire the Jewels of Elul. The decision was bittersweet. How could it not be considering the extraordinary contributions of 290 writers over 10 years? While all things end their impact can move forward. I READ MORE

Coming Soon – Jewels of Elul XI

Now in its eleventh year, Jewels of Elul is a booklet filled with short, inspirational insights from 29 contributors selected from our previous 10 editions. We’d love to know what your favorite Jewel is! Email to share it with us at favejewel@craignco.com!



Coming Soon: Jewels of Elul X – The Art of Return


Coming Soon:

Jewels of Elul Vol IX, The Art of Welcoming is a booklet featuring Jewels from Rick Lupert, Frank Luntz, Donald Davis, Cantor Angela Buchdahl, Quincy Jones, Idit Klein, Rabbi Stuart Kelman, Rabbi David Saperstein, Clive Lawton, Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, Raychel Kubby Adler, Yael Unterman, Rabbi David Wolpe, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, READ MORE

Coming Soon:

featuring Jewels from:

Bruce Whizin • Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi • Rabbi Everett Gendler • Dr. Eli Brent • Cantor Alberto Mizrahi • Norman Lear • Peter Yarrow • Daniel Callahan • Aubrey de Grey • Ido Kedar • Caine Monroy from Caines Arcade • Herb Alpert • Ginny READ MORE

A Final Jewel: from Craig and Beit T’shuvah

A Note From Craig

Dear Friends,

These are the passions in my life which have no measure: empowering others, honoring creation, making beautiful music, building community…and my family is equal to them all. Jewels of Elul has become a remarkable balancing point in my life allowing me to empower, honor, create and build.


Elul 29: Lightness by Dr. Tamar Frankiel

Blessed are you, Adonai our G*d, Who illuminates the whole world with His glory.

With these words we close our eyes and go into the dark. This is the end of the blessing Ha–Mapil, said after reciting the bedtime Shema.

How strange – that as our conscious life goes dark, we thank G*d for illumination! READ MORE

Elul 28: Sharing The Light by Yisrael Campbell

In 1991 my parents, lifelong members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, were taken to Israel with the Union president, a gentleman named Steinberg, on his annual bonds mission. My parents are not Jewish. I imagine Mr. Steinberg had worked through all the Jews and gotten down to the Irish–Italian Catholics on his staff.


Elul 27: Living Lighter by Abigail Pogrebin 

I seek light by seeking lightness. So much of life can be freighted, fretted. There is a discipline in finding the buoyancy in at least one moment every single day. I’ve had to learn lightness–how to find meaning, levity, even exuberance–in noticing the simplest seconds. There’s work in that: discovering how the tiniest joys can READ MORE

Elul 26: Hidden Light by Menachem Butler

For the past few months, I have thought considerably about many of the blessings recited at the start of morning prayers, as found in a traditional Jewish prayerbook.

In particular, I have wondered what precisely we hope to be thankful for in the blessing to God, “who gives sight to the blind.” This is seemingly READ MORE

Elul 25: The Music of Darkness by Karyn Kedar

It was early September. My husband and I went on a high–speed car chase around the valleys and mountains of the Grand Tetons to capture a glimpse of the setting sun.

With five minutes to spare before the spray of light turned dark, we found a spot nestled in a valley on the side of READ MORE

Elul 24: Seeking Truth by Zion Ozeri

For good or bad, digital communication has revolutionized and transformed our lives. We are now not merely spectators, but active participants empowered to reflect what we see and feel. In the past, only a privileged few had the ability to influence mass media and movements. Nowadays, amateurs and casual users have the ability to contribute READ MORE

Elul 23: Seeing in the Bible by Dennis G. Shulman

I lost my vision gradually throughout my childhood. In 1968, when I went to college, I was totally blind. The years since have been blessed with great people, with myriad challenges, and with remarkable opportunities. During these years, I have also been blessed with a story from the Bible, to which I have turned many READ MORE

Elul 22: You Are My Sunshine by Nancy Abramson

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey…” Many years ago, when my children were young, I used to sing this folk song. I wanted them to believe that each of them was my sunshine, the focal light of my universe. And I also needed to reassure and READ MORE

Elul 21: The Spark by Bradley Keywell

I am often asked, “What makes a great entrepreneur?” My answer describes someone with an explosive combination of ideas, vision, drive, persistence, and something nearly impossible to describe—a spark, a light. Our world advances because of human beings who are willing to take risks in pursuit of their ideas and their vision, who possess the READ MORE

Elul 20: Light Seeker by Idan Raichel

To understand the light, we must understand the dark. For me, the dark is what people experience when they have lost their way on the long road of life. It happens to all of us. We lose our center and feel we have nothing to lean on. We do not see the way to the READ MORE

Elul 19: You Are the One by Barbara Rosman Penzner

Though we might believe that we always want to seek the light, the truth is that sometimes we need a break. I learned this while visiting Iceland in June, when the sun barely sets for three hours a day. While it was great having a longer day—we enjoyed broad daylight at the beach at 11 READ MORE

Elul 18 – Seek the Light by Rahm Emanuel

From the time I was a child, my parents insisted that our family had a responsibility to make life better for those around us. Whether I was following my father on his medical rounds, marching with my mother for civil rights, or working as a counselor in a camp for kids with special needs, there READ MORE

Elul 17 – Let There Be Light by Tamar Elad-Appelbaum

It was dawn. My mother and I watched silently as the sun rose on a new day, the seventh day of my brother’s Shiva. My brother, Nadav Elad, had been an IDF soldier in one of the elite units of the paratroopers.

We should have hated the sun, lighting up a world that seemed so READ MORE

Elul 16 – Can We Talk? by Billy Jonas

Dear God: I’m sad…I’m seeking light. Why? Isn’t everyone seeking light? No. I am. I prefer to be happy. I understand what you seek. You don’t, though. I’m not seeking light? Dude: My eternal flame dances in your heart, emanating from your eyes and fingers, radiating through your voice, your action and every loving intention READ MORE

Elul 15 – God Is The Light by Najeeba Syeed-Miller

“God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth.” Qur’an 24:35

This verse of the Holy Book of Muslims has been elucidated upon by Muslim scholars for generations. My explanation is decidedly more pedestrian. I write in the month of Ramadan, withholding myself from food, drink, gossip and speaking negatively of others. My tongue READ MORE

Elul 14 – Light of the World by Michael Reagan and Larry Greenfield

President Reagan achieved peace through strength and restoration of the American dream. He believed in individual liberty and the natural rights of all men as endowed by our Creator.

And more. Ronald Reagan was a decent, winning, humble, and honorable man who practiced the politics of principled compromise and personal courtesy, rooted in his religious READ MORE

Elul 13 – Amazing Light by Cecil L. “Chip” Murray

Where can we who walk in darkness find brighter light? I suggest we look no further than to the preacher/poet, John Newton. He was a former slave trader who saw the light. Today he is best known as the composer of the hymn, Amazing Grace!

Again and again in the Bible, we read the invocation, READ MORE

Elul 12 – Spiritual Light by Mary J. Blige

The seeking of spiritual light is gained through having faith and trust in God. Prayer provides the path, leading to inner strength and pushing us toward greater honesty with ourselves.

With honesty comes clarity, as we come to see the truth of our condition. We can then change what we can and accept what we READ MORE

Elul 11 – Roundtable Enlightenment

In June of 2011 members of Jewish Social Justice Round Table shared their ideas on the Art of Seeking Light:

Sometimes elusive, always there to be discovered. Stick with the task, elevate the vision. Ruth Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service

Balance the ideal with the possible, dream big, breathe, pause and continue READ MORE

Elul 10 – L is for Light by Steven Lowenstein

Yehi Or-Let there be Light.

L is for Light That I give and receive By teaching and sharing with others As we search for what we believe.

Truth is: We all possess light, different kinds of light. Sometimes we share that light, sometimes we hide it, even from ourselves. Sometimes it’s READ MORE

Elul 9 – Two Stories by Jack Riemer

On the day they were created, Adam and Eve sinned and were expelled from the Garden. As the sun set and the world grew darker they said, “Because of our sin, the world is ending.”

They stayed up all night, praying to God. When the sun rose at dawn, relieved they said, “There is a READ MORE

Elul 8 – Bringing Light by Debbie Wasserman Schultz

They say if you want something done right, give it to a busy woman… and I have found that to be true in my life.

As the first Jewish woman elected to Congress from the state of Florida, I have been proud to represent my constituents in our state legislature and in the U.S. House READ MORE

Elul 7 – Searching For Enlightenment by Alison Laichter

When I was a teenager, I read every book I could find on meditation. Almost all of the books talked about enlightenment, which fascinated me. I thought it meant that if I meditated enough, something would suddenly change. I would see things differently, bend spoons, maybe even glow.

As my meditation practice grew and deepened, READ MORE

Elul 6 – Candlelight by Josh Kornbluth

Talking about enlightenment — at least in spiritual terms — doesn’t come easily to me. My upbringing was totally, passionately, proudly secular. We “modern” Jews held no truck with the “old fashioned” types who went to temple, spoke to God, became “enlightened.”

Except … I’m remembering one evening, back when I was five or so, READ MORE

Elul 5 – Clothed In Light by Elie Kaunfer

Light, ultimately, is an expression of oneness. Life, ultimately, is about yearning toward that oneness.

There is an incredible story about a rabbi named Meir who lived 1,900 years ago. Rabbi Meir was a scribe. He meticulously wrote out the precious words of the Torah. Each letter was written with ultimate care. No mistakes were READ MORE

Elul 4 – Need Nothing Want Everything by Dave Koz

Someone told me years ago that we musicians do our shows for free. The fee we receive, she explained, covers the OTHER 22 hours of the day. Planes, vans, lumpy pillows, filthy dressing rooms: it’s not the glamorous life that people think. But I wouldn’t trade a moment of it. Occasionally, even in the harshest READ MORE

Elul 3 – That’s How The Light Gets In by Rick Jacobs

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

~ Leonard Cohen

Once again Moses is wearing himself out carrying the burden of the Jewish people on his shoulders. God intervenes by taking some of the spirit that is in Moses and sharing it with others. How can READ MORE

Elul 2 – The Light Within by Dani Shapiro

This past winter, I paid a visit to my elderly aunt–my late father’s younger sister–with whom I am very close. I have learned some of my greatest life lessons from her. Shirley lives in a stately home on a tree-lined street in Brookline, Massachusetts, where the phone never stops ringing. She is a mother of READ MORE

Elul 1 – Enough for Me by Dee Dee Myers

When my daughter was just shy of her first birthday, we joined a toddler class. Every week, a dozen or so parents and the instructor would quietly observe the children, in an effort to raise “authentic” and “competent” human beings, with a minimum of intervention.

One afternoon, a little boy toppled off a slide and READ MORE

Introduction by Rabbi David Wolpe

Our sages tell us that the first time Adam saw the sun go down, he was terrified. He had seen day, but had never experienced the night.God took pity on him and gave him two stones to rub together in order to create fire. The name of one stone was afelah, darkness, and the other READ MORE

Welcome to the seventh year of Jewels of Elul

Welcome to the seventh volume of Jewels of Elul. In just a few days you and tens of thousands of people around the world will begin receiving daily inspirations for the upcoming Holy Days. Here is my introduction.

In recent times scientists have acknowledged the importance of light, even naming a new syndrome, Seasonal Affective READ MORE

Order Jewels Booklets

Click here to order bulk copies of Jewels of Elul VII from Beit T’Shuvah