Rabbi Anne Brener

Rabbi Anne Brener

Parashat Chayye Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

“And Abraham expired, and died at a good old age…. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah … and Isaac settled near Beer-la’chai Roi” (Genesis 25:8-11).


The phrase “time heals all wounds” is misleading. We hold our breath, and as the years pass we hope that the pain of loss will end. Often we are disappointed. However, it is possible to use time as a healer. In so doing the progression of the seasons can bring comfort.

Tears in a Bottle

In a cabinet in my synagogue’s foyer is a small glass bottle with two openings. It is an object from around 100 C.E. which caught and held the tears of those who mourned the destruction of the Temple. According to a legend, it was believed that the Messiah would come when the bottle was filled.

Oneness at 30,000 Feet

I am blessed with a window seat and a clear day as I fly to New York for my daughter’s college graduation.

Turn Memory Into Blessing

Holidays bring up feelings and memories about people who have died. They also offer opportunities to address unresolved issues. The four Yizkor services and the themes of their days correspond to different tasks of mourning.

Mourning the Morning Call — back in New Orleans

I am a New Orleans Jew. The values of those identities fuel me like the smooth-yet-caffeinated drink that is the trademark of my hometown. I embrace the changing communal calendars and the rituals for their observances of joy and tragedy. These have taught me what it means to be human and how to extract eternity from the changing seasons.

On completing treatment …

I have finished my eight rounds of chemotherapy. I feel like someone coming to the end of a year of mourning, about to surrender the status of \”mourner\” and return to face the world without a label to describe my continuing internal struggle.

The great (non) depression

Depression is a word that has been cheapened. We forget that it is a diagnosis for a bona fide disease. It becomes a catch phrase for the weighty feelings we experience as we come to terms with life\’s challenges and honor the process of change.


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