Friday, December 30, 2011

Who Is This Woman?

Photo by Wendy Carlson
Who Is This Woman?

Who is this woman who talks to angels

   and is on familiar terms with divinity?

In the fullness of time,

 She bore the fullness of grace.

The shepherds went in haste,

 And found the angels’ proclamation true.

  All were there as they had been told,

    Maiden mother, mentor, and male child.

Those who heard of it were amazed.

Mary looked on in gratitude.

   The silence in her heart

Held the past and the future

     In a balance.

Eight days passed before marking him,

    Naming him,

Whose future pulls us forward. 

Who is this woman

   Who dared to say “Yes”

And, now holds eternal vulnerability

   In her lap?   

                                          Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP                 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Birth of Jesus

How beautiful is Jesus, Wisdom Incarnate.

He, like Wisdom whom he embodies, is the brightness of God, The unstained mirror of the Divine Reflecting all in God and God in all.

(Excerpt # 126, The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louise DeMontfort's Contemplation on Divine Wisdom, Rabbi Rami Shapiro.  Book available through Wisdom House, $5 includes shipping.  Wisdom House, 229 E Litchfield Rd, Litchfield, CT 06759 / 860-567-3163 /

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Incarnate Wisdom is Born

Wisdom entered time as time:
Entered creation as creativity;

And walked among us as many, but none more filled with Her than Jesus

Of Whom the Ineffable said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

To know Him as Wisdom
Is to know Him as the Apostles knew Him at His Transfiguration:

“Light radiant, sublime, immense, unlimited, Older than heaven and chaos” (Hymn of Transfiguration).

That is, they knew Him as Her, Eternal Wisdom,

She who is illustrious, high, immense, infinite, and older than the universe.

Blessed Christmas and holy peace to all.

(Excerpt #19, The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louise DeMontfort’s Contemplation  on Divine Wisdom, Rabbi Rami Shapiro.  Book available through Wisdom House, $5 includes shipping. Wisdom House, 229 E Litchfield Rd, Litchfield, CT 06759 / 860-567-3163 /

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Song, Scripture, and Silence in the Manner of Taizè

The Advent retreat, "Song, Scripture, and Silence in the manner of Taizè," was led by Melinda and Bruce Gardiner, Dec. 2-4 in the Farm House at Wisdom House. Periods of teaching, silence, and chanting, using the music of the community of Taizè, France, provided the rhythm of the retreat.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011



The  angelic  body  bowed  low

in  adoration

Before  the  woman  soon-to-be-

with  child.

"Blessed,"  he  called  her.

"Why?"  she  asked.

"Chosen,"  was  his  answer.

He  waited.   She  wondered.

"How?  Not  now,"  she  said.

"God  changes  time,"  said

the  messenger.

"A  son  but  no  husband?

A  mother  before

being  a


"Impossible!"  she  pro-


"Exactly,"  he  smiled.

                                                                               Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP

Saturday, December 17, 2011



The beginning of the O Antiphons, December 17

Eternal Wisdom brings delight and satisfaction,
And the wise are filled with joy.
They do not condemn this world,
But seek to heal it.
Wisdom and those who teach Her
Pour out joy, sweetness, and peace into the world,
So that even in times of great trial the wise can say,
My joy is boundless even in the midst of my suffering ( II Corinthians 7:4)
Let Eternal Wisdom be your friend,
For there is “great delight in her friendship” (Wisdom 8:18)

(Excerpt #98, The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louis DeMontfort’s Contemplation on Divine Wisdom, Rabbi Rami Shapiro. Book available through Wisdom House, $5 includes shipping.) Wisdom House, 229 E Litchfield Rd, Litchfield, CT 06759 / 860-567-3163/

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Knowing Wisdom

Wisdom is the source of all consolation.

To know Her is to know intimate sweetness.

To draw near to Her is to draw near to the Nameless

From whom She arises and before whom she plays ( Proverbs 8:22).

And yet we do not draw near for our sake.

But for Hers,

And thus the more we long for Wisdom,

The more we listen to Her,

The more we are compelled to teach Her ways,

And to celebrate the teachings of others, especially Jesus Christ,

Who is the human incarnation of Wisdom.

(Excerpt, #10 from The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louis DeMontfort’s Contemplation on Divine Wisdom by Rabbi Rami Shapiro. Book is available through Wisdom House for a minimum donation of $5, includes shipping.)
Wisdom House, 229 E Litchfield Rd, Litchfield, CT 06759 / 860-567-3163 /

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mary is the Tree of Life and Jesus Her fruit.

If it is the fruit you desire,

It is the tree you must cultivate.

Whoever desires to have Jesus must first have Mary.

While Mary isn’t Incarnate Wisdom,

She is the Mother of Incarnate Wisdom,

And as such She has influence over Him

In ways that only mothers can.

Mary  gives Him to whom She wills,

And births Him daily in the souls of those She deems worthy.

(Excerpt #204-205, The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louis DeMontfort’s Contemplation on Divine Wisdom, Rabbi Rami Shapiro.  Book available through Wisdom House for donation of $5, shipping included)
Wisdom House, 229 E Litchfield Rd, Litchfield, CT 06759 / 860-567-3173 /

Friday, December 9, 2011

Matthew Titley

Matthew Titley, Wisdom House’s Information Technician (IT),
at work on one of the retreat center’s computers.

Over the recent years, Matthew Titley has upgraded the center’s server, installed wi-fi, designed the newsletter template, and provided data backup services for our e-commerce system. His company, SOS Consulting, of which Matt is president, also hosts our web site, internet newsletter, and email services for Wisdom House. Often, problems have been solved with remote access to our computers which keeps computer communications flowing.

Matt is a great teacher and is very patient. He is a gift to Wisdom House.  Visit his company at

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 21:12-19

In these days of instant foods, instant digital photos, instant communication and even instant winners, it can seem obsolete to talk about perseverance.  So much of life around us has us moving on the "fast track" and expecting immediate results.  Yet, God's creation, including ourselves, gives evidence that much of life is a gradual process.  Living, changing, healing, growing, forgiving, loving and all the vital signs of life take time, patience and perseverance.  Being patient and persevering amid enduring situations can be some of life's more difficult challenges.

As we look back over the past year, we may want to review our lives and try to identify the times where we had to be patient and persevere in practicing our Christian way of life.  In fact, as we come to the close of this year, it would be good to make a review of our lives over the past months.  In this gospel, Jesus tells us that following him will not always be easy.  People will not always agree with the way Christians are called to behave.  The Beatitudes are a summary of the way Jesus asks Christians to act:  he asks for simple living, peacemaking, care for others, respect for creation and love of God and neighbor.  Jesus adds to this, expect be persecuted and disliked by others because we follow him. Not everyone will “friend” us!  In the words of this gospel:  "They will seize and persecute you…". 

            The key word to hear in this gospel is "perseverance."  To persevere is to "hold fast" to the Word of God knowing that in time, fruit will come forth.  Patience is needed as we persevere and for this, we often need to rely on God's strength to help us persevere and not fall into hostile ways.  When difficulties come to us, they can be turned into positive situations for the believer.  By our perseverance, we become witnesses to the fullness of Christian life which entails suffering as well as joy.  In the early church, Christian witness often meant martyrdom.  This act of persevering in one's belief was considered admirable. Early Christians believed that the seed of faith is watered by the blood of the martyrs.

Christian witness continues today with a type of martyrdom that brings death to our impulse to have instant results.  When we want to solve dilemmas immediately, or do something to make everything right, especially in relationships, we need to remember that healing takes time.  All things of value take time, patience and perseverance.  Let us take encouragement from the words of Jesus:  "By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

Rosemarie Greco, DW

(Edited version of homily published 2011 by Faith Catholic, Lansing, MI. Printed with permission.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent: Seek Wisdom and Jesus, Incarnate Wisdom

Wisdom dwells with God, and is God’s Beloved (Wisdom 8:3).

If it is God you desire, let it be Wisdom you seek, For She is true God.

Wisdom is the knowledge of God
And to know Her is to know Him as well (Wisdom 8:4).

Wisdom is known through both form and formlessness.
For some the form is the easier gateway to Her,
For others the formless.
For those who prefer the form,
There is no greater form than Jesus, Wisdom Incarnate.

(Excerpt from The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louis DeMontfort’s Contemplation on Divine Wisdom. Rabbi Rami Shapiro,

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent: Seek Wisdom

I, Solomon, adored Wisdom from my youth
And desired to be Her lover
(Wisdom 8:2)

Seek Her now, and wait no longer.
Seek Her spiritually and do not become entrapped in materialism.
Seek Her unwaveringly, and do not stop until She is found.

(Excerpt from The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louis DeMontfort’s Contemplation on Divine Wisdom.  Rabbi Rami Shapiro,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The season of Advent invites us to desire Divine Wisdom

Wisdom embraces infinity, and orders all things sweetly. (Wisdom 8:1)

Let those who love Her
Place no barriers between themselves and others,
But rather seek an order that is a delight to all.

(Excerpt from The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louis DeMontfort’s Contemplation on Divine Wisdom.  Rabbi Rami Shapiro.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thread Artists Come to Wisdom House

Recently two group of thread artists, Common Thread and the Quadrille Quilters, came to Wisdom House to work on their works-in-progress. Their artistry filled the house with wonder at what their skills produced!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Scripture reflection for the Feast of Christ the King

Based on Scripture readings:
Ezekiel 34, 11-17
1 Corinthians 15, 20-28
Matthew 25, 31-46

           There is a story about American missionaries in August, 1977 who stayed with a group of nuns in a convent in Nairobi, Africa.  One morning at breakfast, the Americans were greeted with the news, “Your king has died.”  Because of the puzzled look on their faces, the nun repeated, “Your king has died.”  Finally, the bearer of this confusing and surprising news said, “Elvis Presley, your king of rock, has died.”

This is a good illustration of the fact that the same words don’t always carry the same meaning in all cultures.  In different contexts they express different meanings.

This November we celebrate the last Sunday of the church’s liturgical year.  We name it the feast of Christ the King.  Despite the efforts of some, Jesus Christ is not a king in the realm of the entertainment world.  Nor is he one who rules over us in the political sense.  He is the ruler we think of when we set up the standard by which to measure our Christian life.  His life is the standard of compassion, justice, and generosity by which we measure our lives.  Just how has he influenced your values, your actions and even your dreams this year?

We discover his path in the gospels.  We learn what ruled him and how he built his life around that.  We learn how he hastened in prayer to his Father, and how he defended those undervalued by society.  This list is a long one:  lepers, tax collectors, women and children, prostitutes, the poor.

 “Jesus of the People” by Janet McKenzie
He reached out to them as he reached out to us.  He moves them to follow him and to live and love in the same way he did.  His was a life of invitation.  His was an open life.  In this he found his joy.  In this he also discovered suffering.  His path leads to the fullness of life.

How fully do we take into our lives the patterns that ruled his life?  This feast invites us to welcome Christ more deeply into our hearts and into our lives.  We do this when we welcome him in our neighbors, in the poor, in the sick and homebound, in the youngest among us.

Jesus is our dependable measure.  Let us live gratefully with him as our rule of life, as the standard, we use for seeking and living the fullest of lives!

                                      Rosemarie Greco, DW

This was previously published in Quest (Fall 2008), a reflection booklet of the Pastoral Dept. for Small Christian Communities (, a service of the Archdiocese of Hartford, CT.

Printed with permission.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Gift of Wisdom: Gift Certificates Toward Wisdom House Programs

Gift certificates for programs at Wisdom House are available year round.   They are especially useful as Christmas and holiday gifts.  Your certificate will offer the gift of peace and hope into the coming year.

Click here for more information.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Confident Edge Academy Offers an Alternative Approach

Christine Durham, the founder and director of Confident Edge Academy in Bloomfield, CT, is interviewed by Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP, Wisdom Correspondent for "Rich Answers," a weekly radio program sponsored by The Conference of Churches in Hartford.  It airs on WRCH 100.5 FM every Sunday morning from 5:30 am - 6:30 am.

The academy offers extended help in enhancing the academic and social skills of youth (PreK - 8th Grade) in the Hartford area in reading, writing, and mathematics Monday-Thursday 3:00pm-6:00pm.  On Saturdays, youth explore various interests including dance, drama, science, culture, civics, art, horseback riding, and more.

For more information, contact Ms. Durham at or 860-243-5414.

To listen to the audio from this interview, please click here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Casagrande Interfaith Conversation

This year's Casagrande Interfaith Institute for Interfaith Conversation took place Oct. 28-30. The theme was Prayer in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions. Rev. Robley Whitson spoke about "Prayer in the 21st Century," Rev. Dr. Shelley Best spoke about Christian Pentecostal Prayer, Rabbi Michal Woll spoke about the prayer in the Jewish tradition, and Refai Arefin spoke about Islam and prayer. Author Jon Sweeney gave an evening presentation on "Praying With Our Hands."

The hope of this year's institute was to foster an appreciation of the desire for God as expressed through prayer in the Abrahamic traditions. 

The institute and the historic October snowstorm made simultaneous appearances!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

2011 Wisdom Award

The 2011 Wisdom Award was given to Catherine and Gregory Oneglia and Roderic Oneglia, each of Litchfield, CT.  Catherine and Gregory were honored as "Partners in Service" and Roderic was honored as a "Community Builder."
The award is given by the Daughters of Wisdom through Wisdom House to honor individuals, who through their lives of service, give witness to Divine Wisdom.  The award acknowledges the Divine Presence as expressed in works of creativity, education, hospitality, justice, generosity, outreach to those who are vulnerable, and in efforts to created community.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Volunteers help with Wisdom House labyrinth

Students and faculty from The Taft School came to Wisdom House to do a final fall weeding of the labyrinth.  Annually, students and faculty volunteer time to help us get the labyrinth ready before winter sets in.  Those helping this year were Michelle Hudson, Ava Mennin, faculty member Louetta Chickadaunce, and Josh Grossman.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Northend Agent's Newspaper: Agent for Change

Yolanda Allen, editor of the Northend Agent's, recently was interviewed by Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP, Wisdom Correspondent for the Conference of Churches' weekly radio show, "Rich Answers," aired on Sunday morning 5:30 am-6:30 am on WRCH 100.5 FM.

The Northend Agent's newspaper is Connecticut's largest African American newspaper.  Originally designed to focus on the Greater Hartford area, its information and commentaries are respected  resource nationwide. One of its most recent auxiliary publications is The REAL - Real Talk and Real Teens.

The REAL provides an opportunity to showcase and share the work of talented young writers.

For more information about both of these publications, visit

To listen to the audio from this interview, please click here.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Northwest Conservation District Meets At Wisdom House

The Northwest Conservation District of Connecticut held its annual meeting and award ceremony at Wisdom House on Oct. 18. Executive Director Jean Cronauer organized the meeting where Dept.of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty gave the keynote.  The Commissioner told the 80 people present that there are new ways to be more efficient and that CT can pave the way forward in energy leadership.

Recognition awards were given to towns in Northwest CT and to Wisdom House for their energy projects and installations.  The Northwest Conservation District can be visited at

Friday, October 28, 2011

125th Anniversary of The Statue of Liberty

October 28, 2011 will be the 125 Anniversary of The Statue of Liberty.
A sign for so many immigrants seeking a new and better life on our shores,
may we continue to make real that promise today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Artistic Director at The Hartford Stage

Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP, recently talked with Darko Tresnjak, the new artistic director for Hartford Stage, during an interview at the office of The Conference of Churches in Hartford. The conversation was taped for the program "Rich Answers" which is on every Sunday morning from 5:30 am - 6:30 am on WRCH 100.5 FM.

Mr. Tresnjak spoke about his background in the arts, his love of directing, and his hopes for Hartford Stage as it moves into the future. He has said that he hopes when people come to Hartford Stage, they  will be reminded of why they fell in love with theatre in the first place.

For the upcoming works being performed at Hartford Stage, visit

To listen or download the audio from this interview, please click here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ralph Levesque Exhibit Opening

"New Directions: Mixed Media Works of Ralph Levesque," a new exhibit, opened recently in the Marie Louise Trichet Gallery at Wisdom House. Here are some photos taken at the artist talk and the reception that followed.

For more about his work, visit

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Timothy Radcliffe, OP, and The Imaginative Word

Dominican friar Timothy Radcliffe from Oxford, England, was the featured speaker at this year's Exploring Catholic Culture program at Wisdom House on September 23-24.

His theme, "The Imaginative Word," challenged and encouraged those present to delve more deeply into the Scriptures so that their witness and experience of the Word would have greater relevance in the world today. This program was co-sponsored with the Catholic Studies Department of Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Diabetes Boot Camp

The team from the Diabetes Center of Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, Torrington, CT.
Left to right: Glenell Morris, Egils Bogdonivics, MD, Lois Pelletier, Karen Cornell, Christine Pinette.

The 5th Diabetes Boot Camp held at Wisdom House shows how diet and exercise aid in control of diabetes.  For more information, call the Diabetes Center of Charlotte Hungerford Hospital at 860-489-0661.

Below, participants use the exercise rowing machines.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Sometimes nature weaves a tangled web.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Praying with Our Hands

Many traditions teach that the body mediates the spirit.  Hands, in particular, can express invitation, rejection, consolation, disdain; hands can send a curse or a blessing.  In our hands, prayer and intention become visible.

Author Jon Sweeney is one of the presenters at the Casagrande Interfaith Institute at Wisdom House
on October 28-30, 2011.  The theme of the Institute is "Prayer" in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions. Visit The Wisdom House Program Calendar for Interfaith Institute information.

An interview on Jon Sweeney's book, "Praying with Our Hands" was recorded in Hartford for WRCH 100.5 FM radio.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nature's Necklace

On an early fall morning at Wisdom House, nature sports a most delicate necklace.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's Still Early Enough to Remember

September Meditation

I do not know if the seasons remember their history or if the days and nights by which we count time remember their own passing.

I do not know if the oak tree remembers its planting or if the pine remembers its slow climb toward sun and stars.

I do not know if the squirrel remembers last fall's gathering or if the Blue jay remembers the meaning of snow.

I do not know if the air remembers September or if the night remembers the moon.

I do not know if the earth remembers the flowers from last spring or if the evergreen remembers that it shall stay so.

Perhaps that is the reason for our births -- to be the memory for creation.

Perhaps salvation is something very different than anyone ever expected.

Perhaps this will be the only question we will have to answer:

"What can you tell me about September?"

~ Burton D. Carley ~

(1997 UUMA Worship Materials Collection; contributed by Bob Freund)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wisdom Homily

Following is an unedited homily submitted to “Faith Catholic,” Michigan. It is based on these scripture readings used in the liturgy of the Catholic Church:
1)  Wisdom 7:22b-8:1
2)  Luke 17:20-25                         

            What is Wisdom?  We can try to describe Wisdom from observing people we know to be wise.  People who make decisions that require deep discernment are said to be wise; people with good judgment or learning are also said to be wise.  In today's scripture from the Book of Wisdom, we are given an inspired teaching about Wisdom – not Wisdom as a "thing," but Wisdom as Divinity itself.  We ask not "what" is Wisdom but "who" is Wisdom.  The scripture answers us.

The section from the Book of Wisdom in this text is a very important revelation in view of our understanding of the world, the universe and all living beings.  Wisdom is a spirit who pervades all things and penetrates all that exists.  Wisdom is a reflection of God and image of God's goodness.  Wisdom is one with God and is identified with God.  The spirit of Wisdom is a godly spirit and exists in everything that God created through Wisdom. 

What this is saying is very humbling for us.  The divine life of God, from the first moment of creation, has been infused into all life.  Whether we consider the life of the universe, the vast cosmos, our planet, plant life, animal and human life, we have to accept the reality that the spirit of Wisdom and the life of God are in everything and everyone.  Pope Benedict XVI, in his Easter vigil homily, earlier this year (2011), reminded us of the Creed, "We believe in God…Creator of heaven and earth."  "If we omit the beginning of the Credo, the whole history of salvation becomes too limited and too small.  The church brings us into contact with God and thus with the source of all things.  Therefore we relate to God as creator and so we have a responsibility for creation.  Our responsibility extends as far as creation because it comes from the Creator."  As scripture says, "Wisdom penetrates and pervades all things…"  We need to open our eyes to see the living presence of Wisdom, of God, in everything.

The Gospel confirms that we need new eyes to be able to see God's presence, God's kingdom all around us.  "No one is going to announce, Look, here is the [Kingdom] or there it is.  For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you."  We are cautioned again:  "Do not go off, do not run in pursuit" – The Kingdom of God is in our midst.  May God's Divine Wisdom fill us, opening our eyes and hearts to perceive the living Wisdom God in our midst.  May God give us the conviction to take responsibility and care for the life of all that God has created.         

Rosemarie Greco, DW

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

David Darling performs at Wisdom House

Grammy Award winner David Darling performs a cello improvisation at the 9-11 Observance at Wisdom House. Visit

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jewish Fall Holy Days

We Jews are in the early weeks of our fall holy day period. There are three parts to this season that are of spiritual interest: Selichot, Yamim Noraim, and Sukkot.

The month of Elul is the final month of the Jewish liturgical calendar, and is devoted to the practice of seeking forgiveness. While Jews do teach about the importance of forgiving others, our primary focus is on asking others to forgive us.

When we ask forgiveness we humble ourselves, and when we humble ourselves over the hurts we have caused others, we are more willing to forgive the hurts others have caused us. Throughout the month of Elul and even more intensely during the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe from Rosh haShanah to Yom Kippur) we approach those family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others in our community with whom we interact and say, “If I have hurt you in any way knowingly or unknowingly, advertantly or inadvertently, I ask your forgiveness.”

What if the other person refuses to forgive us? We must ask again. How many times must we ask? While Jesus said we must ask 490 times (7 x 70, Matthew 18:22), our rabbis capped it at three. If after sincerely asking forgiveness three times the other still refuses, God will forgive you, and the matter, at least as far as you are concerned is settled.

Rosh haShanah, the first of the Days of Awe, is the anniversary of creation, and our time to honor God, the Source of Creation. (This year Rosh haShanah begins at sundown on September 28th) For me God is the Source and Substance of all reality, and Rosh haShanah is the time when I remember that all life is a unique yet temporary manifestation of God the way each ray of sunlight is a unique and temporary manifestation of the sun. I use Rosh haShanah as a time to realign my life with creation so that my living is in service to all life.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (At-One-ment, October 7th at sundown) is the culmination of all this effort. We have made peace with our neighbor, now it is time to make peace with God. For me, making peace with God is about remembering that God isn’t about salvation or damnation, reward or punishment. God is about reality for God is reality. I make people with God by realizing that life is wild, unpredictable, often horrifying, and yet always hopeful. I remind myself to not expect things to be other than they are, and to be thankful for all that they are. With this act of radical acceptance comes radical forgiveness, and, for me, this is what Yom Kippur is all about.

A few days after Yom Kippur we celebrate Sukkot (October 12th at sundown), our holy weekcelebrating the fall harvest. We build flimsy huts to symbolize the nomadic origins of our people, our wanderings in Sinai, and the huts used to shelter the harvesters and store what is harvested. We decorate these booths (sukkah/sukkot, plural) with fruit, give thanks for the earth’s bounty in a ceremony of waving lulav (a palm front bound with myrtle and willow branches) and etrog (fruit of a citron tree) in all directions, study the Book of Ecclesiastes, and dwell in the sukkah, sharing meals with friends, for the entire week.

The sukkah reminds us of the fragility of life. The harvest decorations remind us of the power of fertility even in the midst of fragility. Eating with friends reminds us that friendship isbest way to manage life’s chaos. And studying Ecclesiastes links all of this to a way of life: eating and drinking in moderation, finding meaningful work, and cultivating strong friendships.

This is a challenging season for Jews both logistically and spiritually. There is lots to do, and much to ponder. And while the doing may be for Jews, the pondering is a good idea for everyone.

Rabbi Rami

{Rabbi Rami is a long time friend of Wisdom House and author of both Ecclesiastes, Annotated and Explained, and a contemporary rendering of Love of Eternal Wisdom}

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP, reads her poem composed for 9/11 Observance at Wisdom House.

Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP, reciting September 11th remembrance poem


In the city Walt Whitman called,

 “City of hurried and sparkling waters!

      City of spires and masts!

City nestled in bays! My city!”

        They were born twins,

  And unexpectedly died together.

      Untimely many would say.

On that land, one of the first original 13,

     called  “Keystone” even until this day,

A field made to be ploughed

    Had the unfulfilled hopes

                 of 58 souls

           Planted in its soil.

Then, there was the place

    Defined and designed by geometry;

A place whose angles held

     Secrets supposedly


Secure was that day

    In September,

Sun-filled, mild-mannered

        In its dawning.

Before mid-morning

     Day became nightmare,

Chaos reigned supreme

   And dust was a veil

That hung over the face of the City.

That day, more than names

    were listed as lost.

That day, futures were frozen in time.

    Nothing could move forward.

That day belief was a sign,

   Hung around our necks

With the simple message –

      “For Sale.”

Bent steel bent lives

   Into new shapes.

We were placed into a furnace

   Of transformation.

We were too surprised to make

    a rational decision.

We were never given the chance to choose.

Ten years on, though,

       we can choose.

We cannot change the past,

     But we must change

                          the present.

We can choose not to be among

   The living dead.

We can choose not to run away

   From pain.

We can choose to sit down with it

            For afternoon tea

   To share the stories that make us who we are.

  True stories change lives

   When they are given away.

Friends, let us walk through

    The remainder of the

              Days given to us,

Not side-stepping pain or

    Underestimating the

             The presence of joy.

What we know, can’t be taken from us –

  We now know more deeply than ever,


All the world – all of life

              Is kindling for revelation.

Friends, stack it high,

   Build it well,

And let us start a new fire

   For clarity, for gratitude,

      For life!

                                                Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP

                                                     September 11, 2011