• 614-592-9593
  • rabbiJshimberg@gmail.com
  • Nashville, Tennessee

HoldingtheFringes

Gathering ... Blessing ... Lifting Up the Sacred

Rabbi Jessica Shimberg is a Jewish ritual artist serving spiritual seekers and the religiously skeptical with equal enthusiasm.  She is a teacher (rabbi means teacher), prayer leader, spiritual guide, trusted pastoral presence, social and environmental justice activist, and lifecycle doula, assisting and accompanying  individuals, couples, and families as they transition and transform across the many sacred thresholds of life.

 

Rabbi Shimberg’s ritual artistry and wisdom flow from a variety of sources including:

– her long love affair with Jewish music and prayer practices, poetry and prose,

– her passion for the natural world and its cycles,

– her deep appreciation of other wisdom traditions,

– her ability to find the sacred within the ordinary,

– her love of human interaction and community building,

– her commitment to spiritual nourishment,

– her lived experience navigating the intersection of secular and religious practices,

– her belief that curiosity, questioning, creativity and innovation have been and remain essential to Judaism,

– her natural exuberance and enthusiasm for life and living, and

– her genuine desire to engage and activate opportunities to elevate holiness in our world.

 

Rabbi Jessica’s ability to make religious tradition come alive and to design innovative approaches to life-cycle ritual for people of varying interests, backgrounds, orientations, styles of learning, and ages has been recognized as a priceless gift to individuals and families who engage her services.

Rabbi Shimberg is a trusted ritual artist, guiding individuals, couples, and families as they navigate the journey toward and through a sacred event and into the future. Ritual assists us in attuning to the sacred within ourselves, others, and the world, while creating shared memories to last a lifetime. 

Rabbi Shimberg is joyfully committed to expansive involvement of Jewish-adjacent loved ones in lifecycle ritual.

Rabbi Shimberg is a popular teacher and facilitator in interfaith and Jewish settings, balancing the spiritual and the scholarly and employing the Talmudic gifts of questioning, valuing multiple viewpoints, and holding the tension of conflicting truths based on perspective and experience. Her enthusiasm for ritual and the sacred rhythms of Jewish time and the Earth, cultivates deeper connection to Judaism’s treasury of holidays and prayer. 

Rabbi Shimberg utilizes multiple modalities including music, prayer, meditation, movement, and art, as fertile ground for sacred connection. The communal experiences she provides expand awareness of ancient text and wisdom and the growing edges of Jewish sacred practices. She inspires connection between prayer and the active engagement of our values in public spaces and in our homes.

Life is complex and sometimes we may lose sight of that which illuminates a pathway through challenging circumstances. In addition to physical and mental health services, pastoral care can serve a deeply nourishing role. 

Rabbi Shimberg can be engaged to support your journey, as a comforting presence, a guide for accessing the Sacred in the world, or assisting you in cultivating relationship with your own sacredness.

Sefirat haOmer ~ A Counting of Days and Weeks from Pesach to Shavuot

Each year we have the opportunity to count the Omer ~ a counting of the span of time ~ seven weeks of seven days + One ~ from the second day of Passover (redemption) to Shavuot (revelation). In ancient times, Pesach and Shavuot were two of the three pilgrimage festivals (Sukkot is the third), when people brought the best of their harvest and bounty of the Land to the Sacred Source (at that time they connected with the Source at The Temple in Jerusalem). According to Torah (Vayikra/Leviticus 23:15-16), we are to count the omer (an ancient measure of grain) from Passover, the Festival of Freedom (Chag haMatzot/Holiday of Unleavened Bread in our liturgy) to Shavuot (Weeks), from the barley harvest to the wheat harvest and, ultimately, to the first offering on Shavuot itself of wheat from the new harvest, in the form of 12 loaves. In ancient times, barley from each week would be brought into the Temple and waved as an offering, really as a prayer that the harvest would come in successfully. 
This mitzvah of sephirat/counting the Omer, was imbued with deeper spiritual meaning by the Kabbalists, from the middle ages to modern times, by connecting the qualities of the seven lower sephirot (the emanations of the Sacred in our world and in ourselves as sacred energy) with the seven weeks and seven days.  
Every night during the Omer we recite a blessing for doing and then say the count (number of days and weeks) which leads us from Passover to Shavuot. 
The Omer count is made starting the evening of each day – when the count happens at night the blessing is said and when the count happens during the daytime the blessing is not said. After the blessing the day is counted by absolute number and then by its number within each week, for example, “Today is the thirty-third day of the Omer, which is four weeks and five days.” (which would be Lag Ba’omer (lamed plus gimel, ל + ג = 33), by the way). 
The challenge of counting the Omer is that it is one long mitzvah lasting 49 days. Thus, if you go one whole night and day without counting, the halakhah (Jewish law or structure for doing mitzvot, in this case) is to no longer say the blessing. "Making it all the way through seven weeks without missing a day is not easy for most of us! Hence, the proliferation of calendars, websites, and apps for counting the Omer," says my friend, Rabbi David Seidenberg, creator of the app I use. You can find him and his app and many other valuable teachings at neohasid.org.

How Crafting Natural Beeswax Havdalah Candles Became "My Thing" ~

Jewish ritual is a personal portal for activating transformative presence and attention. I have always loved sharing this with others. When we are open and receptive to what ritual can awaken within us, our muscle for appreciation grows. Growing up, my family engaged in meaningful weekly rituals to begin Shabbat with candlelight, wine, challah, and a lovely meal at a beautifully set table. However, ending the weekly gift of Shabbat received no attention. As a big fan of ritual, I began incorporating Havdalah into my personal home-based spiritual practices well into my adult years. Often, it was only me and my dog, Melody, who participated in making this multi-sensory distinction (havdalah) between a sacred rest (Shabbat) and the creativity and routine of the other six days of each week. 

When I scoured the internet for candles that would jive with my eco-conscious values and habits, however, I found nothing suitable. Finding no existing source for 100% natural beeswax Havdalah candles to purchase, I investigated how I might braid my own candles. I found a supplier of 100% natural beeswax tapers with cotton wicks and ordered a few dozen tapers. Using the sun’s warmth to soften the wax, I began experimenting with designs and found the process soothing in the same way that kneading and braiding challah dough calms and focuses me. Using my hands creatively and chanting nigunim (Jewish melodies) allowed me to release tensions and focus on beauty. Surrounded by herbs on my patio, I played with braiding different herbs into these ritual candles which already have a lovely fragrance of their own. I began gifting my candles to friends and congregants and was encouraged to sell them on Etsy. #HavdalahHappiness has become a wonderful way to share with others my delight at illuminating moments of transition.

In the warmth of late spring through early autumn,

I am available to bring Havdalah Happiness to your

  • community,
  • summer camp,
  • youth group,
  • congregation, 
  • organization.

Please contact me to make arrangements to bring #HavdalahHappiness your way.

Testimonials

"During the Bar Mitzvah service, you did such a wonderful job explaining what we were doing and providing context and comfort to our family and friends that we are still hearing how wonderful it was many months later.
You made everyone feel welcome and engaged [...] as you led all of us on such a spiritual journey. You created a special community out of a random assortment of our family and friends, which was one of the most powerful things."
Karen S.
Mother of Noah & Max
“Your presence and attention to so many ritual moments we might have missed made our wedding ceremony so much more meaningful. Far more than being an “officiant” on our wedding day, you helped us (long before our wedding) to consider the values and desires at the core of our relationship. You honored both of our religious traditions and family customs and worked with us to incorporate these into our ceremony. Because of your guidance and attention, our wedding felt sacred and the process you took us through helps us as our relationship grows and our circumstances change. We feel like we can turn to you as a valued confidante and friend. Thank you.”
Danielle & Jesse
Beloveds
“My wife and I were immediately impressed with Rabbi Jessica’s warmth and intelligence and her understanding that, for us, defining our Judaism is an evolving and challenging journey. We were thrilled to have Rabbi Jessica create and lead a beautiful brit bat ceremony for our daughter when she born. The way she welcomed our entire family and circle of friends and engaged all four generations of our family made that day one I will cherish forever.”
Segev P.
Father of two