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About Holding the Fringes …

... naming is important because we speak the world into being.*

“Holding the Fringes” has an important double meaning to me:

Jewish wisdom tradition provides unique customs to assist us in creating sacred time and space, weaving deep connections, and designing opportunities to spark memory. Rituals and objects can enhance our ability to perceive life’s sanctity. A tallit (prayer shawl) is a sacred device, worn by many Jews while we pray in the mornings and at other special times, inviting us into relationship with the cosmic Sacred that we call by many names. When we gather the fringes (tzitzit) at the four corners of the tallit, we symbolically unite the four corners of the Earth — those places that are most disparate — bringing them together in our hands. Holding the knots and twists of the tzitzit between our fingers, we grasp an ancient ritual technology that can open a portal linking us to our ancestors, our children’s children, the deepest recesses of our inner being, and the unity of all creation. The symbolic energy of the tallit is utilized in lifecycle rituals including weddings, baby namings and britot milah, b’nei mitzvah, and funerals. When we wrap ourselves in the fringes, we recite a mitzvah blessing and pull the fabric around ourselves, activating our own personal mishkan/tabernacle of sacredness.

I chose to “name” the sacred work I do in this world “Holding the Fringes.” The opportunity to help others create space is what defines my rabbinic calling — activating, supporting, nourishing, and regularly witnessing the transformative power at the intersection of ancient Jewish practices and the energetic spiritual potential that resides at and in “the fringes.” This is the vibrant growth-edge of Judaism. As our 21st century institutions and rabbis worry about the number of people who do not affiliate with a particular religious tradition or institution, yet who identify as “spiritual,” I am aware of the interest and vitality that exists in these fringes. Whether we identify as spiritual or religious or some combination, most of us have a feeling (often without adequate words) about sacredness that is both imminent (of this world) and transcendent (beyond knowing). This source of blessing, gratitude, and abundance that can both ground us and inspires us to soar is unnamable in Jewish tradition (a tetragrammaton that is meant to be unpronounceable). Our human need to explain and name everything gives rise to many names for that Ineffable Name that some call God.

Continually drawing from both the particularity of Jewish thought and expression and the universality of spiritual nourishment that flows from a variety of natural and religious spaces and experiences, I delight in working with seekers, both the spiritual and skeptical, of meaning and relationship with the world around us. Our fringes are a location of vibrant energy for connection, and it is my honor to assist individuals, families, and groups explore and appreciate the abundance within Jewish tradition and innovation, and to facilitate opportunities to connect to the Sacred Source.

* Torah teaches that the Sacred Source spoke the world into being, and the first earthling named each creature. Kabalah (Jewish mysticism) teaches that letters and words, are the building blocks of creation - channels of Holy Energy into our world. We, as co-creatives with the Divine Mystery, speak the world into being each and every day.

I look forward to speaking with you about how we might work together to meet your particular interests and needs. Please provide me with some basic information so that I can reach out to you to set up an initial consultation. Include a phone number and a good time of day to reach you. I will generally be in touch within 24-36 hours.

Please note that I disconnect, electronically, on Shabbat (from late afternoon on Fridays through Saturday night). And, if your need is emergent (serious illness or death), call or text me, even if it is Shabbat.

I look forward to meeting you and beginning the conversation.

B’vracha ~ in Blessing,

Rabbi Jessica

Contact Rabbi Shimberg


Nashville, TN 37215