Look Within

The act of reflecting inwardly is woven into the very fabric of Jewish observance during this time of the year." Rabbi Samantha Natov inspires us to look inward in the days leading up to the High Holy Days.



“Shame has more power in our lives than many of us realize,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. When we understand shame as vulnerability, “it becomes about being brave and courageous, rather than timid and intimidated.”


Challenging Texts

Rabbi Samantha Natov asks: What do we do with a narrative that does not resonate with our values? “If we skip over what is most violent, painful, or repulsive to us, we are denying the truth of human experience.”


Tisha B’Av: A Season of Soul Searching Begins

Tisha B’Av, which means the “Ninth of Av,” refers to the traditional communal day of mourning. Our Tisha B’Av services will take place Monday, July 31, at 6 p.m. Here, Rabbi Samantha Natov, an associate rabbi at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, reflects on this solemn holiday. 

We all know that making positive changes in our lives takes dedication and time. The Jewish calendar has a built-in timeline for this process. It starts with Tisha B’Av.

Tisha B’Av is the low point on our Jewish calendar. It is the day set aside for communal mourning. Traditionally, we fast and reflect on the disasters that our people have come through, including the destruction of both temples, the expulsion from Spain, the Shoah, and more.

We meditate on what we can personally do to help repair the world — whether it’s apologizing to those we have hurt, or committing ourselves to doing something that will benefit others. It’s the time to start the soul searching that leads to a personal cleansing and fresh beginning, so that when we come to the High Holy Days, we are not at the beginning of the process of teshuvah (repentance), but at its culmination. The High Holy Days become a final expression of our renewed commitment to live in ways that reflect our deepest values.

Tisha B’Av is a day of sorrow, yet it leads to hope for the future as we reflect on how we can be a part of bringing in better days.


    Cultivating Hope

    Rabbi Samantha Natov calls on us to “exercise hope” by embracing the Jewish values of community, positive thinking, and social justice.