Sarah Tasman returns home, talks creativity at AJ, Spirit of Sophia

Rabbi Sarah Tasman

For Rabbi Sarah Tasman, Judaism is all about creativity.
“When I use the word creativity, I’m using it as an umbrella term for creative expression, creative prayer,” the Louisville native said. “To me, creativity is a really expansive way to think about the abundance in Judaism; there is an abundance of ways we can connect with Judaism and express ourselves.”
Tasman, who now lives in Washington, D.C., has made creative expression the thrust of her rabbinate. She has even founded an organization that promotes the idea – The Tasman Center for Jewish Creativity.
Tasman will expound on her work when she speaks during Adath Jeshurun’s Shabbat service on Saturday, Nov. 23, addressing the subject, “Take Your Time: Marking Life Transitions.” Afterwards, she will be the lunchtime Shabbat Scholar, discussing “Creativity on Trends in Jewish Engagement: Responding to New Needs of Jewish Community.”
Tasman also will appear on Sunday, Nov. 24, from 2 to 5 p.m., at Spirit of Sophia, at St. Matthews Episcopal Church, 330 N. Hubbards Lane. Her subject will be “Living in Alignment with Cycles.”
Ordained By Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, in 2012, Tasman, who describes herself as a “transdenominational” rabbi, said creativity is at the core of the school’s curriculum.
Hebrew College, which is not affiliated with any denomination, encourages its students “to engage, to think deeply and creatively, to find their own Jewish practices,” according to its online mission statement.
“Judaism has always been a creative religion,” Tasman said. “It’s not anything to replace traditional Judaism or traditional Jewish life, but is a way of seeing Judaism as a creative endeavor.”
At her center, she works with people to create ritual, marking periods in their lives they have come through or are about to enter.
“A number of people I have worked with may be in the last third of their lives,” she said. “Maybe they’re getting ready for retirement, downsizing moving out the home they have lived in for much of their lives.
“I work with them to create a ritual to mark that trend,” she continued, “because it’s not a trend that we have a big communal lifecycle event for.”
For example, she worked with one woman, who loved gardening and poetry, to mark a transition from her home. Tasman created a ritual for using water in her garden, pouring water over the woman’s hands, on to the ground. The woman then read poems she had written for the occasion.
“And I wrote a blessing for her to honor all the emotions she was experiencing,” the rabbi said, “to savor anything she wanted to savor, but also to let go of anything she needed to let go of so she would be ready to move into this phase of her life.”
She also works with younger families.
“I work with a lot of wedding couples and families for baby-namings. Most don’t belong to a synagogue and are in the stage of their lives where they’re not ready to join a synagogue yet, but they want the connection and support of a rabbi.”
Calling herself a “community rabbi,” she conducts workshops, retreats, spiritual coaching and private spiritual support. Her work includes many modes of Jewish expression, including writing, visual art, mixed-media art, meditation, yoga, poetry, rabbinic and modern texts and participant offerings.
She sees herself as a “resource” for people helping them to connect to synagogues, Js, classes or organizations – whatever they are ready for.
The daughter of Dr. Allan and Cathy Tasman, Tasman, who decided at age 12 to become a rabbi, grew up at The Temple, and was active in summer camp and regional youth groups.
“I’ve always loved Judaism,” she said, “and the myriad of ways to connect to Jewish life.”

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