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From Spices to Spirituality

As I start my 20th year as your Cantor, I would like to share with you one major way I have grown (dramatically) since I started. In my first couple of years as your cantor, I would come to the office with an Iced Carmel Macchiato and a Blueberry Scone or Blueberry Muffin. My diet could have been described as “the American diet.”  I am not sure how I survived the sugar levels of these choices, but it was one I made until I turned 40. I will be turning 50 in February. But my shift in diet at 40 was because I suffered from many digestive issues and I was in pain. They called it IBS, and I will identify it as the “Jewish Belly.”

I went to many doctors who handed me many diets, and they suggested foods I should be eating. I felt overwhelmed by the stream of advice I was given- “this food is good, and the same food is bad.” It wasn’t until I became a yoga teacher and an Ayurvedic practitioner that I realized it was less about the food, than it was, when and how I ate the food. Suddenly the lists of the foods on certain diets (like the LoFod Map) started making sense to me. For example, while raw foods are hard to digest, they may be easier between 10am-2pm because our digestive fire is higher.  I never thought about the way food was prepared, that I was ingesting “fast” energy when I would eat “fast” food, or “stale” energy with less fresh foods. The examples are endless, but how these pieces fell into place for me, led me to healing around digestion.

Years later when we found out that our daughter Aria had Crohn’s Disease, I wanted to fix it for her as I had “healed” my own challenges. The challenges were great, and over the last 5 years I have grown to understand just how powerful food is as medicine, especially since the top medications have not aligned with her system. I have become passionate about how I prepare, serve and heal with food in my own kitchen. Food CAN heal. I am constantly amazed by how a food looks and how the healing matches the food. A banana is one of the most powerful foods in our kitchen- it looks pretty healing too when you think about it.  

Over the last few months, with a small group of congregants I have been thinking about how I can give back to you all that I have learned about how the spices and the spiritual blend- how I could teach you that the spices in the Torah, the way we bless food, and the order in which we eat is adding to our own healing. Being in touch with our physical selves can remind us every day that our bodies are constantly helping us heal.   

As a first step to this spirituality, I along with those who love our kitchen so deeply, are helping us uncover the holiness in that space. We’ve been organizing and cleaning everything so there will be space for us to learn and grow and to be nurtured through food, through spices, through conversation, and learning.  

Please join me in the ‘KI’tchen! RSVP to CARYLTLEVIN@GMAIL.COM

May our 20th year together be filled with holiness, happiness and wholeness!