Complementary and alternative modes of healing were on the menu at a scholar-in-residence program in Buffalo from March 19-20. The Institute for Liberal Jewish Studies sponsored Rabbi Benjamin (Jamie) Arnold in several events concerning spiritual factors in healing.
Temple Sinai, where Rabbi Arnold served prior to his move to Congregation Beth Evergreen in Colorado, Temple Beth Zion, Temple Beth Am, and Congregation Havurah worked together to plan and host the events.
The theme for the weekend was “Jewish Music, Communal Connection and Spiritual Healing.” In his compilation of songs and readings, Rabbi Arnold drew on both ancient and modern texts, songs accompanied by guitars and drum, and stories about healing. A luncheon and final evening service on Saturday provided additional occasions for prayer and participation.
His wide-ranging discussion covered a passage in the book of Samuel as well as one in a book by a Japanese original thinker, Dr. Masaru Emoto. In the first, Rabbi Arnold discussed the value of music played by David when Saul was suffering, and what that suffering might have been in today’s terms.
Using a passage in Dr. Emoto’s book, WATER CRYSTAL HEALING, Rabbi Arnold talked about the vibrations that music creates. Dr. Emoto’s concept is that music may not only be pleasant to listen to but may also facilitate actual changes in cells.
Rabbi Arnold’s presentations underscored the value of participation, inspiration, and community as well as consciousness in healing. A discussion of the tendency toward harmony in nature and an analysis of the Hebrew prayer for healing, Mi Shebeirach, were on the agenda. The value of reciprocal assistance in healing was explored as well.
Rabbi Arnold’s stories talked about not only illness but also accidents, one based on a broken leg he suffered when snow sports sent him into a tree. The injury took more time to heal than would have been thought likely, and he wondered wryly if he was supposed to learn about balance from it.
The program also remembered Cantor Susan Wehle, who died in the crash of flight 3407 in Clarence on February 12, 2009, and who had been the cantor at Temple Beth Am.