About Me

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Joy Serves G*d in Joy as a passionate performing percussionist, poet, publisher, photographer, publicist, sound healer, spiritual guide, artist, gardener and Gemini. "Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha" -Psalm 100:2 ....... Joy Krauthammer, active in the Jewish Renewal, Feminist, and neo-Chasidic worlds for over three decades, kabbalistically leads Jewish women's life-cycle rituals. ... Workshops, and Bands are available for all Shuls, Sisterhoods, Rosh Chodeshes, Retreats, Concerts, Conferences & Festivals. ... My kavanah/intention is that my creative expressive gifts are inspirational, uplifting and joyous. In gratitude, I love doing mitzvot/good deeds, and connecting people in joy. In the zechut/merit of Reb Shlomo Carlebach, zt'l, I mamash love to help make our universe a smaller world, one REVEALING more spiritual consciousness, connection, compassion, and chesed/lovingkindness; to make visible the Face of the Divine... VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE and enjoy all offerings.... For BOOKINGS write: joyofwisdom1 at gmail.com, leave a COMMENT below, or call me. ... "Don't Postpone Joy" bear photo montage by Joy. Click to enlarge. BlesSings, Joy

Serve G*d With Joy

Ivdu Et HaShem B'Simcha
Joy Krauthammer ©

Breed Street Shul

Breed Street Shul and Rabbi Mordechai Ganzweig

 - Joy Krauthammer

Enjoy these 4 photos.

Yesterday (after admitting her, and then immediately taking my sister (Tzipora bat Leba) home from the hospital because her broken foot surgery is postponed for 1 more day, 8.21) I received an unexpected wonderful uplifting call. A young rabbi from Lakewood, N.J. called to say he discovered a photo of his beloved father, z”l, and my name, date, and phone were written on back.  Thirty years later, my number is unchanged and I was home to get phone call. I had chills hearing his name and this call. 

The son Yisroel had just commemorated the 14th yahrzeit, 16 Av, of his beloved father, Rabbi Mordechai Ganzweig, z”l.  Rabbi Ganzweig died at age 49 in 2000. I had read about the memorial in LA's Hillygram, and after 30 years was thinking about this rabbi who had brought much pleasure to the Jewish community that I'd brought to him in busloads.

When I ran "Joy’s Jewish Art Tours of LA" in the early 1980’s, the primary place (out of many stops) I took my busloads of  guests, was to the historic Breed Street Shul where Rabbi GANZWEIG would welcome us all into his shul (along with the elderly caring shomer Mr. Cohen). There was no longer a minyan at this Boyle Heights synagogue, the oldest functioning synagogue in LA. 

I had photographed Rabbi Ganzweig as he shared personally with us all, the story of the shul and its magnificence. The shul was filled with Hiddur Mitzvah, beautification of ritual objects. The stained glass windows were renowned.

TODAY there is a tour at American Jewish University of the Rare Books Exhibition on Pirkei Avot. The books are from the collection of a prior rabbi at Breed Street Shul. Such a coincidence. My photographs accompany this exhibit.  The exhibit has run since May and ends this week. I missed the artists’ reception, so tonight I hope to see my own enlarged photographs on view at the exhibit (which I would have missed if sister was in hospital).

One photo is of the Breed Street Shul, Congregation Talmud Torah. It was the very first time I had photographed a shul. What I had not even known at that time, was that it was my own paternal grandfather’s, z”l, shul. He had died before I’d ever taken my first plane ride, and I’d never met him. His elderly rebbetzin Zilberstein told me that she remembered my grandfather. (That's a whole other story.)  I photographed his empty chair.  In a darkroom, I had developed and enlarged the black/white photos. 

Yisroel Avigdor Ganzweig discovered a photo of his father in his shul. I had sent my only photo to the shul's rabbi, and now I see it again because Yisroel has quickly sent it to me. I've removed ageing spots and crack lines from the photo, and returned it digitally to the son. As a young boy, Yisroel used to accompany his father to the Sunday tours.  I am so very happy, and so is the son to have made this connection. 

The LA Jewish Historical Society’s president Pauline Hirsch, z”l, in the 1980’s called me. (She knew me from the Jewish Federation and the arts world.) Pauline asked me, “Joy, I see in the press that you run tours to the Breed Street Shul”.  How is that possible? Even I can’t get into the shul. I want to take groups there.” I joyously shared the phone number of Rabbi Mordechai Ganzweig, and for the first time, after my personal bus tours, official tours went regularly to the Breed Street Shul. The tours still through the Jewish Historical Society, take people to this Cultural Historical monument. 

The Chairs and Shtenders photo has also been exhibited at the Exodus Festival, and also at the Jewish Federation accompanying an exhibit years ago of Breed Street Shul furniture. My photo was gifted to their permanent collection.

I am thrilled that Rabbi Ganzweig’s son has the photo of his beloved father leading a tour of his Breed Streed Shul, and that he called to tell me. 
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My Grandfather's Empty Chair
Breed Street Shul
© Joy Krauthammer 

Mogen Dovid
Breed Street Shul
© Joy Krauthammer 

Pirkei Avot exhibit, Rare Books Collection
American Jewish University  May - August 2014
© Joy Krauthammer 

Breed Street Shul photo (1980's) in exhibition of Rare Books from Breed Street Shul at American Jewish University. Last night the librarian Jackie Ben Efraim toured a synagogue through the secured private collection and Pirkei Avot v'Imahot exhibit. Directly behind framed photo in locked glassed room are OLD bibles from 1500's!

(Photo was from my darkroom days.) See Shul story:

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- Joy Krauthammer 

Based on my sadness from loss, which all chevre share from death of Reb David Zeller, z"l, I designed a memorial card, MEMORY FLAME. As soon as Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi shared the saddest news with chevre who were with him last year on Shavuot, I realized I needed to have this card for those of us grieving.

In the center of the Ohr (flame painting I made following a meditation on the Holy Temple), is a glitter gem stone embellished Magen Dovid-shaped lotus flower, a water lily. I thought Reb Dovid would appreciate this flower from his days as a Buddhist Sadhu in India. The lily / sosannim is found in Old Testament in Psalms and sometimes translated by musicologists as "testimony."  Do you see inside the other blue Magen Dovid, is a blue heart?

Enjoy both sides of my Memory Flame card.


Grateful that digital graphic designer, Joe Rudy, helped me with layout and fonts for Memory Flame.
by Joy Krauthammer ©

Yiskor was fast approaching at the Elat Chayyim country retreat center, and there were no memorial candles visible to remember my husband, z"l, thus in my mind I visualized a virtual flame. Hours later this Memory Flame card was mindfully manifested.

The Yiskor teaching was given to us on Shavuot 2007 by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. "In memory of loved ones, in each direction, to and from your loved one, z'l, giving and receiving, 'feel Forgiveness, Gratitude, Compassion and Love.' Hold your beloved's hand in your hand."

In locations where candles may not be lit for safety reasons, and in ritual, I and others have used the little Memorial Flame card with my Ohr, flame painting. In all these colors of Ohr "do I see the light" of Reb Zeller. Maybe Reb Zeller's, widow now has the circular double-sided engraved, bronze medallion pendant that I gave to Reb Zeller with these words in Hebrew and English, "In Your Light Do We See Light" (surrounding a Menorah) that he loved to teach and sing. At the Jung Institute, Reb Zeller saw pendant hanging on my neck, liked it, and I immediately removed it and gifted the pendant to him, feeling so good that I could give my Rebbe something he appreciated. On the other side of the pendant, surrounding a Tree of Life, is written, "The Compassionate One Seeks the Heart..."

May Reb Zeller's neshama/ soul be blessed and have a speedy and high aliyah / going up to Shamayim / heaven.

Joy Krauthammer
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Sunrise Photography Meditation

 "It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” - Henry David Thoreau

Sunrise Photography Meditation

- Joy Krauthammer  1.27.14

"I see Your Face in All Nature that I photograph." - Joy Krauthammer, artist of Light

Photographing the daily sunrise is my hour-long morning meditation beginning around 6 AM. Connection with the Holy One, Painter of the morning, Creator of All, is my consciousness.  Prayers I say mindfully with inner peace, as I slowly wait in the dark and as light appears.  There are no other thoughts but gratitude. My patience is rewarded and every morning, alone, I quietly observe and witness the birth of a new day.

The air sometimes feels and smells like a Florida ocean. After I have calmly walked the far distance of my back yard to be closer to where the sun will rise, the earth and cement ground may be cold to my bare feet. For protection, I may go back inside for my comfy Birkenstock sandals, or thin-soled, worn, red water-proof shoes.  The air sometimes feels and smells like a Florida ocean. If really cool outside, I may go back inside for a jacket or robe over my pajamas. Once again outside at edge of property, I am careful not to fall down the unfenced steep eastern slope. Sometimes feeling heavy winds, I have to hold tightly onto the fence, so not to be blown away while photographing.

While still dark, as light appears, I await the colors that will cover the Valley horizon, and spread across the mountains, Verdugo, and San Gabriel, and at times further to the south to Santa Monica.  View of the Santa Susana Mountains on the north, are blocked by the hillside and higher placed houses, north of me.

I concentrate on the stillness and silence, unless sounds and wind are present. Decades ago I could hear horses, rooster, or a train. Sounds of Mockingbirds in song, or honking geese flying overhead, or even the sharp Hummingbird sounds, always delight me. The Hummer sits for a long time on the high top of the Fig tree's winter barren branch. The Mockingbird perches on the top highest limb of the huge Pyracantha bush growing on north side of up slope. At times the Mockingbird and Hummer change positions.  When the sun color reflects on the belly of the Mockingbird, her chest is golden.  To view this beautiful vision, I stand amongst the artichoke plants, by the precarious unprotected east edge of garden.

Mountains may be clear and crisp, and distant buildings' lights visible on the mountainside many miles away, or clouded by layers of fog, or in the past by dirty brown smog.  At times, the landscape appears as a misty Asian painting with trees disappearing into the distance.

Colors may be soft and dusty.  Before the sun is visible there can be sharp orange or red, and maybe even purple color appearing in all forms, streaks, and positions. The color may be high in the sky, but rarely appearing overhead.  Depending on cloud formations, the sky may be intense with color reflecting and radiating on the clouds. Clouds move and transform before my eyes.  I'm in awe of all I see. I become completely absorbed in the magic before me. Every moment present, I am delighted and thrilled by the majesty of G*d's pallet of painting, exposed before me.

There may be blue sky overhead as southwest colored pale soft orange and browns first appear on horizon.  From several miles away, as a landmark, I can see the light grey smoke stack fumes from a beer factory. I can see planes using a local Valley airport. I don't appreciate the white lines in sky left by planes.

I stand for a long time and say my prayers. I am absorbed in my focus of the image I concentrate on--the view to the east facing Jerusalem. I am immersed in the present moment.

The fence that has recently been cleared of years of old vines again gives birth to green newness. It has become an object to reflect the rising red sunlight and to draw attention to the landscape.  The fence becomes an angled foreground and lines converge, as I compose design, and contrast harshness to the dark distant mountains.  

Receiving light, the top surface of the black wrought iron fence, looks to me with its lines disappearing in the distance, as an inviting pier reaching out into a calm lake. I can lower my body and push my camera in hand through the fence to catch the subtle red on the fence's far side, making photo look like I stood on other side of fence, at top of a steep slope where there is no place to carefully stand.   Depending on whether I stand, squat or sit on the ground, or move an inch in any direction, the same foreground objects take on different dimensions and imaginings.  

As the sun is gently rising, at a point where I may re-position myself, the sun shows up through where there is a long downward curved palm frond that embraces the sun. Timing is critical as I hold my camera level. As the wind blows, the frond smoothly lifts her arm to expose more of the sun's bright yellow, gold or orange glow.  I wonder what will be the behavior of the palm at that moment and I flow with her.  Each sighting last only seconds. I want an artistic photograph.  I don't want the neighbor's early morning bathroom light on, in my photo.

With each breath of wind, I look into the viewfinder, see everything in view, and compose carefully the frame I shoot to catch the glow through the palm frond. If I move to another location, I may catch the sun between Pine trees.  I may focus the sun with the mountains more north, or I may shoot the sun with the more Easterly Mountains.  Nearby tall pines about four decades old, are in the middle of my scene and I don't want them in the middle so I compromise and photograph scenes to either side of the rising run.  A tall thin Cypress breaks the scene with the Pines. I see and realize that I'll crop out much dark foreground or maybe too much sky for the edited photo.  A Panoramic shot can catch about 180* of rising sun landscape.

In order to see more of the NE vision and mountain, I press my body against the fence at the south edge of my property. My back has felt the prickles of Honeysuckle vine 'stickles'.  Later I realize that in the dark I've also backed up against thin tall weeds with yellow flowers that transform to thin sticker thorns like cactus needles-- that pierce my pajamas, and legs. Once inside I must remove dozens, one by one.

As the sun rises on a clear day in the beauty of nature, I love to catch my own orange-colored shadow against the house or on the ground, along with plant shadows. I have fun shooting a 'selfie' following the exhilaration I've felt, after I have been in meditation, and then photographed G*d's glorious sunrise.


Tiferet sh b'Yesod
Kabbalistic Sephirat HaOmer - day 38, 5 weeks and 3 days

Compassion in Bonding

- Joy Krauthammer

Reading in the B'nai Horin newsletter, WHEN GOD IS YOUR THERAPIST, I immediately related to the quotes about "moving from our states or maps of pain to states of maps of joy". Hmm, wonder why. Yet it is true, for me, Joy, because for many years, simplistically, I've been conscious of turning "lemonade into lemons", as others have said publicly about me. Not only lemonade, but transcendence and transformation in a return to joy in Joy.

I'm glad that Rabbi Stan Levy included the NY Times article, "When G*d Is Your Therapist" because I'd never analyzed my life that way, but realize that for me, that concept has certainly been true. I'll share with you:

After my husband, z"l, died over 7 years ago (time does heal), although with friends still a little bit around (they'd done their loyal devoted compassionate, caring and supportive duty at home and hospitals for years when husband was sick, paralyzed, dying and on life-support…) I felt very ALONE. Not lonely, but alone. To prove to myself that I was 'not alone', I made a list of all my friends who were present with me and taped it to the wall adjacent to where I work at home so that I could always see the names and remind myself. I felt ALONE!  For healing grief support, I had a short-term bereavement therapist, beloved local rabbis, and after a few months of constant crying --a local church minister-led grief group (where I was the only person and she kept reminding me that there "is light at the end of the tunnel"), and also a Jewish 'spiritual guide' who blessedly listened in silence to me and my silence or my tears. 

One day, knowing how I felt in deep pain from loss and so ALONE, my Jerusalem Chareidi Rebbe Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen, z"l, said to me, "G*d loves you." From that moment, and I wrote the words also on my wall, I never felt alone because I knew that G*d loved me. How simplistic! And I was "a child of the Universe"; I remembered this from the Desiderata, the scroll from 'sixties college days which to this day, still hangs on wall over my bed! Google it.  (One myth says a Jewish person wrote it.) 

In July 1994 at Elat Chayyim, for the first time-- I had spontaneously proclaimed out loud to Rabbi Marcia Prager that "I love G*d". Until the spring of 2006, I'd never heard that G*d loves me. I share with you that when I feel it appropriate, I have in empathy shared this compassionate statement of love with grieving others.

The 'Therapist' article author, T. M. Luhrmann states, that "tragedy, and prayers that apparently go unanswered, can actually strengthen believers' sense of a bond with G*d."

I also never asked G*d for an explanation as to why I, too, the caregiver and wife, had to suffer along with the patient. I had G*d to call out to, scream out to in my garden, cry out to loudly at night when I tried to go to sleep. And G*d listened. I had the Indwelling Presence of Shekhina hold me in Her arms and envelope me so I could finally fall asleep each night. And as I came to understand, a little bit at a later time, revealed were concealed blesSings; answers to the difficult 'why' questions which I hadn't asked, but had felt the pain.

I "hang out with G*d" a lot in my garden, as I did then, during the difficult years filled with medical trauma and pain. I greet G*d, and converse; That's my vocal "therapeutic dimension". I mamash do love singing in prayer to Hashem. Artistically I photograph G*d daily in my garden, and drum with G*d, and I guess that, too, is therapeutic. G*d loves me. How "theologically simple-minded" is that?

This week during the Counting of the Omer as we refine ourselves and head toward Shavuot and the 50th Gate, we are in the Sephirah week of Yesod. Yesod is not only a foundation, a giving and receiving, nurturing, and a connection--a bonding and devotion with people, but also an eternal bonding with the Compassionate One. 

May you be blessed to know that G*d loves you.

BlesSings for health, wholeness, peace, revealed miracles, creativity, discovery, wonder, blooming gardens, majestic sunrises, sighting birds, love and joy,
"Serve G*d With Joy"


Psalms of My Soul

Sephirat HaOmer day 31
Tiferet sh b'Hod


- Joy Krauthammer

In my hillside home, sitting at my computer, a light catches my eye and I glance toward the right. Through the kitchen window, wonderfully surprised, clearly I see the large, full bright orange moon. I am in awe of its beauty and balance as it hangs alone in the sky. I look over my shoulder, and my heart feels full as I gaze upon the moon, like a magnet, and my fingers continue to type.  Even as I watch it, the orange moon is quickly rising, and turning a brighter lighter shade. 

How many photos can I shoot of this round orange object in the night sky that shows up on all my film as a round shape in the dark sky? 

Almost 20 years ago a friend married another friend. Purposefully for a shidduch / marriage, I had introduced them.  I took a photo of the newly weds kissing at night following the afternoon wedding (where I was honorary Chuppah holder). Consciously I moved my body low so that the full moon would be visible closely over their heads. 

Years later I saw the framed photo on their bedroom dresser and commented on it. My friend questioned me, "But what is that circle over our heads?"  I laughed when I recalled how I had adjusted my body low to catch that very high moving scene. I admired my artistry. 

Tonight, once again, I must bend my body low to continue to see the Splendor through the window, as I type with the rising moon, and I am in awe, in Hod.

Baruch Hashem for the glory that is the gift to us in the very visible full moon. My iPhoto library has a zillion shots of moons, hmm, or is that a cheese ball?

Super Full Moon
  © Joy Krauthammer  8.29.2015

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