The Spiritual Edge

Tom Levy

This piece originally aired on July 22nd, 2014  

I’m Jewish.  I feel a strong affinity for Judaism – the beauty of its rituals, teachings and music. But it can be hard to relate. The Old Testament has a demanding God and strange customs, like animal sacrifices. Then there’s Jewish law, called “halacha,” with its crazy complicated rules about how to run your life: what foods you can or cannot eat; what clothes you can or cannot wear; and how you observe the holidays.

Tom Levy

Some people who take dance classes regularly have a saying: “Dance is my church.”

Dancer Stella Adelman says just that about going to Afro-Cuban folkloric dance class. “There’s a release to it,” she says. To her, it’s a place where she can reflect and find some clarity through movement. To some practitioners this clarity comes from being active and getting exercise, for others, it’s literally a spiritual practice.  

The Bay Area is home to many instructors of Afro-Cuban rhythms. Music and dance lovers come from all over the world to participate in workshops taught by some of the most loved teachers and dancers from the Cuban Diaspora. Many of them have found home here.

Storycorps: Keeping a broader perspective

Mar 9, 2015
Teresa Kennett

Growing up, BJ Miller understood what it meant to live with a disability. His mother had polio. But until a college accident, Miller never imagined he would live out a similar fate. In college, he had an accident that left him a triple amputee.  After, he knew he wanted to use his experience to help others. Miller went onto become a doctor and is now the executive director of the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco.  In this next piece, he speaks with his colleague Diane Malley about the accident.

Liz Mak

U.C. Berkeley is known for its world-class scientists, in disciplines like physics, chemistry or biology. But just a few blocks away from campus, you’ll find the school’s Greater Good Science Center, where one scientist focuses on something different - the science of Happiness.

A woman takes on the Church by becoming a priest

Feb 9, 2015
Tom Levy

In the dining room of her San Francisco home, Maria Eitz shows off her priestly attire -- a beautiful red, embroidered stole.

It is the only accessory that distinguishes Eitz from the rest of her community. Usually, there is more separation, especially during mass when Catholic priests wear robes. Considering everything else, her wardrobe is a relatively minor deviation. The Vatican bans women from the altar. Yet Eitz is a woman who two years ago became a Catholic priest.

StoryCorps: Healing the mind by way of hospice

Feb 9, 2015

When someone is dying, sometimes the best medicine is not medicine at all. And sometimes what needs to be healed, is not the body, but the mind. That is the kind of caretaking that Paul Kelley takes pride in doing. When Kelley began his career as a hospice worker in 1983, he knew instantly that he had found his calling.


"I can't fix my toilet at home, I can't fix the car, I can't do bookkeeping, I can't do computers. But I can be with someone who is dying, for some reason."

Click the audio player above to listen to the story.

Hana Baba

Through much of their history, Sunni and Shia Muslims have lived peacefully together in countries like Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. But since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, sectarian conflict has escalated in the region. Here in the Bay Area, as in most of the US, around 75% of Muslims identify as Sunni, just four percent identify as Shia.

Hana Baba

While the majority of the world’s Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th, a number of Orthodox sects follow an older-than-Gregorian calendar. They celebrate every year on January 7th. 

Living in a multi-cultural city yields all sorts of surprises. On a corner in Oakland just east of Lake Merritt, a small Buddha has helped bring neighbors together.

Tracy Grubbs grew up fascinated, curious and also afraid of death. Her curiosity, plus her interest in Buddhism led her to volunteer at the Zen Hospice Project, a San Francisco center for the dying supported by the Buddhist community. Grubbs spoke with her colleague Lisa Messano.