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Friday Shabbat Shalom

The Wilderness Is Speaking to You

May 22, 2020

The Wilderness Is Speaking to You

It’s always fascinating when something that seems ancient and irrelevant to our lives today is shown to in fact, relate a powerful message for our times. In this week’s Torah portion BaMidbar, we find the tribes of Israel having escaped from Egypt, now marching through the wilderness of Sinai on their way to the “Promised Land.”
Even Dirt Gets to Rest (Pandemic Shmitah)

May 15, 2020

Even Dirt Gets to Rest (Pandemic Shmitah)

In this week’s parsha, Behar-Bechukotai, G!D tells the Israelites that when they arrived in the Land of Israel, they must allow the land to rest once every seven years. All of us around the world, Jewish and not, are now living this Shmitah (“release” on the 7th year) experience during the pandemic.
Elevating Sacred Moments

May 8, 2020

Elevating Sacred Moments

Four years ago at this same time, I was in Poland and Israel on the Leo Martin March of the Living. The trip fell precisely during Parashat Kedoshim (Be Holy), our Torah portion last week, and Parashat Emor (Say… to the Israelites), our Torah portion this week. I'll share two remarkable stories with you (among so many others that take place during this transformational program).
Transitioning from Death to Life

May 1, 2020

Transitioning from Death to Life

s a double portion, this parshah opens with Aharei Mot (Vayikra/Leviticus 16:1-18:30) and ends with Kedoshim (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:1- 20:27). In Acharei Mot, G-d tells Aaron how to move from the death of his sons back to the journey of life, how to make the transition from death to life, and how to create rituals that move us through our periods of transitions.
Life, Death and Impurity

Apr 24, 2020

Life, Death and Impurity

My spiritual and intellectual journey as a teacher of Torah began with the purity system in Leviticus. Perhaps this was a strange place to begin my life’s passion — exploring genital discharges, corpse contamination and leprosy. However, the study of biblical purity laws yielded for me a profound appreciation for the beauty and wisdom of our tradition.
The Doorway of 8

Apr 17, 2020

The Doorway of 8

These are strange and unsettling days. Days that might begin with productive equanimity, laughter, with intentional focusing in on the small joys: new recipes, new puzzles, new novels to begin. And yet, too often, these same days can slip into potholes of darkness: unexpected bouts of fear, loss, grief. With our daily rhythms so dramatically altered, it is easy to lose track of time. Days blur and lack their familiar markers.
Pesach in a Time of Pandemic

Apr 14, 2020

Pesach in a Time of Pandemic

Pesach is a time of the year when I am, once again, overwhelmed by the beauty of our tradition’s sacred texts, liturgy and rituals. They are prisms of meaning. For generations, Jews used these sacred texts and rituals to give meaning to their life experience. More frequently than not, the life experiences of our ancestors were harsh and difficult…
The True Nature of Slavery and Freedom

Apr 7, 2020

The True Nature of Slavery and Freedom

Small seders are only one result of the virus. There’s hardly an aspect of our lives that hasn’t been changed. We’re subject to restrictions that now govern our daily activities. This situation can bring us to an understanding of one of the critical lessons of Passover: the true nature of slavery and freedom.
Jews-- We’ve Got This!

Apr 3, 2020

Jews-- We’ve Got This!

As Jews and their loved ones around the world contemplate holding virtual Passover seders this year, all I can think about is -- we’ve done this before. In fact, we do this with every holiday, and we will continue to do it long after COVID-19 disappears from our world (G!D willing).
Finding Grounding When There Is No Ground

Mar 27, 2020

Finding Grounding When There Is No Ground

What day is today? Where am I? What will be? Will my family and friends be healthy? Will I be healthy? If you are asking these questions, and if you are human like me you certainly are, you would like some resolution, some answers some direction. If you are a planner like me, who plans months ahead, likes a schedule, and is someone who prepares, these times can be disconcerting.