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Friday Shabbat Shalom

Lech Lecha Liminality

Nov 8, 2019

Lech Lecha Liminality

Like Abraham and Sarah at the opening of Bereishit/Genesis 12, we too are traveling to an unknown land and looking at an uncertain future. “Lech Lecha- Go forth from your native land and from your father's house to the land that I will show you," says the Holy One.
The World Must Be Our Ark

Nov 1, 2019

The World Must Be Our Ark

This story of global destruction, human sin and righteousness demands re-reading in light of our current reality. One theme is clear: the complete interdependence between humans and the natural world. Human behavior pollutes and then dooms the entire world.
Do Your Things Own You?

Oct 25, 2019

Do Your Things Own You?

So many people look at Genesis, Chapter 1 in Parashat Bereisheet, as a simple, fairy-tale kind of story. It’s the kind of narrative we teach in Early Childhood classrooms and have small children create lovely artwork around. For many people, it’s certainly not as compelling or “true” as the Big Bang Theory or the Theory of Evolution.
Simchat Torah is One Antidote to Anti-Semitism

Oct 18, 2019

Simchat Torah is One Antidote to Anti-Semitism

As we memorialize the Pittsburgh Attack this weekend, recalling the worst anti-Semitic act committed in recent memory, we search for comfort, meaning and a way to respond. What can I do to address something that seems so much bigger than I am? How can I make a difference? What is the best means to fight anti-Semitism? I am not sure that there is a “best” answer to these questions, but I do think there are steps I can take.
Sukkot: The Dual Festival

Oct 11, 2019

Sukkot: The Dual Festival

The sedra of Emor outlines the festivals that give rhythm and structure to the Jewish year. Examining them carefully, however, we see that Sukkot is unusual, unique. One detail which had a significant influence on Jewish liturgy appears later on in the book of Deuteronomy: Be joyful at your Feast . . . For seven days celebrate the Feast to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. (Dt. 16: 14-15)
How Can Something So Worn Become New Again?

Oct 4, 2019

How Can Something So Worn Become New Again?

The Day of Judgment evokes very ominous feelings. We approach it bewildered and unsure how one day can be so different from others. How does this day enable us to reach back in time to atone for sins? Why is it uniquely imbued with the power to preordain events for the year ahead?
Step Out of Line!

Sep 27, 2019

Step Out of Line!

Whether you were interested or able to watch the Emmy’s this past Sunday night, you’ve probably heard or seen Alex Borstein’s acceptance speech for her award as best supporting actress in a comedy (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). In the middle of it, she became serious and told the audience she came from a family of immigrants and Holocaust survivors...
The Stories We Tell

Sep 20, 2019

The Stories We Tell

How should we remember the past so that it best teaches us how to live our lives into the future? Parashat Ki Tavo gives us a very interesting answer and model for us to use. Israelite farmers were commanded to bring the first cuttings from their produce in a basket to the Temple where the Kohein (priest) would place them in front of the altar. The farmer then had to recite a declarative paragraph casting himself as an actor in the history of the Israelite people (Devarim/ Deuteronomy 26:5-10)
The Nuances of Living the Torah

Sep 13, 2019

The Nuances of Living the Torah

Some of the laws found in it make me very glad the Rabbis came along and through the halachic system, interpreted them in much more enlightened, humane ways. See for example: The Rebellious or Wayward Son (cue: the Kansas song) discussed in chapter 21:18-21, whom we are supposed to stone to death. Personally speaking, if I had to carry out this particular command, my son would be long gone (pu pu, hamsa hamsa), and I am pretty certain most parents of teenagers would be in similar straits.
Mishpat Tzedek, Compassionate Judgment

Sep 6, 2019

Mishpat Tzedek, Compassionate Judgment

The new month of Elul calls us to engage even more deeply in the daily practice of cheshbon hanefesh, soul-accounting, which is the primary Jewish spiritual practice in preparation for the Yamim Nora'im, the "Days of Awe." One rabbinic name for Rosh Hashanah is Yom HaDin, the "Day of Judgment," a term which may raise connotations of a day of harsh assessment, often triggering excessive guilt or shame. Many of us may find such judgment to be counterproductive to actually altering our behavior.