Author Archive

Rabbinic Reflections: Ready and not

Be afraid; be a light. Never again; choose life. Be proud; expect security checkpoints. Jews today live in a strange place. We have achieved high degrees of success, and we have felt increasingly vulnerable. We have tried to make the world a better place, and we have been blamed for almost all of its ills. The experience of these polarities is enough to drive just ...

 
 

Rabbinic Reflections: Getting grounded

Whiplash seems to be the reality these days. Liberal or conservative, politics have taken abrupt turns this past month. Here in the Brandywine Valley and certainly in the Florida panhandle, weather has shifted dramatically, hot and cold, category 2 to 4. Jewishly (and for schools closing for Jewish High Holy Days) life was filled with stops and starts as the holidays ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: It’s your call

Let’s reschedule Rosh HaShanah. I know the calendars all say that it begins tonight and will stretch through Tuesday; after all, it is also known as yoma arichta (the long day). Rosh HaShanah is too early this year; it is too hot still, and school has barely started. We should reschedule it. To be clear, the ancient rabbis said we can. In fact, in one infamous case, ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Mirror of return

Today, the alarm starts ringing. It is time again to awaken, not for a particular day but for a life. The alarm clamors, sounding not just in our ears but in our souls. Today, we must begin to return not just to the Creator but to our best selves, our purpose as unique creations. The Hebrew month of Elul begins today. With it come the 30 days of preparation for the ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Religious freedom

With the recent announcement that Justice Kennedy is resigning from the Supreme Court, much of the media has rightly focused on Roe v Wade. What strikes me in the coverage is the place given to religion. If religion is mentioned at all, it is thrown in as a monolithic characteristic of either President Trump’s base or the Republican base. In my experience, religions, ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: A quiet gift

I am supposed to know better. I should know from experience, and I should know from faith. And when it came to my daughter’s bat mitzvah, I should not have forgotten the Jewish wisdom of Shabbat when trying to make Shabbat fit into the party instead of the other way around. My daughter celebrated that Jewish rite of passage known as becoming bat mitzvah (literally, ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: The Passover table

The people who disagree most are sitting together. The stakes are really high. The recent past was fraught with machinations and secret deals. It is not just politics, not just leadership, not even worldviews; it comes down to their sense of purpose in the world. And we have a record of it. The Passover Haggadah, the guidebook for the seder meal, gives order (the ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Violence and holiness

"‘Should,' ‘have to,' and ‘must' are among the most violent words in the English language because they are extrinsic." Think about that quotation for a minute. If I say to you, "you should…," or "you have to…," or "you must," you are likely to feel a tightening in your body, maybe even to become defensive. The response is natural as someone, other than you is ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: God’s Eagles

"I am a rabbi and a person of faith. But God has nothing to do with this," wrote a friend of mine in response to many Eagles' players attributing the Super Bowl LII victory to God. I have had this conversation about God and sports before but let us face it, the Eagles winning the Lombardi trophy is different. No, God does not have a favorite NFL team; no, God does ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Gardening freedom in winter

“Stay warm.” With each bitter cold snap this winter, we tell each other to “stay warm.” We mean it, it is cold outside, dangerously so. We would be remiss, though, if we stopped at thinking about the temperature, wind chills, and whether the heat is working. There is also a biting chill in today’s civil discourse. Today, we need to say and hear “stay warm” as a ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Making rituals work

Do I use it? Do I merely display it? Or do I return it? Just ahead of this year's Chanukah celebration — the holiday begins on Tuesday night, Dec. 12 — my father sent my family an imposing chanukiyah (the menorah used for Chanukah candle lighting). We already have a sizeable love-themed chanukiyah given to my wife and me as a wedding gift. We also have one we often ...