Author Archive

Rabbinic Reflections: The purpose of power

What does the New Year celebrate? The Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah, is two weeks away. As part of Judaism’s Days of Awe, it is rich in meaning, and interpreted in many ways throughout the ages. On this 9/11, those interpretations take on additional resonance. Tonight, my neighborhood will place luminaries along our sidewalks to remember the lives lost, the lives ...

 
 

Rabbinic Reflections: Life is full

Did you see John Moran’s glass olive in episode five of “Blown Away,” season three? It was not just gorgeous, it was immense. Granted the challenge was to make an oversized version of a real-life object, but his glass olive was so full of color and texture, including the pimento stuffed inside, also made of glass. The glass olive seemed to have more life than the ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Gaming time

Summertime is a different time. With graduations, step-up days, the shift from school to camp, taking vacations, and so much more, time counts differently. It is not just that there are more hours of the day, something in our mindset changes, too. For me, baseball becomes prominent, and something about the game resonates deeply with Jewish wisdom that speaks to this ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: American and

Melting pot or tossed salad? I grew up when American society seemed to shift from thinking about itself as a melting pot where immigrant identities blended together with American culture, adding some flavor by contributing to a relatively homogeneous fondue. The shift was toward what was then called multiculturalism in which racial and ethnic identities were seen as ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Living Jews

Have you ever hidden a part of yourself? Maybe for a job interview or a date, you dressed up or put on your best self. Maybe in this increasingly polarized world, you held your tongue and kept your peace. I know I have, sometimes to the point of feeling like a chameleon to fit in. Listening to Jewish student interview Dara Horn about her book People Love Dead Jews ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Stepping back or backward

One step forward, one step backward. Is that the beginning of a total of two steps back? Or is it the beginning of a cha-cha? Robert Brault calls someone who thinks the latter an optimist. In thinking about so much of our world at this moment, especially with regard to the pandemic, I confess that, despite my usual optimism, I am much more in the two-steps-back camp. ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: My Jewish Christmas

It’s been 11 years since Christmas last fell on a Saturday. It is the longest stretch in a cycle of Christmases on Saturday, falling every six years, then five years, then six years, then 11 years. It is little wonder then that this year is throwing me for a loop. Like many American Jews, I have inherited traditions to make the most of Christmas. My family spent ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Thanksgiving rest

I have been seeking holiness of late. In the busyness of life and in the discordance of the airwaves, I have been seeking a rootedness, a stillness to make meaning of it all. Sometimes we just need to cease in order to be. This Veterans Day, the sound of silence meant so much to me. For one, I learned, for the first time, a passage from Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Iconoclastic questions

How would Hollywood tell the story? In its season opener, Saturday Night Live had a skit poking fun at the billionaire “space flights” of this past July through the lens of Star Trek. As a fan of sci-fi, that got me thinking about imaginative leaps, barrier-breaking ideas, and social commentary. My favorite Bible story is an imaginative leap, not actually in the ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: A good new year

We don’t say “Happy New Year” on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. Well, some people do, but the traditional greetings translate to “Have a Good and Sweet Year,” “To a Good Year,” or “A Good Holiday.” Yes, many people understand “good” to mean “happy,” but even when we mean that our mindset is more about health and fulfillment than joy. The Jewish New Year is not ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Setting it right

“We are loved. We are loving. We are loved. We are loving.” Say it again with me, “We are loved. We are loving.” This mantra is at the heart of righting a major wrong. You might think that the Jews committed to God and goodness at Mt. Sinai, and the rest was history. The commitment was rash, it failed, and the trauma of the Golden Calf and more ensued. To recover, ...