Author Archive

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, ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Refresh, refresh, refresh

I am that parent. When my children are at camp, especially sleepaway camp, I jump at the chance to see photos of them posted by the camp, clicking the refresh button on my browser to see what new files I might access. I analyze who they are with or not with; I make hay out poses and perceived popularity; and I also find those pictures where my child is way off in the ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Israeli solidarity

Minutes before midnight Wednesday night, Israel marked a most mundane miracle. It was mundane for me because it was years in the making, because more has been happening on the ground than meets the usual eye, and because Israelis are good at holding multiple truths at the same time. The miracle was the formation of a coalition government made up of parties across the ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Remaking choice

“They made me do it.” Ah, the old refrain! Too often, we hear this phrase in the context of someone doing something wrong when they really did have a choice. To avoid accountability, we blame someone else; we claim coercion. What if, though, we claimed coercion in order to create future accountability? Before applying this idea to our contemporary lives, let me share ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Remembering life

To be counter-cultural one must be in conversation with the surrounding culture. Jewish wisdom has often walked a fine line between cultural engagement and rejection, the golden mean being dialogue. The contemporary Jewish holidays that occupy the days and weeks between Passover and Shavuot convey more of rebuttal than a dialogue. The wisdom they express is ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: What never ceases

What does God think of us a year later? Setting aside discussions of God’s omniscience for the moment, I truly wonder what the divine perspective is on the experience of humanity this past year. A year ago yesterday, I announced that my school building would close indefinitely with learning pivoting to online. That makes today the start of a year at home, a year of ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: ‘All You Need is Love’

The Beatles got it right. Love is a crucial component of our ability to be in the world. “Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time — It’s easy.” When we are loved, we learn to be ourselves. Lately, though, it seems that we need more love than before to be able to get what we need to be able to be. I am not talking about the romantic love celebrated ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Choosing our stories

Of all the stories Jews could tell about themselves, the Exodus from Egypt is the most central. Why not Creation? The Bible and the Gospel of John start there. Or monotheism? Abraham is pretty compelling a progenitor. Moses the lawgiver? He would be a great tragic hero. Or how about the national drama of King David and his dynasty? That kind of story is what most ...