Rabbinic Reflections: Two rights make a loop

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Polarities

“Two wrongs do not make a right.” This bit of moral advice often goes unheeded, especially when tensions are high. Where the advice becomes a challenge or even falls flat is when one wrong does not seem so wrong, maybe even is a right. Recently, I learned about an even trickier two-some; polarities thinking recognizes that more often we have two rights, or really two…

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Rabbinic Reflections: Season for optimism

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Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with other civil rights leaders from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. From far left: John Lewis, an unidentified nun, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. (Image from https://jwa.org/media/abraham-joshua-heschel-on-selma-march-1965)

Optimism is hard to come by these days. From the weather to Philly sports to politics and global affairs, there is so much to lament. I count myself lucky that winter is not usually a downer for me. As I looked for inspiration to hold onto the light of the holiday season or to the growing light of each day, I found myself thinking about…

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Rabbinic Reflections: The light of complexity

There is much more to Hanukkah than we normally talk about. From the origin story to the early celebrations and from there to the historical challenges of celebrating and to the themes that emanate today, Hanukkah was never just one thing. In typical Jewish fashion, Hanukkah has always been about at least two truths. That these truths have coexisted in Jewish consciousness and practice is…

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Rabbinic Reflections: Feeling It

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From Jewish Women's Archive, "Simchat Torah." https://jwa.org/media/simchat-torah

What if I were more of a mystic? Would my religious experience be something I physically feel as some sort of spiritual shift from the everyday world? I know I am too much in my head and too much in the details of life to be a mystic, but I do wonder what it might be like to have more of the mystical in my…

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Rabbinic Reflections: Holy shrines and standing ovations

It is not easy to make room for God in today’s world. Distractions, divisions, and drudgery are in opposition to awe and wonder. With mixed messages about the possibilities of the future, the present fills with work and stress, pushing aside recovery and gratitude. There are moments when it may be easy to feel blessed or to offer thanks, but too often those moments do…

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Rabbinic Reflection: Distilling the story

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Retelling the stories.

Summers are full of stories. From vacation travels to family gatherings, we often leave home and visit other places and people. Sometimes these trips become their own traditions like time at the beach or the ballpark, and sometimes it’s more simply time at the pool or the ice cream parlor. The result of our summer experiences is that we have stories, rich in depth and…

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Rabbinic Reflections: A voice in the wilderness

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Under the stars in the Israeli desert. (Image from Tourist Israel, The Guide)

I just returned from a trip to Israel. Along the way, my tour group had a transformational moment in the desert. I was leading a group of college students on a Birthright trip. They hailed from West Chester University, Villanova University, St. Joseph’s University, Thomas Jefferson University, Lehigh University, Bucknell College, Franklin & Marshall College, and Muhlenberg College. Most of them did not know each…

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Rabbinic Reflections: Parental relationships

How can we best celebrate Mother’s Day–and Father’s Day for that matter? We know that a “Day” in the course of a year means little if its values are not lived many other days of the year. We also know that parent-child relationships are often quite complicated in ways that a card can never capture. A healthy parent-child relationship ought to serve as a foundation…

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Rabbinic reflections: Seeing oneself in ritual

It is Passover, a Jewish holiday with so many meanings and also designed around questions. On this Easter Sunday in the middle of Passover which itself is in the middle of Ramadan, I wish all who celebrate a Happy Easter, a Chag Sameachand/or Moadim L’Simcha, and a Ramadan Mubarak. May your happiness and joy come from the celebrations and from finding yourself in your tradition…

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