Watching Out for the Ox That Gores

In this week’s Torah portion of Mishpatim we continue the theme of last week’s: the revelation at Sinai. Having journeyed out of Egyptian slavery, the Israelites are now at Mount Sinai where Moses is to receive the laws. Mishpatim means “laws” and the portion is a collection of different laws and practices that we are to follow, some ethical, and some ritual. This is in many ways the final stage of the Exodus. Having been enslaved for generations, the IsraelitesRead more

Being Good Citizens

In this week’s Torah portion the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses, have escaped from Egyptian slavery, crossed the Red Sea and are beginning their journey to the Promised Land. Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, has heard about the events that took place, and travels from his home in Midian to meet up with Moses in the Wilderness. Jethro brings Moses’s wife and children, and the family is reunited. Jethro congratulates Moses on the victory and offers up a blessing to GodRead more

Why American Jews Should Stop Observing Yom Hashoah

This post originally was on the Rabbis Without Borders blog. An interesting thing happened two weeks ago. When President Trump issued his executive order banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, setting off a wave of protests and condemnations, many Jewish groups who opposed the ban noted the cruel irony that the ban was issued on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In addition, Jewish groups also noted with dismay that the statement the Trump White House issued in observance of thatRead more

Interfaith Vigil for Compassion and Sanctuary

On Tuesday of this week, the day when the City Council meets, my clergy colleagues and I hosted an interfaith vigil to support our City Council’s decision to become a sanctuary city and to support the Olympia Charter of Compassion which we developed. Many powerful words were said, songs were sung and the feeling of solidarity was strong. These were the words I shared: In the Jewish tradition, through our practice of reading our sacred scripture, the Torah, each weekRead more

Executive Orders Based on Fear Won’t Work. Ask Pharaoh.

This week we have seen a flurry of Executive Orders coming from the desk of newly inaugurated President Trump. While Executive Orders are nothing new, and Presidents have routinely used them, the content of the orders and messages coming out of the Oval Office are enough to give one pause. These include orders to roll back the Affordable Care Act, orders to withdraw from international treaties, and orders to renew construction of disputed pipelines, all of which in one fellRead more

Moses and Aaron: Allies for Justice

The Inauguration is upon us. The peaceful transfer of power that is a hallmark of our American democracy goes into effect on Friday. Yet this time power is being transferred to a man who enters the office with the lowest approval rating in recent history, who lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, whose entry into office will be marked by protests across the country of unprecedented scale. There is an intriguing juxtaposition of these events and our TorahRead more