Yom Kippur Day 5777: “Addressing Homelessness in Olympia: The Need for Values in our Civic Life”

Last November, not long after the high Holidays, I took a risk when I, without prior consultation with the Board, committed our congregation to join with two other downtown faith communities to host a warming center for the homeless during the cold and wet winter months. I don’t normally eschew process, I’m very process oriented. But the situation was dire, time was short, and when I met with my colleagues and Meg Martin from the IW shelter, we knew weRead more

Wind and Rain, Resilience and Abundance

This post originally was posted to the Rabbis Without Borders blog on My Jewish Learning. Earlier this week in the Pacific Northwest we waited for a storm that wasn’t. A big storm of heavy rain and strong wind was predicted to hit Washington State, the remnants of a typhoon in the Pacific. While coastlines had increased activity, including a rare tornado hitting the Oregon Coast, further inland the result was underwhelming. And while some people lost power and a fewRead more

The Gift of Another Holiday

I love the way we end Yom Kippur at Temple Beth Hatfiloh. After the heightened spiritual intensity of the day, the physical strain from fasting (and lots of standing), the emotional work we are called upon to do, culminating in the  solemnity of the final shofar blast, we just unwind, relax, loosen up, and sing. The lights go off, the havdalah candle is lit and we first sing some songs before marking the transition from Yom Kippur to the restRead more

Kol Nidre 5777: “The God Participle”

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here: Since this is the evening of confession. I am going to confess something tonight. It’s a theological confession. While I am rooted in one particular religious tradition, and I am open to interfaith engagement and spiritual exploration, there is one place where I get stuck. And that is, I don’t like the term atheist. So long as I have been engaged spiritually, since I was young through my studies andRead more

How to Use (and Not Abuse) Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is soon upon us. It is a time in which we focus on teshuvah, traditionally translated as “repentance,” but the Hebrew root is more closely related to “turning.” Teshuvah is the act of turning from past ways and harmful habits to create a new and better future for ourselves. It also involves turning to each other to seek forgiveness for past wrongs. This last part of teshuvah—seeking and granting forgiveness—is very complicated. Forgiveness is meant as a meansRead more

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5777: “The 6 Things I Learned about Life (and Teshuvah) from Losing a Binder Full of 18 Months Worth of Work”

You may know, as I have shared with you in the past, that I recently completed a program of study called the Clergy Leadership Program through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. It was an 18 month program designed to give Jewish clergy—rabbis and cantors—the tools they need to develop spiritually, both individually and as communal leaders. It was an amazing program in which we explored mindfulness meditation, embodied spiritual practice through yoga, deep experiences of prayer which made use ofRead more