Connecting at the Roots

Two years ago when I was on a trip to Israel and Palestine with the Jewish Council of Public Affairs Interfaith Partners for Peace program, our bus one day pulled up to the edge of the field in the West Bank, near the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements. We got out of the bus, walked down a path, and found ourselves in the middle of the field with a shed-like structure and a circle of chairs. This is the homeRead more

Torah tl;dr: “Bereshit”

We need each other. Now that we have passed Simchat Torah, we begin our Torah cycle anew at the beginning. And still more to say in 60 seconds. Listen to the latest episode of my podcast here: 60 Seconds to Wisdom. Short Teachings on the Weekly Torah Portion. Suitable for All Who Seek.Read more

How A Communal Celebration Reminds Us of the Dangers of Loneliness

This post originally appeared on the Rabbis Without Borders blog. You can read the original here. One of the fastest growing epidemics to affect our individual emotional and physical health is loneliness. Much has been written about loneliness recently, and especially how it can have deleterious effects on our health similar to smoking and even moreso than obesity. Loneliness can lead to heart disease, anxiety, depression and a host of other clinical diagnoses. Loneliness is found among the young andRead more

For Sukkot: Humor and Resilience

I had the honor and the pleasure to be a guest on a new podcast, Hashivenu, produced and hosted by Rabbi Deborah Waxman, the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. The theme of the podcast is Jewish approaches to resilience, and I was invited to speak about humor (!) and its role in human resilience. It was a wonderful conversation, and the episode was released this week in honor of Sukkot, our fall harvest festival which also marks the journeyRead more

Anti-Semitism and Answering the Call for Justice (Yom Kippur Day 5778)

Less a “sermon” than an extended kavannah before the haftarah, this is what I offered on Yom Kippur Day In a moment we will read the haftarah, Isaiah’s famous call for justice, for social justice. As we gather this afternoon to read these words, I am mindful that in the other Washington, a major march for racial justice is happening. The date for this march was chosen because September 30 is the anniversary of the Elaine Massacre, probably the largestRead more

Have Courage (Kol Nidre 5778)

My favorite part of the Torah is the end. It’s a tender and sweet moment. Moses dies, God buries Moses in a place that is unknown to anyone else. The Torah says some nice words about Moses, how he was unlike any other prophet that the Israelites has known—our liberator, our lawgiver, our defender, our guide. And that is it, the Torah ends. So we can say this is a nice ending, a literary ending…if the story of the TorahRead more

The Six Things I Have Learned About Life Since Last Year’s Election (Erev Rosh Hashanah 5778)

Well these are interesting times we are living in. It is always noteworthy how the High Holidays come in the fall, when so many of our other renewals and new starts take hold. In nature we transition from summer to fall, and are harvesting the last of our summer bounty. The salmon are running, making their way upstream to spawn and start a new turn of their lifecycle. Students, young and old, return to school after summer break. Baseball seasonRead more