A Prayer for Protection

I wrote the first part of this prayer on Saturday as the events at Congregational Beth Israel in Colleyville were still playing out, and I shared it on TikTok, Facebook and at a congregational gathering that evening. I returned to it after and worked on it a little more, and offer it as a general …

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Gee 2021, Krup You!

In Jewish tradition we are taught that there are four "new years." Two are familiar to us: Rosh Hashana, our calendar new year and a time of introspection and atonement, and Tu Bishvat, the new year of the trees, which we now observe as a celebration of our environment. The Talmud also teaches that there …

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To Be Strong, Take Care of Yourself

There is a custom that, upon finishing a book of the Torah as part of the weekly reading cycle, the community says "hazak, hazak, ve'nithazek!" "Be strong, be strong, may we all be strengthened!" We have the opportunity to practice this this Shabbat, as we finish reading the Book of Genesis. In this week's Torah …

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Wrestling with our Vulnerability

Jacob in our Torah is known for his spiritual experiences. Earlier in his life, we are told, he had a vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder, and receives a blessing from God. In this week's Torah portion, we find him wrestling with an angel, leaving that encounter with a limp, a new name, …

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Rung by Rung

The famous story of Jacob's ladder is found in this week's Torah portion. Our spiritual ancestor Jacob is on his way to Haran from his home in Beer-Sheba when he stops to sleep for the night. The text reads: He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had …

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Looking Up and Down to Look Forward

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rocket went up into space again this week with four passengers, including (Jewish!) actor William Shatner, best known for playing Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek. Putting aside any opinions on private space travel and the priorities of billionaires for the moment, it is worth noting how Shatner was clearly …

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No God, No People. Know God, Know People.

This Shabbat we begin our annual Torah reading cycle anew, turning back to the beginning of the text with the opening verses of Genesis. We recreate this cycle every year, finishing the story of the Torah at the end of Deuteronomy and reading it again--in its entirety, in order--a new section each week. One of …

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We Don’t Need “Here I Am.” We Need, “I’m Here.” (Kol Nidre 5782)

https://youtu.be/AoMTnhxRP8s Because the Torah is not just concerned with ritual and spiritual practice, we also have rules about civic and communal life, our sacred text offers us rules of war. One you may have heard of is the prohibition against cutting down fruit trees when besieging a city—a prohibition in Deuteronomy that both lays a …

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The Seven Practices of the Shmita Year, and Why they are So Desperately Needed Right Now (Rosh Hashana 5782)

https://youtu.be/5d4EjqBVQcQ My sermon delivered on Erev Rosh Hashana at Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, WA on September 6, 2021 Here we are, once again. We are welcoming the new year, again impacted by the COVID pandemic. I stand here in an empty sanctuary, you sit there in front of your screens. While knowing this is …

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