First, Recognize Our Fear and Anxiety. Then, Build Community.

As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continued to change day to day, we like many synagogues last week decided to cancel services and other programs. Subsequently the directives to "social distance" and avoid groups grew, schools closed, and beyond just our Jewish community, our greater society is stepping back and isolating in order to slow the …

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Washing, Sanitizing, and Resting Will Avert the Severe Decree

The Jewish interpretive tradition has a wonderful way of using word play to derive meaning and connection from sacred text. One of my favorite examples of this is how commentators make a connection between Yom Kippur--the solemn Day of Atonement--and Purim--the festive celebration of the events of the Book of Esther. Since the prefix "k-" …

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My Endorsement: Vote

By now those of us in Washington State have gotten our ballots in the mail. And while I always miss the polling place, to do love the fact that we have such an accessible and open system of mail-only voting, especially now that one doesn’t even need a stamp. If you follow me on Facebook, …

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The Place All American Jews Need to Visit

Today is a day that will live in infamy. On this day in 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, ordering the interment of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, both immigrants and native born. Families were uprooted from their homes in the western United States and relocated to camps farther inland where they lived during …

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Through the Mud to the Promised Land

On Thursday I was invited to give an interfaith spiritual reflection as part of Interfaith Advocacy Day, sponsored by Faith Action Network: Its wonderful to be here this morning to share some reflections as we set our minds and our hearts to do this work together this morning, this whole day. And I have to …

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Wash your Hands. The Rest is Commentary.

File this under things I didn't learn in rabbinical school: how to handle a public health crisis at your synagogue. This past Thursday in the late afternoon I got a call from the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department, letting me know that they were conducting an investigation into a norovirus outbreak at …

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Benediction for an Historic Day at the Supreme Court

This morning I had the distinct honor of offering the benediction at the swearing in of Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis, who became the first Native American justice on the Washington State Supreme Court, and the new Chief Justice Debra Stephens. Video can be found here. Thank you, it is an honor to be with you here …

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The Response to Hate is to Reveal Ourselves

We read the climax of the Joseph story in this week’s portion of Vayigash, as the sons of Jacob are reunited. Joseph’s brothers hate him because he was their father’s favorite, and he tended to have dreams that indicated his superiority. First they plan to kill him, then decide to sell him into slavery in …

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The Lesson of Hanukkah? Do It Anyway.

This past Yom Kippur, reflecting on the work that we are called upon to do in these times, I invoked the image of Hanukkah. And now that we have entered that holiday, I revisit those words and, slightly revised, I share them again: I’ve been inspired recently by the author Courtney Martin who wrote a …

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