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The Amalek in Us

In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, we are given a long list of commandments, many dealing with issues of economic justice and ethical behavior. The portion ends with the vehement exhortation about Amalek: "Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt--how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on ...

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Parking Outside the Lines

File this one under: Really?! Yesterday when stopping for coffee on the way to the synagogue after dropping Erez at camp I encountered the following car parked on Capitol Way. If you know me, or at least remember my Rosh Hashanah sermon last year, this type of parking job really gets under my skin. In ...

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15+ Questions for the Board of the Olympia Food Co-op

Just a bit more on the Co-op boycott, three years out. Based on my last posting and some recent conversations, certain questions have crystallized in my mind. I think the Board answering some of these questions in an open way would be a good step in helping to address some of the difficulties which have ...

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Soul Kashering

I know we are coming up on the month of Elul and the High Holidays, but I wanted to turn my attention to Passover for a minute. Passover is a holiday which traditionally requires a fair amount of preparation. The practice over the holiday is not to eat any hametz(leavened products like bread, pasta and so ...

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The Value of Values

Thirty years ago the movie Trading Places came out, and 30 years later I finally understand it. One of the best birthday presents I could have gotten is a report from NPR, which explains the ending I never understood. The movie concerns the wealthy Duke brothers who bet each other that they can take a ...

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Destruction and Rebuilding this Tisha B’Av

On Tisha B'Av we mark the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. It was such a calamity for the Jewish people, as the Temple was central institution of the community at the time. Since then, we have mourned its loss with fasting and the recitation of the book of Lamentations, as well as adopting ...

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The Destructive Power of Speech

This time of year my thoughts turn back to a favorite story from the Talmud, the story of Bar Kamza. In the Jewish calendar we are approaching Tisha B'Av (the Ninth of Av), the date traditionally associated with the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and again ...

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On Not Taking Your Base

Ah, summertime in Olympia. Despite the excessive (?) heat this week, I believe most of us can agree that summertime is truly special around here. Moods brighten, plants are in bloom, raincoats and fleeces are hung up and there is much to see and do. One of my favorite summertime activities over the past few ...

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Supreme Equality

It's been an exhilarating week in our country with history being made by the Supreme Court. As you are well aware, yesterday the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, a Clinton-era law which defined marriage as solely between a man and woman. This had the effect of denying federal benefits to thousands of ...