It’s Elul: You Have Permission to Change

This weekend we begin the Jewish month of Elul and officially begin the High Holiday season. The holidays themselves are "late" this year in accordance with the Gregorian calendar (they, of course, fall the same time each year on the Hebrew calendar), but no matter when they fall, we get a month warning with the …

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“What Do You Have to Declare?”

Anyone who has gone through customs coming from an international trip has had to respond to the following question, “What do you have to declare?” Our government levies taxes and tariffs on particular goods, and tries to keep certain goods out of the country, so the question is meant to elicit an honest response on …

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“Welcome Home” to Elul: A View from Camp

I'm spending this week at Jewish summer camp. I have returned this year to URJ Camp Kalsman in Arlington, WA to serve a week as faculty--a week filled with leading services, teaching and engaging with kids during activities. Camp Kalsman is one of the two main summer camps that kids from my congregation attend--Camp Solomon …

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Pass the Ice Water, It’s Elul

If you are tied into social media, you are probably aware of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It is a viral phenomenon in which people challenge each other to dump a bucket of ice water on their head, in the name of raising awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the fatal degenerative disorder more commonly …

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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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