Creating a Progressive, Inclusive, Egalitarian Jewish People: My Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association Presidential Address

On March 28, 2017, I was honored to be elected President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association at our biennial convention in Portland, OR. These are the remarks I delivered that evening at our Presidential Dinner. Thank you. I will admit that when I agreed to accept this position, I only did so because I thought …

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A Very Pagan Hanukkah

  Today is the fifth day of Hanukkah if you are reading this after sunset (which you probably are, since I didn’t post it until after sunset.) This is a special day of this eight day holiday because it is the first day in which we have more light than darkness. When we light the …

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Pray, But Light the Candles Too

With Hanukkah beginning this Sunday night, it is time to retell the traditional story of Hanukkah, how a small band of Jewish rebels rose up against the oppressive regime of King Antiochus, the Greek ruler who imposed severe restrictions on the Jewish community and Jewish practice, even desecrating the holy Temple in Jerusalem. Once the …

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Why I Support the Death Penalty. And Why I am Wrong.

Earlier this month Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in our state. In his February 11 remarks, the Governor said, Equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility. And in death penalty cases, I’m not convinced equal justice is being served. The use of the death …

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“If the Ladder is Rickety, Don’t Rely on Miracles.”

Today is the last day of Hanukkah. Much like the spices at Havdalah at the end of Shabbat, which are meant to remind us of the sweetness of Shabbat over the course of the rest of the week, so too does to fully-lit menorah we lit last night is meant to leave us with the …

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Suffering is Precious

When I was preparing for a text study on the closing chapters of 2 Kings, I came across the following midrash (found in the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 101a-b): Our masters taught: When R. Eliezer fell sick, four elders--R. Tarfon, R. Joshua, R. Eleazar ben Azariah, and R. Akiva--came to visit him. R. Akiva spoke up …

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