Have Courage (Kol Nidre 5778)

My favorite part of the Torah is the end. It’s a tender and sweet moment. Moses dies, God buries Moses in a place that is unknown to anyone else. The Torah says some nice words about Moses, how he was unlike any other prophet that the Israelites has known—our liberator, our lawgiver, our defender, our …

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Living into Your Strengths: A Cheshbon Hanefesh Worksheet for the New Year

As we pass Selichot eve towards the High Holidays, the work of self-reflection and introspection becomes all that more immediate. The act of cheshbon hanefesh--of taking a self-inventory--is the spiritual work we are called to do at this season. But it is not easy. Confronting what we did, or didn't do, over the past year …

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Yom Kippur Day 5777: “Addressing Homelessness in Olympia: The Need for Values in our Civic Life”

Last November, not long after the high Holidays, I took a risk when I, without prior consultation with the Board, committed our congregation to join with two other downtown faith communities to host a warming center for the homeless during the cold and wet winter months. I don’t normally eschew process, I’m very process oriented. …

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How to Use (and Not Abuse) Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is soon upon us. It is a time in which we focus on teshuvah, traditionally translated as “repentance,” but the Hebrew root is more closely related to “turning.” Teshuvah is the act of turning from past ways and harmful habits to create a new and better future for ourselves. It also involves turning …

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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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Yom Kippur Day 5776: “Jews and Race, in Olympia and Beyond”

My friends, we need to talk about race. Three months ago, two African American men were shot by a white police officer here in Olympia. The men were caught trying to shoplift beer at the westside Safeway and, after fleeing, were confronted by a member of the Olympia police. Some form of altercation happened, and the two …

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Kol Nidre 5776: “What is Your Purpose? The Time is Now.”

If not now, tell me when If not now, tell me when, We may never see this moment Or place in time again If not now, if not now, tell me when. I don’t know if I am much into signs. I understand the concept of synchronicity—how the proximity of certain events in time can …

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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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