Jewish Teaching

Shabbat Message: Reproductive freedom

Posted on February 12, 2021

Here’s a question for you: Do you think of yourself as a religious or pious person? Does that term ‘religious’ make you cringe just a tiny bit? Does it sometimes feel as if being a religious person means you have to be Orthodox, a very observant Muslim, Sikh or Hindu? Or for some, the term Continue Reading »

Shabbat Message: May We Always Be Seekers

Posted on November 27, 2020

The Torah depicts the story of our people as a series of journeys. From Abraham, who is called to “go forth” to a land of promise, to the Exodus and 40 years of wandering, to exile and return – again and again, from one land to another, and shore to shore. We are a people Continue Reading »

Moving Forward with Empathy

Posted on November 13, 2020

I recently purchased the Robert Alter translation of the TaNaKh, the Jewish Bible*. This award-winning translator offers a fresh look at the Biblical text, seen so often in less dynamic and precise language. Reading Alter’s translation gave me a new motivation to reread the texts of the Psalms, the 150 tehilim. These are poems from Continue Reading »

Shabbat Message: Moving Toward Elul

Posted on August 14, 2020

At this time of summer, the days begin to approach the month of Elul, a month of reflection and looking inward, leading into the High Holy days. We are also in the midst of the seven weeks of comfort following Tisha B’Av, when the Haftarah each week is selected from the book of Isaiah, and Continue Reading »

Shabbat Message: It Should Be Enough to be Ourselves

Posted on June 26, 2020

The great Chassidic Rebbe Zusya of Anipol is known for this saying: “When I die and meet my maker, I will not be asked, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ I will be asked, ‘Why were you not Zusya?’” In this week’s Torah portion, Moses asks a similar question of Korach, who led a rebellion against Continue Reading »

We Can Reach the Promised Land

Posted on June 19, 2020

This week’s Torah portion is a telling tale about how attitude and perception color our reality – how what we see “out there,” so often reflects our inner disposition, our preconceived notions, biases and prejudices. The Israelites are ready to go up to the Promised Land, to return home to the land of their ancestors Continue Reading »

Numbers: Be Careful When You Count

Posted on May 28, 2020

Since ancient days Judaism has had an aversion to counting, especially to counting people. The basis for this is the idea that ascribing a number sets a limit. This is true of population assessments and also of longevity. As recently as a few generations ago, this sensitivity endured as a superstition among the first generations Continue Reading »

Shabbat Message: Holiness Abounds

Posted on May 1, 2020

This week’s Torah reading includes the call to be holy. “You shall be holy, for I the Eternal your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:18) It is an awesome and daunting aspiration, especially because it is couched in the challenge to rise to this exalted place because God is holy. To be like God? How can this be expected Continue Reading »

Living with the Broken Tablets

Posted on September 15, 2019

The High Holy Days span the period of forty days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur. According to our tradition, this corresponds to the forty days Moses spent atop Mount Sinai receiving the second set of Tablets. Little has been passed down to us about what was happening down below among the people while Continue Reading »

Retelling Our Story

Posted on March 8, 2019

Did you know that Pesach is the most-observed Jewish holiday in North America? Family and friends gather around the table to retell the ancient story of our people’s liberation from bondage and journey into freedom. We beautify our tables with ritual objects and special settings that we use just for Passover. We prepare delicious food, Continue Reading »