Facing the Patterns that are no Longer Useful: Devarim and Tisha B’Av 5777

Posted by on Jul 23, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

While I was in seminary—about 10 years ago, I had a professor who alienated all the women in my rabbinic class. In the very first class with him, Introduction to Mysticism, he told us that first year students in mysticism were supposed to listen and not speak. (He meant students studying to become mystics, rather than students studying the history of mysticism, but still…) Jewish mysticism is very male. Very male. The metaphors don’t work for me. And so I didn’t get it at all. I’m not used to “not getting it.” And I was not alone in being challenged in that class and by that professor. Even he, three years later, acknowledged to a group of us that he “had...

Read More

What are Your Retirement Plans? Pinchas 5777

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

Part of me wants to go around the room and ask you all what kind of ritual you engaged in when you retired. Who got a watch? Who had a special lunch or dinner? Who hired and oriented their replacement? Who left quietly and took a nice, longer than usual vacation? Who just left? Who got sick soon after the retirement? Who was forced to retire because of age or health? Maybe we’ll tell these stories later. And, if you’re like me and are still working, or hope to be working, maybe we’ll learn something from our experienced retirees.   In this week’s parasha, Pinchas, towards the end of Bemidbar, In the Wilderness, the fourth of the five books of Moses, so much...

Read More

This Little Light – Beha’alotecha 5777

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…   There’s a story about a small village somewhere in Eastern Europe… the lord of the local manor decided to do something good for the community. He built them a new synagogue, with everything you’d imagine—a lovely sanctuary, a spacious social hall, a full kitchen, rooms for classrooms, offices, meditation rooms… On the bright sunny day of the opening, as he showed the kehilla, the community, around, everyone ooh’d and ah’d, Then, noticing a...

Read More

Circumcising Our Hearts – Shabbat HaGadol 5777

Posted by on Apr 6, 2017 in Blog | 4 comments

Yesterday was Shabbat Hagadol, the Great Sabbath, the shabbat before Pesach—Passover. Passover is my favorite holiday—Jewish or otherwise, for so many reasons—the ritual, the food, the gatherings, the music, and not least the messages. I want to talk about spiritual aspects of the upcoming holiday—starting a week from tomorrow night. On one hand, the holiday, coming straight out of the book of Exodus, is the Jewish redemption story. Even more than that, it is the founding story of the Jewish people. We went down to Egypt a family, with 70 people, and 400 years later, we were a people, with 600,000 men, plus the women and children. Our founding story is that we...

Read More

There’s Something Happening Here

Posted by on Mar 8, 2017 in Blog | 2 comments

Amid all the horrors wrought because of the election, I find myself more confused and confounded than I ever thought possible.   As the former director of the Women’s Needs Center of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, I am appalled by the “replacement” of the ACA (Affordable Care Act or Obamacare). It is heartless, a tax giveaway to the wealthy, and particularly harsh to women. And will throw many many millions (estimates are 20-30 MILLION people) off health insurance and into untenable situations, and back to early, preventable deaths. I was always in favor of an expansion of Medicare, or at the very least, a “public option”—but at least the ACA was...

Read More

Anxiety and Its Remedies in the Age of 45

Posted by on Feb 22, 2017 in Blog | 2 comments

I think I’ve come by my anxiety honestly—my mother both smoked when I was in utero, and created a home environment filled with it herself. It used to be a frequent physical experience—a tightening of my chest that I couldn’t relieve. I finally decided, given my family history, to treat it both with talk therapy and medication. And it is the medication that took away the physical experience and the therapy that helped me understand it. Periodically, I test myself, to see if the therapy and spiritual work I do on myself has rendered the medication unnecessary. It hasn’t. I’ve had to accept that this is a chemical imbalance that no amount of spiritual work or...

Read More