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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Strangers in a Strange Land

Posted by on Feb 3, 2017 in Blog | 2 comments

As we were discussing last week what I would teach today, we recognized that, while changes come swiftly these days—every day requires a head spinning, head shaking, face palming new reality, it would be useful to review what we Jews have thought about immigration and refugees–strangers… First a story, from Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom, a wonderful book, by the way… “…I say to God, ‘God is it okay to luff strangers?’ And God says to me, ‘Yitzak, vat is dis strangers? You make strangers. I don’t make strangers.’” The most frequently repeated mitzvah—and here I mean commandment, or way to connect to the Divine, rather...

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Standing with Shifra and Puah on Inauguration Day

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in Blog | 3 comments

Tomorrow, all over the world, Jews will read the opening to the book of Exodus (or Shemot), where we read that a new Pharaoh arose who did not remember Joseph, and who was so very concerned about the immigrant group, the children of Israel, because we might become a fifth column collaborating with Egypt’s enemies. From that fear, he enslaved the children of Israel and set hard taskmasters above us. But then the midwives, Shifra and Puah, resisted Pharaoh’s direct orders to begin to exterminate us. These two brave women exhibited the first recorded act of civil disobedience. They sparked hope that together we could stand up against the Pharaoh, and maybe, just maybe,...

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