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Pinchas 5778 – The Daughters Speak

Posted by on Jul 7, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

I ask you in these times we live: How are we supposed to speak truth to power?   This week, we might do well to turn to our Declaration of Independence.   The Founding Fathers (yes, all men) really struggled with how to make their grievances known to the King. We’d already fought at Lexington and Concord, but before the vote on independence, the Continental Congress decided they needed a declaration “to place before humankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent.”[1] And the declaration itself was edited almost beyond recognition from Jefferson’s original draft—one representative actually wanted to...

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Balak 5778 – Threads

Posted by on Jul 3, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Drash given at Congregation Shomrei Torah, June 29, 2018 Shabbat Shalom. It’s been a week, as I’ve already said. It’s been a month, a year, a long time, when things feel hard. And we turn to our tradition to see if we can find solace or something to hold on to, or maybe even something to help us think about our current reality.   This is one of those weeks when the Torah portion is more challenging than usual. Oh, it starts out well—here at Balak, deep into Numbers. The story of the talking ass is entertaining and there is something to learn from it, and we find Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov–how goodly are your tents, Jacob…right there.   However, I...

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A Short Word or Two on Women in Judaism

Posted by on May 5, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

On May 3, I was invited to share a very short lesson on Women in Judaism at the San Geronimo Valley’s spring Interfaith Forum. This is what I shared amongst a group of Sufi, Catholic and Presbyterian representatives.   Women in Judaism…Such an enormous topic. So little time.   If we were to take the Hebrew Bible literally—which I don’t—we would think that patriarchy was founded the moment when Eve offered Adam the apple. But the Bible was written or took place when patriarchy was already embedded firmly in the culture. This makes it easier—for me, at least—to think that the writers were reflecting the reality, rather than creating...

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Passover 5778–Chag Pesach Sameach!

Posted by on Mar 30, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

One of the great joys of Judaism, embedded in its longevity and ability to change and adapt to circumstances and geography, is the multiple layers of meaning that are attached to anything of moment.   An egg is never just an egg. Bread is never just bread. And a circle is never just 360 degrees of perfect shape.   We can look at the Passover story as a great tale of escape from slavery, with ten plagues, and a sea parting. Or we can look at the story as the struggle between a vulnerable minority against its mighty ruler, a class struggle, the universal story for freedom for all. Or we can look at it as the redemption from our inner struggles with self-slavery—to...

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Esther on International Women’s Day in the Midst of the #MeToo Moment

Posted by on Mar 8, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

The book or megillah of Esther a very odd book to be included in sacred scriptures, for a couple of reasons. First, it never mentions God, not once. Second, it is a farce, full of exaggeration and a ridiculous king who would much prefer to party than rule and who depends on his advisors for all decisions. The book displays silly—but dangerous—rules and behavior, and lots—I mean lots—of sexual innuendoes. In the bible.   It is also the story of powerless people—immigrants, outsiders who are victorious over genocide, by using irregular methods, the methods available to powerless people.   But it is also in some ways the most feminist book in the bible....

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Softening Hardened Hearts–Bo 5778

Posted by on Jan 19, 2018 in Blog | 1 comment

This week has been a challenging week. I really don’t like hearing or reading ad nauseum—really never has a Latin phrase seemed so appropriate—the vile words coming out of the president’s mouth in regard to people who are not white, not wealthy, not living in stable living conditions. I have been grateful to hear people speak up for people from Africa, Haiti, El Salvador, and remind us that Jews, as well as Irish, Italians, Poles—really almost any group of immigrants at some point or another, were not really welcome here. We were called all sorts of names…We have to accept the fact that the Electoral College, with 46% of voters, allowed a known racist to run...

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