Please Vote

Posted by on Nov 5, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

It’s the Saturday night before the most consequential presidential election of my life, of possibly the planet’s existence, or at least humanity’s. I’ve spent hours this week on the frustrating task of calling voters on behalf of Hillary Clinton, someone I’ve admired for decades, a strong, tough woman who puts up with more nonsense, more attacks, more slander than anyone I know of.   But it’s her opponent who has sucked most of the oxygen during this campaign. I hate to repeat the list—opening his campaign with the slander against Mexicans (and the absurd wall), the ban on Muslims, mocking of someone with a disability, insulting prisoners of war in the...

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In These Times – Choosing Life Yom Kippur 5777

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Shortly, we will read from the Torah, הַֽחַיִּ֤ים וְהַמָּ֨וֶת֙ נָתַ֣תִּי לְפָנֶ֔יךָ הַבְּרָכָ֖ה וְהַקְּלָלָ֑ה וּבָֽחַרְתָּ֙ בַּֽחַיִּ֔ים לְמַ֥עַן תִּֽחְיֶ֖ה אַתָּ֥ה וְזַרְעֶֽךָ: I place before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you may live, you and your children. (Deut. 30:19)   I want to discuss one way to choose life… Last week, I facilitated a monthly group meeting on Wise Aging, on the timely topic of forgiveness. I shared the story about Reb Shlomo Carlebach, a major force in Jewish life and music...

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Guarding Our Mouths, Guarding Our Souls – Kol Nidre 5777

Posted by on Oct 11, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

    An experiment:   The experimenter hands you some word problems and tells you to come and get her when you are finished. The word problems are easy: Just unscramble sets of five words and make sentences using four of them. For example, “they her bother see usually” becomes either “they usually see her” or “they usually bother her.” A few minutes later, when you have finished the test, you go out to the hallway as instructed. The experimenter is there, but she’s engaged in a conversation with someone and isn’t making eye contact with you. What do you suppose you’ll do? Well, if half the sentences you unscrambled contained words related...

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Teshuvah–Finding Our Way Home: Rosh Hashanah 5777

Posted by on Oct 2, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

  A couple of weeks ago, up at Kaiser, I was sitting with a 50 year old woman—let’s call her Susie—in the waiting room of the ICU, where she had spent most of the last several days with her 88 year old mom. They lived down the street from each other, saw or talked to each other every day. Mom came with her and her kids to every soccer game, every softball game. Mom had called her at 3:30 am that Wednesday morning to say she was in horrible pain. So they drove to the ER, and the doctors diagnosed a kidney stone; easily dealt with the next morning. So Susie left her mom for the procedure, went to work, saw her kids and returned alone to the hospital. When she...

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L’Shana Tovah 5777 – The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Blog | 5 comments

A story – told by Daniel Isay, the founder of Story Corps, to Krista Tippett on her show, On Being… Are you familiar with Story Corps? Story Corps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, having collected and archived more than 60,000 interviews at the Library of Congress. People walk into a recording booth with loved ones and ask questions they’ve always wanted to ask. So Mr. Isay was describing interviewing his beloved dad, and asking him the often asked question, “What are you most proud of, Dad?” For years after the interview, he teased his father (with some measure of hurt), about his answer—everyone always answers that question with,...

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Words Matter – Mattot/Maasei 5776

Posted by on Aug 5, 2016 in Blog | 9 comments

Recently, I spoke to a woman in the hospital for hip surgery that she had delayed for three weeks after her fall. After talking about that, she told me bits and pieces of her life, including her first, unhappy marriage. A few years after the marriage ended, at one of their monthly lunches where she collected his child support check, her ex told her that he had never loved her. I expressed some form of dismay on her behalf. She, however, had a different reaction: she revealed to me that it was the best thing he could have told her. “I stopped trying to blame myself, to figure out what I’d done wrong, what my problem was. I could finally stop trying to get him back,...

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