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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Welcome to The Resistance: Chanukah This Year

Posted by on Dec 29, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

I’ve found that—while I can say the pleasantry of “Happy Chanukah” or “Happy Holidays”, I am finding it hard to actually mean it. I choke a little over these words with people I have a deeper relationship with. This Chanukah, I am reminded that Chanukah literally means “dedication,” and we have the opportunity to dedicate ourselves, to the best of our ability, to something that has meaning to us. That we have an incoming president who more resembles Antiochus IV, the tyrant who sparked the Maccabean revolt, than even the worst presidents of my lifetime, and we must be prepared, as the Maccabees were, to resist.   Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg wrote in the...

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Turning Mourning into Action: Reflections on the Election

Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments

I, like everyone else I seem to know, have been shocked, speechless and overwhelmed by grief. I appreciate R. Sydney Mintz’s words yesterday on a call for Bend the Arc’s We’ve Seen This Before campaign: we all entered Tuesday thinking we were going to a wedding, and when we arrived, it turned into a funeral.   And so we mourn.   And then we organize.   But first we analyze, (after we acknowledge—Hillary won the popular vote (by almost 400,000 votes at this point, and growing) and I have been reading so many different versions of analysis. First ashamed of my white sisters, who turned away from Hillary toward Trump; proud of my Jewish tribe, who...

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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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