I was edged out on Friday evening. The carefully planned operation was carried out by grandson number two, the one with the red hair.
“Move over, Pop. I’ll do it,” he said firmly, prodding…me in the ribs with a sharp elbow. It’s like this: I say the Friday night kiddush. I have been saying it for 50 or 60 years now. I say it every Friday night. Winter and summer. With or without the book. Sitting, standing, or even pacing, if necessary. I can say it backwards, sideways,… >> Read More
Last night, I went to a bat mitzvah, just a few hours after a dozen fellow Jews in Pittsburgh were brutally murdered during a bris. A bris! I remember the brises of my two sons like they were…yesterday: the pride I felt, the fear of hurting my newborn during this religious and medical ritual, the warmth of my family gathered around us like a cocoon, the comforting sounds of Hebrew prayers. With every Jewish tradition, I always feel the reverberations of history — the echoes of all the boys’ cries that have… >> Read More
I’m a congregational rabbi, so the month of August is always a bit anxiety-provoking. Whether the holidays are “early” or “late,” they are coming, and my mental checklist goes into…overdrive planning of sermons, services, and more. And this is to say nothing of the spiritual work; in the Jewish calendar, the month of Elul is meant to be one of anxiety for all of us. The shofar, sounded each day of the month leading up to the Jewish New Year, is a spiritual wakeup… >> Read More
If you ask me the thing that I will remember most about my grandmother, I’ll tell you it's a well made bed: sheets tightly tucked, blanket neatly folded, and pillows were carefully arranged. For a…woman with a history like my grandmother — a Jew who fled Nazi Germany as a girl — I realize it probably sounds like a neatly made bed doesn’t do her life justice. But it’s the thing I’m holding on to. When I was younger, my grandmother was all I aspired to be. I was… >> Read More
Even before I became pregnant I knew the rules: Don’t say the baby’s name. Don’t buy anything for the baby. Don’t plan a bris. (God-forbid!) Oh, and don’t talk about what life…will be like when the baby arrives. Because, of course, the Evil Eye is always watching and you don’t want to tempt fate. I’ve spoken to many rabbis about this since having my baby boy last year – and according to them, there’s no halachic justification for this medieval belief system. Just plain old superstition.… >> Read More