Torah study isn’t just Jewish tradition — it is a tool that can help children become willing to try on new ideas, and it challenges them to always ask new questions. Engaging with Torah is like…doing yoga for the mind: it keeps our perspectives flexible and creativity strong. Anyone, at any age, can study Torah — advanced degrees are never necessary to simply ask, “How is this text relevant to our world today?” As a Jewish educator, I encourage my students to study Torah with audacious creativity while still honoring… >> Read More
I’ve always loved Christmas songs. However, growing up in an observant Jewish household, they were sort of forbidden. Like ham. Although, truth be told, I never found ham all that appealing.
The…fact is, Christmas music is fun. It’s jingly and jangly and just uplifting enough to keep you from wanting to kill the driver in front of you while you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic because… well… it’s Christmas. Each year during the Christmas breaks of my childhood in central New Jersey, my parents would load our… >> Read More
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