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The Threat of Serenity

Rabbi Menachem Creditor | Posted 11.30.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

I've never skied, and I never intend to ski. In fact, I don't understand why anyone does. It seems to me that the things all skiers have in common are the bruises and broken bones inevitably acquired in the winter months.

No Guarantees for the Righteous (Parshat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:3-36:43)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld | Posted 11.24.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

The Torah is famously laconic about the emotional lives of its central characters. We are left to imagine what Abraham was feeling as he walked up Mount Moriah with his son Isaac at his side, or what Rachel felt when she discovered that her older sister Leah had laid with Jacob in the marital bed intended for her.

Prayer and Meditation in the Aftermath of the Paris Attacks

Rabbi Or Rose | Posted 11.22.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Or Rose

Prayer is not enough, it must lead to concrete action in the world. But prayer and other contemplative exercises can serve as powerful vehicles for individual and collective reflection, illuminating our path to purposeful action.

Twins Are Very Different (Lessons From Jacob and Esau)

Rabbi Jason Miller | Posted 11.17.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Jason Miller

When we hear the term "twins," we often think of two things that are alike -- twin beds, twin turbo engines, etc. However, as the father of twins (who happen to turn ten-years-old today), I can attest to the fact that twins are most certainly quite different from one another.

Joy and Loss: Holding the Fullness of Possibility (Parshat Toldot, Genesis 25:19-28:9)

Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman | Posted 11.11.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman

Being pregnant means holding the vast span of possibilities, each in the fullness of its fruition, all at once. The blue or pink "gender reveal" party holds no candle to the many variations of joy and loss that are possible in the span of a pregnancy or the life of a human being born.

'Good Old Age': Living and Dying Well (Parshat Hayyei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Rabbi Dr. Micha’el Rosenberg | Posted 11.04.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Dr. Micha’el Rosenberg

Until Avraham's request, this midrash tells us, a 90-year-old grandmother and a 20-year-old youth might look roughly the same; all of the telltale signs of old age with which we are so familiar -- the wrinkles, the creaking back, the slowed reflexes -- had not yet come into the world.

Migrants and Morals

Howard J. Curzer | Posted 10.29.2015 | Religion
Howard J. Curzer

A disorganized rabble consisting of thousands of migrants fleeing persecution and terrible living conditions stream out of a Mideast country. Their aim is a rich, fertile, sparsely populated land to the north. Their progress is slow and intermittent with detours and backtracks.

Listening to Women's Voices (Parshat Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24)

Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg | Posted 10.28.2015 | Religion
Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg

We are living in a great period in Jewish history, with women's Torah study, learning, and knowledge at an all-time high--and it is only growing. Women's voices matter, and men's voices matter. We are all invested in the Jewish people, and we should all be asked and heard in shaping its future.

The Most Revolutionary Part of the Ten Commandments

Rabbi Evan Moffic | Posted 10.23.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Evan Moffic

We tend to take them for granted. Even pastors or rabbis who teach and preach about them can forget how revolutionary they once were. We can begin to see them as a decorations in courtrooms rather than a sacred call to live by sacred values.

Becoming Like Prophets (Parshat Lech Lecha, Genesis 12:1-17:27)

Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire | Posted 10.21.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire

We see here a paradigm shift, from a human endeavor that leads nowhere to a vision of a new society imbued with values of universal justice and a universal God. But can one man really change the world?

Beliefs of a Progressive Judaism

Rabbi Joseph Meszler | Posted 10.20.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Joseph Meszler

An Orthodox Jewish friend asked me, with some real perplexity in her voice, why I wasn't Orthodox. "You love Torah study. You davven [pray] regularly. What keeps you from being Orthodox? I don't understand it."

What if Cain Killed Abel in Self Defense?

Avraham Bronstein | Posted 10.13.2015 | Religion
Avraham Bronstein

To the rabbis, the story is less a historical event and more a meditation on the human experience. Throughout history, Cains and Abels have battled, and the rabbis force us to consider sometimes uncomfortable truths about the broader story of human relations.

Back to the Garden, and Forward (Parshat Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-1:8)

Rabbi Arthur Green | Posted 10.08.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Arthur Green

The holiday season has come and gone. Moses has ascended Mount Nebo, looked across the Jordan, and suddenly the world is created all over again. Here we are, back at Genesis 1:1, "in the beginning."

On Capital Punishment, SCOTUS Is Behind The Times -- And The Talmud

Avraham Bronstein | Posted 10.07.2015 | Religion
Avraham Bronstein

Justices Scalia and Alito argued that the death penalty must be constitutional. But Justices Breyer and Ginsburg countered that, as currently practiced, the death penalty in its totality may likely be cruel, unusual, and wholly unconstitutional.

Between Fragility and Protection (Chol haMoed Sukkot: Exodus 33:12-34:26)

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg | Posted 09.30.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

My father-in-law was a warm-hearted man who took each day with good cheer and had a smile for everyone. The family therefore chose as the inscription on his grave, "Enjoy life for it is the gift of God."

Inhabiting Vulnerability (Parshat Ha'azinu, Deuteronomy 32:1-52)

Rabbi Adina Allen | Posted 09.23.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Adina Allen

This week's Torah reading, Parshat Ha'azinu, ends with this devastating reminder to Moses that despite having led the people out of Egypt and through the trials and tribulations of wilderness for 40 years, he will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.

The Torah On the March From Selma

Richard C. Harwood | Posted 09.18.2015 | Religion
Richard C. Harwood

This past Monday, I sat in services for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, nervous about my task: to go to the front of the congregation and lift the Torah (Holy Scripture scrolls) above my head after it was read and before it was to be placed back in its Holy Ark, where it is kept.

Why I Helped Carry a Torah From Selma to Washington

Rabbi Steve Fox | Posted 09.18.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Steve Fox

This week, I carried a Torah, not an unusual experience for a Rabbi -- except this Torah had traveled 1,000 miles from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, DC. It was carried along the way by nearly 200 Reform Rabbis and hundreds of others who walked in partnership on the NAACP's America's Journey for Justice.

Write Your Own Song (Parshat Vayelech 31:1-30)

Rabbi Minna Bromberg | Posted 09.16.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Minna Bromberg

As we prepare for Yom Kippur we can take seriously the mitzvah of writing our own Torah, our own song. We can reconstitute the many words on the page with the breath of our lungs, the deepest stories of our hearts, and the truest actions of our lives.

Abraham Spared Isaac: #ChildLivesMatter as Precursor to #BlackLivesMatter

Howard J. Curzer | Posted 09.09.2015 | Religion
Howard J. Curzer

One way to eliminate a practice is to convince people that the practice conflicts with the core values of their society and/or religion. In Abraham's day, the core values were expressed as God's orders; today the core consists of fundamental principles.

Communal Return and Personal Renaissance: What Forgiveness Makes Possible (Parshat Nitzavim, Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)

Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi | Posted 09.09.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi

The promise of profound renewal during the upcoming High Holy Days is tremendous, but whether or not we will merit the fulfillment of that promise depends largely upon us.

Eternally Immigrants (Parshat Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)

Rabbi Joshua Stanton | Posted 08.31.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Joshua Stanton

The Torah takes a radical stand on immigration -- and compels us to take a radical stand as well. We cannot simply judge immigrants. We must in a sense become them for a moment, through ritual practice, so that we can more fully feel their pain.

Telling Stories of Trauma for Healing and Compassion (Parshat Ki Tetzei, Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

Adam Lavitt | Posted 08.27.2015 | Religion
Adam Lavitt

In the biblical text, Moses must become a storyteller. In this week's parashah, Ki Tetzei, he stands at the edge of the desert and faces the Israelite people, who gaze over his shoulder toward the promised land.

Pursuing Justice, Pursued by Love (Parshat Shoftim, Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman | Posted 08.21.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

We may be pursuing justice, but loving-kindness is pursuing us. As we chase after our ideals, as we rightfully cry out to help give birth to the world that we know is possible, may we also let chesed not only pursue us but catch up to us. May we let her wrap us in her fierce embrace as she opens our hearts.

Seeing Past, Present and Future On the Road to Justice (Parashat Re'eh, Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)

Rabbi Daniel Klein | Posted 08.10.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Daniel Klein

See, look, pay attention, the Torah commands us, because actually seeing is hard and complicated, and requires extraordinary effort to battle both external and internal distractions.