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Rabbi Joseph Meszler
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Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler is the spiritual leader of Temple Sinai of Sharon, Massachusetts and the author of several books and articles, including: Witnesses to the One: the Spiritual History of the Sh'ma (Jewish Lights, 2006), Facing Illness, Finding God: How Judaism Can Help You and Caregivers Cope When Body or Spirit Fails (Jewish Lights Publishing 2010), and A Man's Responsibility: A Jewish Guide to Being a Son, a Partner in Marriage, a Father and Community Leader (Jewish Lights, 2008).

Rabbi Meszler has lectured widely and been heard on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio. He previously served at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, DC and as a resident chaplain in Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, Drake Rehabilitation Center, and the Pauline Warfield Lewis Center for Mental Health. Rabbi Meszler also taught as an instructor during the summer of 2002 at the Smithsonian Institution Resident Associates program on the DC National Mall. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in 1999.

Living in Sharon, Rabbi Meszler is married to Rabbi Julie Zupan, and they have two children.

Entries by Rabbi Joseph Meszler

What I Have Learned: Gun Control and Judaism

(9) Comments | Posted January 15, 2016 | 6:08 PM

With President Obama's executive action on gun control, we have yet another round in the gun debate. On Rosh Hashanah last September, I gave a sermon on Jewish ethics and gun control, which was subsequently published in the Huffington Post. Since that publication, I have heard from advocates...

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The Purpose of Genesis: 'They're All God's Kids'

(1) Comments | Posted December 28, 2015 | 3:01 PM

At the end of the book of Genesis, the patriarch Jacob blesses his twelve sons, each one according to their individual personality. They will each become the head of a tribe. He offers them criticism for their faults and encouragement for their strengths. Rabbi Simcha Bunem of the 18th century...

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What Does the Temple Mount Symbolize to Progressive Religion?

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2015 | 2:40 PM

My teacher Emil Fackenheim once challenged me with an idea full of tension. Speaking of Jerusalem as a metaphor in our prayers is all fine and good, until you now have political power over the real Jerusalem. Now what does it means when you say, "Next year in Jerusalem" when...

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Beliefs of a Progressive Judaism

(18) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 9:04 PM

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."

This is my stuttering, inadequate response. I will try to answer as best I can.

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Who By Bullet: A Message for the Jewish High Holy Days on Gun Violence

(141) Comments | Posted September 18, 2015 | 11:54 AM

On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jews in synagogue read a disturbing prayer entitled Unetaneh Tokef containing the famous passage, "who shall live and who shall die, who by fire and who by water." This prayer asks us to recognize our mortality and how much of life is beyond our...

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Passover Is a Prelude to Action

(1) Comments | Posted March 31, 2015 | 3:58 PM

Every year on Passover, Jewish people recall that "once we were slaves and now we are free." We dip celery in salt water to remember the tears of the Israelites in captivity. We eat bitter herbs to remember the bitterness of slavery. We hold up a humble piece of matzah...

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Living in a Self-Segregated World

(1) Comments | Posted January 15, 2015 | 6:38 PM

When I was in sixth grade, my best friend was a guy named Richard. Richard and I were on the same soccer team. We hung out at each other's houses and played computer games. He liked to sing Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" at the top of his lungs. And while...

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Waiting for a Palestinian MLK

(16) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 4:31 PM

In 1994, I was studying in my first year of rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. I naively believed that peace was in the air. I watched on the television as Israel made peace with Jordan as it had done with Egypt, and then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin...

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Heart-Breaking Truths About Gaza and Israel

(1) Comments | Posted July 25, 2014 | 1:48 PM

As I sit in my comfortable home in Massachusetts, rockets are being fired from Gaza at my nephew in Israel. He is the son of an Israeli, an almost-fluent Hebrew speaker, and he is currently studying Arabic. He believes, like many Westerners do, in the power of dialogue and the...

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A Day in the Life of a Rabbi

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 5:21 PM

"What is the typical day of a rabbi?"

It is a question I get occasionally, sometimes on an airplane or at the bowling alley at one of my kid's birthday parties. The questioner might continue, "I mean, do you counsel a lot of people? Think about your sermon?"

Kind of....

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Spiritual Wake-Up for Non-Morning People

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2014 | 1:39 PM

I am not a morning person. I have trouble getting out of bed. I hit the snooze button. I go downstairs, make sure the kids get going and want to crawl back under the covers, or maybe sit somewhere and fall asleep again.

Morning isn't easy for many people....

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Reading the Bible As a Human Being

(5) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 10:52 AM

About nine years ago, my synagogue, our local Catholic church, and others in Sharon, Massachusetts held a joint program called "Catholics and Jews Learning Together." Our congregations met and read about the different ways we each understand Scripture.

We began grappling with the different ways Catholics and Jews have historically...

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For People Like Me Who Struggle With Prayer

(0) Comments | Posted October 25, 2013 | 5:12 PM

A Preface to Prayer:

Dear God,

I know I cannot really relate to You, but I have to because I am human.

I am a creature of flesh and blood caught in past, present, and future; You are the eternal Soul of the Universe. I struggle with right and...

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Walking With Children

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2013 | 6:13 PM

"Come on guys! Catch up!"

I have been saying this to my family for years. I am 6 feet tall, and I have always walked fast. I try to slow down when I am walking with my 9- and 10-year-olds, but inevitably, I find myself several paces ahead. My wife...

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How to Really Apologize

(4) Comments | Posted September 4, 2013 | 6:24 PM

There is an art to saying you're sorry and learning from your mistakes. And we all make mistakes and never stop learning.

A great deal of ancient Jewish writing focuses on this process, but you don't have to be Jewish to benefit from this hard-earned wisdom. In preparation for...

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A Prayer of Atonement

(1) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 12:04 PM

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, Jewish congregations around the world confess their communal transgressions. From the point of view of the Jewish American community, we take responsibility for ourselves and each other and know we are all in this together....

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Do I Have to Start All Over Again? Yes. Every Day.

(1) Comments | Posted August 14, 2013 | 1:18 PM

Everyone keeps saying to me, "Rabbi, the holidays come so early this year! Rosh Hashanah is September 5, and then Hanukkah comes during Thanksgiving." My hopefully witty response is, "Maybe Rosh Hashanah is on time, and September is late."

Nevertheless, for Jewish people, the summer seems short. Right after Labor...

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Prayer at the Funeral of Someone Who Committed Suicide

(0) Comments | Posted July 22, 2013 | 5:57 PM

"What am I supposed to say?"

Unfortunately, there are times in the life of the clergy when we are called upon to officiate at the funeral of someone who died of suicide. Frequently, such as when drugs are involved, the situation can be devastatingly confusing because sometimes no one knows...

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What a Few Deep Breaths Can Teach You

(4) Comments | Posted July 8, 2013 | 11:32 AM

"What's the most important skill you are going to need for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah?" I ask.

"Uh.... Don't drop the Torah?" guesses the nervous 12-about-to-be-13-year-old.


"Don't mess up my Hebrew?"

"No. Mistakes are okay. Everyone loves you."

The kid shrugs.

"It is the ability to take a deep breath."

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My Town Is a Living Laboratory of Pluralism

(7) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 3:09 PM

In my small town of Sharon, Mass., there is a great deal of love, a good dose of hatred, and a lot of ambivalence. It is emotionally exhausting keeping up.

In the past year, our town's different synagogues, churches and prominent mosque have come together to collect food for a...

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