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The Plague of Survivalism (Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein | Posted 12.26.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein

In the Torah portion for this week (Vayigash), Joseph, having grown in power and influence in Egypt after his brothers left him for dead in the desert many years before, now reveals his true identity to his assembled siblings.

Protest and God's Presence (Isaiah 61:10-62:3)

Brian Bantum | Posted 12.22.2014 | Religion
Brian Bantum

While every year is filled with its triumphs and its terrors, 2014 has been a year that has felt particularly fraught. It is not because this is a year where evil and terror appeared from nowhere, surprising us in our general euphoria or mundane lives.

A Hanukkah 'Raga': An Ecological Reflection

Laura Bellows | Posted 12.19.2014 | Religion
Laura Bellows

Rabbi Katy Allen teaches that Hanukkah is a time to rededicate ourselves to the holy and hard work of responding to climate change. She writes that we "increase our holiness by rededicating ourselves to reducing our carbon footprint."

The Self-Righteous System and the Prophetic Task (2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16)

Brennan Breed | Posted 12.16.2014 | Religion
Brennan Breed

On December 8, an Orlando-area police officer shot Cedric Bartee, an African-American man, while he was unarmed and allegedly standing with his hands in the air. The sheriff asked the public to trust that the justice system will discover the "truth."

The Power of the Powerless (Parshat Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1-40:23)

Rabbi Toba Spitzer | Posted 12.09.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Reading Tamar's story in light of recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island, as thousands of people take to the streets to demand changes in our justice system, the Torah poses to us today this question: What happens when those in power fail to acknowledge their errors?

You Don't Want to Be a Prophet (Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11)

Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto | Posted 12.09.2014 | Religion
Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto

When God calls you to some holy task, you might expect a contemplative path, a quiet life of service and love of neighbor. You might expect a comfortable life of piety and hopefulness, grace and caring. But true prophets know better.

'I and I' (Parshat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4-36:42)

Stephen Hazan Arnoff | Posted 12.03.2014 | Religion
Stephen Hazan Arnoff

Vayishlach begins with our hero on the run. Recall that Jacob emerges from his mother Rebekah just moments after his twin brother Esau; in adulthood, with his mother's help, he tricks his blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for the firstborn.

Voices Crying Out: Comfort and Transformation in an Age of Mass Incarceration (Isaiah 40:1-11)

David G. Garber, Jr | Posted 12.01.2014 | Religion
David G. Garber, Jr

While we might look at that confession and question God's fairness, this probably came as a word of hope to the exiles. There is a sense of vindication in God's confession, and with that vindication, comes the confidence in a God who holds the power to make things right.

Release. Repair. Restore: Thoughts Beyond Ferguson Toward Racial Healing

The Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D. | Posted 11.27.2014 | Religion
The Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D.

Now is the time, and we are the ones, to release and liberate ourselves from bondage to racism, to repair what is broken in our nation, to restore peace born of justice in the streets.

The Long Journey of Cultivating Gratitude (Parshat Vayetze, Genesis 28:10-32:3)

Judith Rosenbaum | Posted 11.25.2014 | Religion
Judith Rosenbaum

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving -- which for many of us is less about gratitude and more about consumption, consumerism and perhaps some family discord. Dedicating time to be grateful is hard; American culture doesn't help us much.

It's Time Again: Depression and the Holidays (Isaiah 64:1-9)

Barbara Kay Lundblad | Posted 11.25.2014 | Religion
Barbara Kay Lundblad

The days from Thanksgiving to Christmas are a time of amplified loss and a time of amplified caring. Some congregations plan a "Blue Christmas" service to acknowledge feelings of loss, anxiety and depression. These honest, holy gatherings assure people they are not alone.

Something New, Higher and Unexpected (Parshat Toldot, Genesis 25:19 - 28:9)

Adina Allen | Posted 11.20.2014 | Religion
Adina Allen

Jews are known as the People of the Book. This designation speaks to Judaism's focus on the intellect, its emphasis on theological argumentation and dedicated study. However, it is clear from the Torah that Jews also come from a long line of people rooted in the earth.

The Most Important RSVP from Pope Francis

Catherine Nagle | Posted 11.18.2014 | Religion
Catherine Nagle

I have seen examples of people ending a marriage only to realize later that they hadn't been so bad off after all. In the Church, discernment, listening to our hearts, and deep prayer and meditation, are all called for before entering into or ending such a union.

Jesus, Poor People and the Underside of Thanksgiving (Matthew 25: 31-46) by Billy Honor

Billy Honor | Posted 11.21.2014 | Religion
Billy Honor

I love Thanksgiving. I love the food, the fellowship, the friends and family, the football and did I mention that I love the food. Unashamedly it might very well be my favorite holiday. Yet, despite all my warm feelings about Thanksgiving, I am not blind to its historical shortcomings.

Honoring the Past by Looking Forward (Parshat Chayyei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick | Posted 11.12.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick

Reading this week's Torah reading is almost physically painful. The parasha (Torah reading) -- named after "Sarah's life," but beginning with her death -- begins with the elaborately described process of Abraham's acquiring a burial place for his wife.

Should Christians Be Afraid of Ebola or Climate Change or ISIS or...? (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto | Posted 11.14.2014 | Religion
Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto

Ebola, war, conflict, economic turmoil, political victories, political losses: This is the stuff of the nightly news. And everywhere we look we have a new villain to worry about, a new threat against which we ought to brace, a new sense of hopelessness.

Resting Beneath the Tree (Parshat Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24)

Ariel Mayse | Posted 11.04.2014 | Religion
Ariel Mayse

The Maggid would ask us to apply this way of thinking to the world around us as well, and to our own lives. His teaching calls us to examine even seemingly ordinary moments, and to sense how holiness and The Divine dwell within them.

Since We Have to Wait, We'd Better Get to Work (Matthew 25:1-13)

Matthew L. Skinner | Posted 11.05.2014 | Religion
Matthew L. Skinner

Together, these four parables in Matthew refuse to let us think that the Christian life equals passivity. Each parable commends readiness, whether that readiness involves actively caring for those in God's "house" or meeting the needs of people who suffer.

When We Criticize the Church

Micah J. Murray | Posted 12.28.2014 | Religion
Micah J. Murray

Now we're searching for life in its pages, and questioning much of what we've been taught. We'll get some things wrong, for sure. But that's not because we have "a low view of Scripture"; it's because we still are looking through a glass darkly, and learning to read with eyes wide open.

Wandering and Welcoming (Lech Lecha -- Genesis 12:1-17:27)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld | Posted 12.28.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

As descendants of Abraham and Sarah, both wanderers and welcomers, may our individual and communal homes be open to strangers, and may our hearts be open to the possibilities that strangeness can awaken within us -- wherever we go, wherever we find ourselves.

The School of Life

Catherine Nagle | Posted 12.25.2014 | Impact
Catherine Nagle

Regardless of how we begin our lives, where we've been, what we've done or with whom we have studied, we all have something of value to share with the world.

All Saints' Day: Facing Death (Matthew 5:1-12)

Greg Carey | Posted 12.27.2014 | Religion
Greg Carey

All Saints' Day usually recalls our communion with of our spiritual ancestors throughout the centuries, celebrating our unity with saints as far away as North Africa in the fourth century and as close as our deceased relatives. But All Saints' Day also reminds us of our bond with all believers.

'We Are All Noah Now' (Noah, Genesis 6:9-11:32)

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman | Posted 12.21.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

In order for there to be a second Creation, the first one is undone: The skies darken to hide the light, the waters come together to cover the land, the plants and animals -- except for those lucky enough to be on the ark -- perish.

Reformation Then and Now -- Dismantling Walls Today (Psalm 46)

Dirk G. Lange | Posted 12.20.2014 | Religion
Dirk G. Lange

Psalm 46 continually reminds us that the Reformation is not a celebration of identity but rather the deconstruction of walls, whether those walls be political, cultural, ethnic, economic or religious.

Others, Brothers

Jeremy Benstein, Ph.D. | Posted 12.15.2014 | Religion
Jeremy Benstein, Ph.D.

We have parents, spouses, teachers, critics, publicists and therapists. And most important, we have each other, to be supportively critical, and to help us ask ourselves the really hard and thus the really important questions.