I grew up in a one-size-fits-all Judaism that, in fact, fit very few. There was one service to attend, one way to pray, and little if any room to experiment with other ways to connect to the sacred. Now, we live in a society that demands choice.
It started when my son Shmuel began screaming. He'll be 3 soon, but sees himself as an invincible warrior. He slipped, fell and needed stitches. Since it was Shabbat, we made careful consideration to respect the sanctity of the religious laws while making sure not to jeopardize our son's health.
The practice of Shabbat is not only a spiritual response to the timeless commandment given to my ancestors to keep the Sabbath holy. It is a political act. I am keeping the Sabbath radical. That too is my heritage.
A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend showed me an ad they had seen on Craigslist titled "Seven Single White Jewish Males Looking to Host Seven Single Females for Shabbat Dinner." So, duh I responded, duh I got picked, and duh I went.
For some in the Jewish world, the Kiddush has become an elaborate feast at which sumptuous food and fine wines and liquors are offered to those, both members and guests, who come to pray. This new phenomenon is healthy in some ways and deeply unsettling in others.
The eruv vividly demonstrates the dynamism of Judaism through the Jews' steady re-interpretation and adaptation of their tradition in harmony with the world around them. Yeshiva University Museum is currently presenting an exhibition, "It's a Thin Line," on the topic.
Scripture in hand, American faith leaders are encouraging their congregations to develop gardens to grow vegetables for the poor, install solar panels, implement a range of energy-conserving measures and more in an increasing effort to improve how we care for creation.
Every year, on Friday night, the Forum hosts a Shabbat meal that, longtime attendants say, started with a handful of people, including leading Israeli economists, but now boasts world leaders and Jewish personalities from around the globe.
Learning is a life-long process, and it is never a simple journey from A to B to C -- it's a zigzag journey, and often requires several false starts. Indeed, making mistakes -- and learning from them -- is crucial for our sense of growth.
There is nothing wrong with loving work. It is good to enjoy our professions and to support our families. However, there is a line that is very easy to cross, where we become servants to our jobs, and not simply because of our employers, but because of ourselves.
What does my son get out of attending services? Is it spirituality? Is it comfort? I'm not entirely sure, and he's not old enough to articulate it. Whatever it is, our son is developing an appetite for temple, and as his enthusiasm grows, so does mine.
There is nothing sweeter in this life than blessing one's children, especially on a Friday night. When Anna and Adam were little I'd drop to my knees to so that they could look into my eyes and tacitly understand that blessing them was an act of thanksgiving and humility for me.
Friday nights can become more than the end of the week. They can be transformed into evenings dedicated to bringing people together, sharing meals and gratitudes, creating memories and community, savoring every bite, every minute together, around the table.