4 Reasons Why We Are All Listening to Pope Francis

From the middle to the end of last week, I was having conversations about Pope Francis’ speeches each and every day with my congregants. A great many of them were attentively listening to each of his major presentations – to the joint session of congress, at the United Nations, and at the 9/11 memorial. I, too, was drawn in by the pope’s message. Why are Jews, and people of all faiths and no faith so tuned in to the pope’s message?  Here are four reasons:

Posted on September 30, 2015

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Small But Proud Jewish Communities

I grew up in a fairly small Jewish community. In the ’80s, Austin, Texas was not the cool mecca it is today. There was one small Reform synagogue and one small Conservative synagogue. There was only one other Jewish kid in my class in grade school. I remember each year having to explain to my teacher that I would be out for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and having her say, “Russia what?”

Posted on September 28, 2015

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What Are You Doing Tomorrow?

As a rabbi who is blessed with the humbling privilege of leading her congregation, after the High Holy Days have passed, I wonder: Were the souls in attendance inspired by the services, or inhibited by them… or both? Did they discover what they sought? What prayer or message resonated with their heartfelt emotions, and which flowed over and past them like water? Did I choose the best readings? Was the service traditional enough? Innovative enough? Was it sufficiently uplifting while still grounding?

Posted on September 25, 2015

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Shul-Shopping? Don’t Do It Now

A couple of years ago during the High Holidays, I was approached by someone visiting my synagogue for the first time. I welcomed him, and he said he and his wife were looking for a synagogue. “We thought this was the perfect time to check out services.” I was glad they were there, but I believe the High Holidays—Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—are the worst days to experience the personality and atmosphere of a synagogue.

Posted on September 22, 2015

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When White Rabbis Talk About Race

White rabbis are talking about race. Over the last few years, sermons about race and racial issues have come to me occasionally but on the first work day after Rosh Hashanah this year, my social network signaled a shift. From coast to coast, in big and small congregations, in big and small cities, across denominations, white rabbis were talking about race.

Posted on September 21, 2015

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The Purpose of Beginnings and the Beginnings of Purpose

A few years ago, there was a terrific newspaper cartoon from the strip “Non Sequitur” entitled “The Philosophical Showdown.” It showed two men, each carrying a large sign, about to physically run into each other at a street corner. One man’s sign was urging everyone to, “Repent! This could be your last day!” The other man’s sign was reminding everyone to, “Rejoice! Today is the first day of the rest of your life!”

Posted on September 17, 2015

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