Which Judaism is the Authentic One?

Last week I met one of my neighbors, an Orthodox Jewish woman. She asked what I do for a living, and I said I’m a rabbi. She hesitated for a moment, digesting the information, as other Orthodox neighbors have done when they first hear this (my family moved recently, so we’re still meeting our new neighbors). Then she asked where, and whether it is a Reform synagogue (it is).

Posted on May 31, 2016

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What Makes A Rabbi A Rabbi?

Rabbis are rabbis in no small part by the work they do, pastoral, ritual, social justice, organizational, all informed by a sense of responsibility to the community and to tradition. But at the moment of ordination, that moment before the work of the rabbinate begins, in earnest, what makes a rabbi a rabbi is the education that she has acquired and her commitment to bring the values and vision of that education into the work she will do in her rabbinate.

Posted on May 30, 2016

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Is Gossip Always Evil?

It’s pretty clear that Judaism doesn’t like the idea of gossip. In fact, the Hebrew phrase for gossip is “lashon hara,” “the evil tongue.” “The evil tongue kills three people,” the Talmud teaches us. “The gossiper, the person who listens to it, and the person about whom it is said.” (Arachin 15b) As the Rabbis further remind us, in  many ways, gossip is worse than stealing, because while you can repay what you’ve stolen, once you harm someone’s reputation, that harm can never be undone.

Posted on May 26, 2016

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Like God, I Am Prismatic

Although it might be awkward to articulate the breadth and depth of human qualities we aspire to, it is not difficult to speak our high dreams for our children – that they be loving and compassionate, serene, joyful, full of wonder… And wanting these admirable and sustaining qualities for our children, we know that to imbue them we must emulate them. In other words, we must exemplify the facets of self we wish to promote.

Posted on May 19, 2016

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Advice for B’nai Mitzvah

Rabbi Talks to Bat Mitzvah Girl

The first time I officiated at a bar mitzvah was when I was the visiting rabbi at a young congregation in Virginia during my senior year of rabbinical school. I was a 27-year-old without children and not quite sure what to say to a 13-year-old Jewish teen. My wife was pregnant with our first child, and I was tirelessly trying to determine what advice I’d have for this yet-to-be-born child, let alone come up with some meaningful words of a wisdom for a teenager. I tried to channel what my own rabbi had said to countless bar mitzvah boys and bat mitzvah girls over the years as I sat in that congregation.

Posted on May 18, 2016

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