Daughters of Change

This week’s Torah portion (Parshat Pinhas) is one of the two in which Serach, the daughter of Asher, the son of Jacob is mentioned (the other being way, way back in the Book of Genesis). She is an interesting character — one of two whom the midrash claims did not die, but physically entered into the world to come, and like the other such person, it is part of her role to identify redeemers. She first serves to identify Moses as the one who will redeem the Israelites from Egypt, and it is said that she will eventually serve to help identify the messiah. There is also a tradition that she is identified in the time of King David with the wise-woman of Tekoa.

Posted on July 28, 2016

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Towards A More Perfect Union

It’s Monday evening, July 25, and I’m watching the Democratic National Convention. Senator Cory Booker, a dynamic and powerful speaker from my state’s neighbor, New Jersey, is just finishing his speech. Near the beginning of his speech, he said he wanted to share an African saying, which goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I’d never heard that before, and I thought it was amazing. (It may not actually be an African proverb, but it still moved me.) It applies in so many ways.

Posted on July 26, 2016

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What Does It Mean To Be A Teacher?

Picture yourself as an Educational Director or Educator search committee. There is a position open, and you have narrowed the field to two possible candidates. One is dynamic, outgoing, and will be able to involve the students in the educational experience. Unfortunately, his knowledge is suspect and inconsistent. He will make mistakes when he teaches. The other applicant’s knowledge is thorough and deep. However, he is quiet, meek and passive. He lacks the charm and charisma that will engage his students. Whom do you hire?

Posted on July 24, 2016

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A Funeral for a Friend

In my second year of rabbinic school, I was asked to officiate at the funeral of a friend’s dog. I am embarrassed to admit that I thought of the request as a bit foolish. I hadn’t officiated at a human being’s funeral yet and my first funeral was to be one of a dog? I wasn’t sure what Jewish law said on the matter. I wondered if I was acting in a sacrilegious manner.

Posted on July 20, 2016

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Meet Me at 10th Street

Tonight at 6 p.m. we will gather at the 10th Street entrance to Piedmont Park, in spiritual protest of police brutality and in honor of black lives. We will bring our “spiritual tools and gifts to usher in love, peace, and clarity for the road towards justice,” as the Facebook event page instructs. We will assemble in the park to share these gifts, to chant the words #BlackLivesMatter.

Posted on July 19, 2016

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Trusting in the Big Hands of a Gentle Giant

When the facilitator announced that we would be silently working in clay with our partners, I felt a bit of panic well up in my gut. “How could we decide what to create together without even a word of consultation?”, I thought to myself. But without missing a beat, before I even realize what is happening, Fadi’s big hands are molding the small block of clay that sits between us on the table. I am confused. “How can he start without telling me what he wants to make?” Ah yes, he cannot. No words.

Posted on July 18, 2016

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