Judaism, A House Divided Against Itself

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There was a time when the Jewish community spoke with one voice. The Talmud records the role of the Resh Galuta, the head of the diaspora community, who was specifically appointed by the Jews to speak on their behalf to the powers that be. But that was almost 2000 years ago and is certainly not the case today. We hardly speak with one voice today. This week the New York Times carried an article entitled Iran Deal Opens a Vitriolic Divide Among American Jews. Jewish senators Boxer, Feinstein, and Schatz support the Iran deal, but Chuck Schumer does not. The mudslinging has gotten terrible on both sides. When democratic representative Jerrold Nadler announces support for the Iran deal, there were threats against his life by fellow Jews. Greg Rosenbaum, the chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said, “We are on the verge of fratricide in the Jewish community.”

Posted on September 1, 2015

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Writing the Next Episode of Your Life

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Do you ever watch British TV? I am a fan, a huge fan, especially of the stories that disclose, in episodes that somehow minimize lapses of indeterminate periods of time, everything that has happened since we last took our places as voyeurs into the lives of total strangers. And best of all, they manage to reveal enormous life changes over the course of, say, three days in the lives of the characters. Brilliant! It’s so compact. So crystallized. And they make me wonder…. If I had a great cinematographer and editor filming my life, what would those crystallized glimpses of time have been? What would they reveal about my life, choices, growth and challenges?

Posted on August 28, 2015

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The Elul of Victory and Defeat

Molly Huddle (right) during the 5000m at the 2012 Summer Olympics

Heartbreaking news out of the sports world Monday: At the track and field World Championships in Beijing, American Molly Huddle was close to capturing the bronze medal in the 10,000 meters. As she drew close to the finish line, however, she eased up and raised her arms in victory just a few seconds too early, and her fellow American, Emily Infeld, who was running right behind her, surged forward and captured third place. Infeld took the bronze, and, as we know, there is no medal for fourth place.

Posted on August 26, 2015

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What Should Rabbis Be Speaking About on Rosh Hashanah?

ReadingOfTheTorah aliyah synagogue trope

The High Holy Days are three weeks away. Phone conversations with colleagues nearly always begin with, “Are you ready?” and “What are you speaking about?” Of all the holidays in the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur most lend themselves to sermons: repentance, returning, introspection and relationships are ripe with material and thoughts to present from the pulpit. But I find that more and more colleagues are seeing these topics as low priority in favor of what they see as more pressing needs.

Posted on August 23, 2015

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