Be quiet and listen. Just listen. The voices of the American people are crying out to you. Some are rejoicing. Some are in anguish, but all have a voice that deserves to be heard. One of the strengths of our great country is that it is a melting pot of diverse backgrounds and heritages. For over 200 years, we have been known as a beacon of opportunity to the world. Your ancestors and mine traveled to this country seeking a better life. And, we all want a better life for our children. So I urge you to please listen. Listen to the voices of every American as she or he tells you what they need to make their lives and the lives of their children better. Some will speak about economic opportunity. Some may voice concerns about the safety of our country and American values. Some may speak of their own personal safety and protecting their civil rights. Some may not be able to speak. Their voices have been systematically suppressed. Even these people, need to be invited to speak and be heard. Every person has a story, and, to lead the United States, it is imperative that you listen to these stories in order to truly understand the people and what they need.
What does it take to be a “player” in Jewish life? No, not that kind of “player.” I mean, what does it take to be a responsible and influential participant in the Jewish communal life you want? It’s a provocative question – and it’s supposed to be. The answer puts you (yes, you) – not just rabbis and other spiritual leaders – in the power seat of what the Jewish future will be.
I just returned from a congregational mission trip to Cuba yesterday. It is quite possibly one of the most interesting and eye-opening journeys I have ever taken. Less than 24 hours after my return I’m still absorbing all of the experiences and only just beginning to sort in my mind what these experiences meant and what I learned from them. Cuba is a country of complexity and contradictions. It is some of what you have heard or imagined it to be, while also being entirely different from much of what you have heard or imagined. It is a place where the people are far less free in many ways and yet more free in other ways than we are in the USA.
Over the course of more than 18 years in the rabbinate, there has been one question that I was asked at every interview for any congregational rabbinic position – will I officiate at an interfaith wedding?
I will be marching in the Women’s March on January 21, 2017 in Washington DC because I must. It is that simple. I must be there.
A strange thing happened in the wake of the election, and is intensifying now that the inauguration is next week.
A few nights ago I made a presentation for ‘Noar Shorashim’, the Roots Initiative youth group that brings together high school age kids from the Jewish settlements of Gush Etzion and from the neighboring town of Beit Umar and nearby Palestinian villages. They meet three times a month, planning their own social and educational programs. I talked to them about the personal transformation that I had undergone in meeting the Palestinian ‘other’ just three years ago, and about how we founded Roots with the mission of bringing the two sides together to deeply get to know the other and thereby create understanding and empathy.
New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep. So in the past I did not bother at all. This year, is different, I’m all in. But I’m relying on the do-over.
I recently read an article in the New York Times about Charles F. Feeney, whom the headline calls the “James Bond of Philanthropy.” I had never heard of Mr. Feeney previously, but I was so impressed by what I read, that I took some time to learn more about him.
Last week, my phone wouldn’t charge. Since it was still under warranty, I got a loaner phone while it was shipped to Texas to get fixed, and since everything was in the cloud — my contacts, my apps, my calendar — I barely even noticed.