How to Be a “Player” in Jewish Life

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.

Posted on January 19, 2017

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A Fresh Start on Wednesday?

I have been silent from the bima (pulpit) about the election. There have been many discussion in rabbi listservs and Facebook groups of which I am apart about the decision to speak up and if so, what exactly do you say? Clearly no one can speak for or against any one candidate. Not only is that a violation of the 501c3 rules that govern what houses of worship can and cannot do and still remain a nonprofit, but it is also not the job of a rabbi to tell their congregants for whom they should vote.

Posted on November 4, 2016

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The Perfect High Holy Day Sermon You Will Never Hear

This weekend is Rosh Chodesh Elul. For rabbis serving communities across the world, this means one important thing – it is time to buckle down and decide what we want to say in our High Holy Day sermons. Somehow, the High Holy Day sermon has become the World Series for rabbis. It doesn’t seem to matter what you say during the rest of the year – all is forgiven and forgotten except the High Holy Day sermon.

Posted on August 30, 2016

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How My Writer’s Workshop Class was Hijacked by a Colleague

Rabbi Jason Miller Teaching at Kenyon College

This will be my final post for the Rabbis Without Borders blog as I have chosen to focus my time on some of my other writing opportunities. For my final post I intended to write about how critical the Rabbis Without Borders program has been to my rabbinate and my thinking in general about the future of Jewish communities. I certainly could have written about that two days ago and I would have articulated how Clal’s fellowship program has benefitted me in myriad ways and helped to expand my understanding of the “beyond borders” approach we religious leaders should be taking in 21st century Jewish life.

Posted on July 13, 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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When Impostor Syndrome is Good

It’s ordination season. After years of hard work, both theoretical and practical, a number of rabbinic and cantorial students will become real, grown-up clergy this month. My ordination, in 2011, was an overwhelming and momentous experience. This year, I have the honor of being the presenter at the Academy for Jewish Religion’s ordination for my congregation’s rabbinic intern.

Posted on May 3, 2016

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