Shabbat Toldot: Naming our Transgender Children

Today, Friday November 20, is Transgender Day of Remembrance. During Portland’s observance (last night on the eve of the day) we called the names of those who were murdered in the U.S. during this past year for no reason other than their transgender identity.  We remember them, and mourn the loss of these irreplaceable ImagesContinue reading “Shabbat Toldot: Naming our Transgender Children”

Shabbat Lekh-L’kha: Making Light in Darkness

(image: close up in Torah scroll of Genesis 1.4 ויבדל אלהים בין האור ובין החשך G*d divided between the light and the darkness.) Shalom Shir Tikvah learning community, It’s getting darker every day now. How shall we trust our footsteps when we can’t see them? Where is the light that will dispel this hoshekh, thisContinue reading “Shabbat Lekh-L’kha: Making Light in Darkness”

Parashat Korakh: Uprising Time

Five days before this Erev Shabbat, summer time began with the solstice; the perfect balance of day time and night time. Erev Shabbat Korakh is the 103rd day of Coronavirus Time. We don’t yet know what that balance will be. Thursday night Portland saw the thirtieth day of street demonstrations, among the street gatherings thatContinue reading “Parashat Korakh: Uprising Time”

Shabbat Shelakh L’kha: Trust or Fail

In these days of many kinds of prayers, let us consider the nature of Jewish prayer. Jews pray in highly specific ways, teaching us by way of this mindfulness practice a Jewish ethics of existence. The first kind of prayer we see demonstrated in our siddur, our makhzor and any other kind of prayer compilationContinue reading “Shabbat Shelakh L’kha: Trust or Fail”

Shabbat BaMidbar: Now It Gets Scary

Have you begun to ration your news consumption yet? Many of us are finding it the only way to get through a week in these strange and stressful times. Just scanning headlines can feel as if one is absorbing blow after blow of disappointment, concern, anger, and yes, of fear. One source of guidance –Continue reading “Shabbat BaMidbar: Now It Gets Scary”

Shabbat BeHar-BeHukkotai: The Torah of Tokhekhah

COVIDלֹֽא־תִשְׂנָ֥א אֶת־אָחִ֖יךָ בִּלְבָבֶ֑ךָ הוֹכֵ֤חַ תּוֹכִ֙יחַ֙ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א עָלָ֖יו חֵֽטְא׃ You shall not hate your neighbor in your heart. Reprove your neighbor, but incur no guilt because of them. – VaYikra 19.17 On this Shabbat we come to the end of the book VaYikra, Leviticus, and we are confronted by a difficult section of the TorahContinue reading “Shabbat BeHar-BeHukkotai: The Torah of Tokhekhah”

Shabbat Tazria/Metzora: “The One Who is Ill Shall Be Separated from the Camp”

…and other surprisingly relevant aspects of ancient Jewish text in the days of COVID-19 In years past it has been tempting to dismiss this doubled parasha in VaYikra (Leviticus) as superstition at worst and outmoded at best. Because of the focus on skin disease, we laugh at “the dermatologists’ parsha” and wait for more upliftingContinue reading “Shabbat Tazria/Metzora: “The One Who is Ill Shall Be Separated from the Camp””

Shabbat Shemini: Teach Us To Count Our Days

למנות ימינו כן הודע ונביא לבב חכמה Limnot yameynu keyn hoda’ v’navi levav hokhmah “Teach us to count our days that we might acquire a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90.12 “What day is it?” This isolation we are practicing for the sake of public health, and the disruption of the routines that define the daysContinue reading “Shabbat Shemini: Teach Us To Count Our Days”

Shabbat Re’eh: Seeing Hope, Being Blessing

This coming Shabbat is Shabbat Re’eh. We study a parashah named for the command “see!” רְאֵ֗ה אָנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם בְּרָכָ֖ה וּקְלָלָֽה See, this day I set before you blessing and curse (Devarim 11.26) It is the second Shabbat of Consolation, a time in which our tradition urges us to lift up our heads from the searing despair of TishaContinue reading “Shabbat Re’eh: Seeing Hope, Being Blessing”

Shabbat Balak: Fear and Loathing, and a Talking Ass

This week, parashat Balak allows us to appreciate the importance of parables to communicate difficult truths concisely and memorably. As our story opens, one King Balak of Moab hears his people talking about the immigrants – the Israelites – nearing their border:   “This horde will consume everything around us like cows eat all theContinue reading “Shabbat Balak: Fear and Loathing, and a Talking Ass”