Shabbat Naso: Lift Every Face

We have passed thirteen weeks of social isolation now; a most disconsolate tally, longer than our Sefirat haOmer count and much more uncertain. We try to remain patient, and struggle to contain our fears of contagion into vessels of reasonable size. Shabbat comes again, once more without the chance of seeing our Torah in ourContinue reading “Shabbat Naso: Lift Every Face”

Shabbat Nitzavim: We Stand Together Even When Miles Apart

I’m so tired of “well this Jewish employee doesn’t do X so it can’t be a Jewish thing.” –  tweeted on Thursday September 26 2019, 138 “likes”   You don’t have to speak Twitter, understand “likes” or use social media at all to feel the frustration that prompted that posting. We Jews, and those whoContinue reading “Shabbat Nitzavim: We Stand Together Even When Miles Apart”

Praying After Pittsburgh

I am a Rabbi who is privileged to serve an intentional community which takes the form of an independent congregation. We are the only Jewish congregation on the east side of Portland Oregon. We are not only independent but young – only 15 years old – and thus tend to carefully think through our everyContinue reading “Praying After Pittsburgh”

Shabbat Akharei Mot-Kedoshim: Choices Don’t Free You, They Distract You

On any given day, we are confronted with choices, and have to make a decision regarding how best to choose; that is, how best to live. In some ways we imagine that our lives are so much better than our ancestors, who, we presume, made their choices from a much narrower range of options, andContinue reading “Shabbat Akharei Mot-Kedoshim: Choices Don’t Free You, They Distract You”

Asara b’Tevet: Countdown to January 20 2017

Yesterday the countdown began, although you may not have noticed. Yesterday was Asara b’Tevet, a minor fast day in Judaism which marks the day on which the Babylonian Empire laid siege to the ancient walls of Jerusalem. It was created as a fast day because that day was the beginning of the end for the ancientContinue reading “Asara b’Tevet: Countdown to January 20 2017”

Shabbat Sh’lakh-L’kha: When the Safe Choice is a Dead End

This week in our parashah it all goes wrong, suddenly. Moses sends twelve scouts, each of them a leader of a tribe, to survey the land just ahead, the Land to which G*d promised to lead them. We are literally there already – until the Promised Land abruptly becomes a place to far to reachContinue reading “Shabbat Sh’lakh-L’kha: When the Safe Choice is a Dead End”

Shabbat Ki Tisa: You, Too, Belong to Shabbat

This parashat hashavua is famous for a terrible breach in the relationship between G-d and the People Israel. That golden calf tends to overshadow the rest of the parashah even for those of us on the Triennial Cycle, who only read that specific passage once in three years! This year we read the first thirdContinue reading “Shabbat Ki Tisa: You, Too, Belong to Shabbat”

Shabbat Mishpatim: Kavanah is in the Details

In contrast to other religious paths, Judaism offers spiritual growth within a clear and coherent framework. The word halakhah – our “path” – is understood more commonly as our “law” because of the many mitzvot (“obligations”) which serve us as signposts along the way. Our parashat hashavua for this week contains fifty-three such mitzvot, and eachContinue reading “Shabbat Mishpatim: Kavanah is in the Details”

Shabbat VaYeshev: Choices and Exile

In this week’s parashah we follow Joseph down to Egypt. This is a time of terror for him: his brothers sell him as a slave and he is taken far away from home. He is bought by a minister to Pharaoh and seems to be doing well; he gains his master’s trust and is putContinue reading “Shabbat VaYeshev: Choices and Exile”

Shabbat Yitro: What does the Voice of G-d Sound Like?

This week parashat Yitro calls us to stand once again at the foot of a mountain as a people, brought together not by lines of descent but by a willingness to go forward, to cross over, to live with uncertainty in the hope of reaching a vision. One of the most compelling uncertainties of Jewish religious tradition centers onContinue reading “Shabbat Yitro: What does the Voice of G-d Sound Like?”