Amidst Tragedy, a Vision of the Possible

It begins on the 9th of Av, if we are willing and able to answer the summons A time of national self-assessment for the Jewish people We are counting our way through the Three Weeks – and now the Nine Days – leading to Tisha B’Av. Tisha B’Av, which translates to “the 9th day ofContinue reading “Amidst Tragedy, a Vision of the Possible”

Shabbat Pinhas: The Three Weeks

This year, Shabbat Pinhas is the first Shabbat of the Three Weeks.   These three weeks are the least auspicious period in the entire Jewish year, leading up as they do to Tisha B’Av, the day on which, two thousand years ago, the Second Jerusalem Temple was destroyed. Our people began a two thousand yearContinue reading “Shabbat Pinhas: The Three Weeks”

Shabbat VaYekhi: Your New Day’s Resolution

Taking advantage of what is, interestingly enough after all, only an arbitrary way of calculating a turning point in the counting of our days (why not solstice?), this is the time of year when our society focuses upon the idea of making new year’s resolutions. Jews practice a variation of this idea on Yom Kippur,Continue reading “Shabbat VaYekhi: Your New Day’s Resolution”

Yom Kippur 5778: Who Shall I Say Is Calling?

 In the late 1990s I had the opportunity to teach Jewish history to Jewish high school students. When we came to the part on anti-Semitism, every student in the class insisted to me they had never experienced anti-Semitism personally. I went around telling adults about it all over Portland’s Jewish community. Oh, yes, they allContinue reading “Yom Kippur 5778: Who Shall I Say Is Calling?”

Kol Nidre: thanking the Movement for Black Lives

Why I have to thank the Movement for Black Lives for helping me to clarify my Jewish identity. Once upon a time, years ago during a visit to London, I took a tour to a town called Salisbury where I actually got to see a copy of the Magna Carta. I love historical artifacts, and soContinue reading “Kol Nidre: thanking the Movement for Black Lives”

Yom Kippur 5775: Shabbat Shabbaton, the “Mother of all Shabbatot”

The human being is a messenger who forgot the message. – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel This evening at sundown begins Yom Kippur, a Shabbat like no other. It is called Shabbat Shabbaton, the “Shabbat of Shabbatot” – we might call it “the Mother of all Shabbatot.”  (ShabbatOHT is the plural of Shabbat.) The concept of aContinue reading “Yom Kippur 5775: Shabbat Shabbaton, the “Mother of all Shabbatot””

Shabbat Shuvah: Yir’ah and Trembling

We are now entered into a ten-day period of what are meant to be Days of Awe. Awe is a difficult concept for us – the vibrant, incessant creativity of the English language has turned “awesome” into an appreciative adjective for almost anything. For our ancestors, awe – in Hebrew, yir’ah – meant the emotions thatContinue reading “Shabbat Shuvah: Yir’ah and Trembling”