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Teachings

On Bringing Sacred Gifts and Our Sacred Selves

Last week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel, opens with Moses’ gathering the entirety of the Jewish people together. After reiterating the singular importance of Shabbat observance, specifically focusing on the prohibition of lighting a fire, Moses instructs the people regarding the completion of the Mishkan, or tabernacle, commanding them to bring gifts for this purpose. The people obliged, bringing a surplus of...[ read more ]

A Divine Call for Affirmation

This past week, Jews around the world commenced the reading of the Book of Exodus as part of the annual Torah reading cycle. This past week’s Torah portion, Parashat Shemot, contain important moments between God and Moses that are often glossed over in the popular recounting of Moses’ encounter with God, wherein God tells Moses that he will lead the...[ read more ]

On Disability and Brokenness: A Letter to My Fellow Clergy and Clergy in Formation

This may not be an easy discussion, but it is a deeply, deeply necessary one. The subject I wish to broach today is one that is tremendously difficult for me personally, as it is for many people whom you will encounter in your professional and personal lives. The subject is language—specifically, language related to disability and the impact it can...[ read more ]

A Drash on Parashat Noach

This drash (commentary on the weekly Torah portion) was delivered at JTS on October 5, 2013. Shabbat shalom! In reading and rereading this week’s parsha (portion), I was struck by what our parsha can teach us about proper interpersonal relations and having compassion for others. Our Sages famously do not see Noach as a flawless character, Rashi noting that Noach...[ read more ]

Yom Kippur Kavanah

I am writing this on the eve of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur is a day on which we communally and individually ask for forgiveness for the sins we have committed against God during the previous year and commit to bettering ourselves spiritually for the year ahead. It is a day of deep soul...[ read more ]

On Sinat Chinam, Language, and Bridge-building

As I write this, it is erev Tisha b’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, on which we commemorate a host of tragedies that have befallen us throughout history, primarily the destructions of both Temples (the first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second by the Romans in 70 CE). Our rabbis teach that the Second Temple...[ read more ]

On Disability, Humanity and Dignity

On June 21, 2013, NBC aired a story entitled: “Activists Say Goodwill Exploits Workers with Penny Wages”, about the practice in some, but not all Goodwill stores of paying workers with disabilities wages far below the Federal Minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The wage disparities are legal according to a provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in...[ read more ]

Parashat Emor: Embodied Leadership and Its Discontents

In Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21-24), read this past week in synagogues around the world, we are introduced to the relatives for whom Kohanim (priests) are permitted to mourn, as well as a list of various classes of priests who, owing to a mum (blemish), are barred from performing the sacrificial service in the Mishkan (Leviticus 21:16-21). They include those who...[ read more ]

Towards Acceptance, Holiness and Removing Stumbling Blocks

This week, we are once again reading Parashat Kedoshim (Leviticus 19:1-20:27). Biblical scholars commonly refer to these two chapters of Leviticus as the holiness code due to the numerous interpersonal commandments (mitzvot) that are found within. These mitzvot form the foundation of Torah and are applicable to everyone. In addition to loving our neighbor as ourselves and showing deference to...[ read more ]

A Response to Rabbi Greenberg

Rabbi Greenberg’s personal journey and initial struggles with dialogue resonate very deeply with me. I was moved and inspired not only by his evolving stance towards Christians, but also by the extraordinary examples of Roy and Alice Eckhardt and Sister Rose. Though their work and writings were deeply discomforting and not infrequently offensive to their coreligionists, I feel that their...[ read more ]




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