Archive

Why I march for Black Lives Matter

These words were shared as part of a panel with Dr. Buffie Longmire-Avital and Laurel Grauer, with Amy Rogers as moderator, on the topic of “Black Lives Matter from Jewish Perspectives” on August 5, 2020. Questioning is part of human nature. Questioning is...

My words to City Council…

Shared at a Public Forum on July 27, 2020. Thank you for removing the Judah Benjamin memorial from Tryon Street. I and the Jewish community deeply appreciate your work. I speak tonight on the Charlotte Black Upward Mobility & Restorative Justice Resolution that we...

Find comfort? Where? How?

Today is called the Sabbath of comfort. With hundreds of thousands dead and millions sick from COVID-19, where and how are we supposed to find comfort? As Jews, we are experts in facing shattered worlds. In 586 BCE, we witnessed the destruction of our First Temple in...

Holy ground & holy people – Selma & Representative John Lewis

In my mind, Selma is a place of holy ground – a place where a bloody civil rights battle was fought. The bridge serves as the perfect metaphor for the work we are called to today. We need to move forward to transform our country from a place of empty promises of...

Change starts with me

Like many of us, the famous Rabbi Salantar looked at the world and was tortured by the injustice and pain he saw. As a youth, he set his sights on changing the world as so many of us do. After some time, he found it difficult to change the world so he tried to change...

A physical virus helps us see our historic virus

[These were my words at the June 15, 2020 Restorative Justice CLT Teach-In.] As I do this work, I keep this image of Jonathan Ferrell on my desk. In 2015, when the email came asking if any clergy would be willing to be a part of support team for a mother, Mrs. Georgia...

20/20 and 2020 – A year of perfect vision or not?

“I always thought 2020 was going to be a hopeful year… Then I was dreadfully wrong… Then, perhaps, I was right.” For the past 18 years I had high hopes for the year 2020. Since the day my youngest child entered kindergarten, I would daydream about his graduating high...

Memorial Days and Trumpets

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. My father and father-in-law served in the United States Army. We have memorial days in many countries and we have memorial days in the Torah. Just as trumpets play “Taps” today as a cry and call for peace, so...

Celebrating the moms of our world

There is a Yiddush proverb that says that “God could not be everywhere so God created mothers.” Today we celebrate the mothers of our world — our own mothers; mothers who are essential workers and healthcare workers; mothers who are working; mothers...

A New Way of Marking Time: Before Corona (BC) and After Corona (AC)

We know that life and the world have changed. There will be a new way of marking time. There will be BC – Before Corona, and there will be AC – After Corona. In the meantime, we are in the middle. In the religious realm, this time is what we call liminal....

Passover and the Power of Opening Doors

The holiday of Passover teaches us about the power of opening and closing doors. Both are critical to saving life. To lift your Seder with meaning and relevance, click here for a 2020 Passover Seder Supplement 2020. Photo by Diane...

A Passover Seder Supplement for 2020

The Haggadah is a tool for imparting the lessons of the past to the next generation. We are meant to apply the Biblical stories of oppression to the present so that we can create a future of equality, peace, and justice for all. Jewish tradition teaches: “Whoever...

Corona – the test

As I began revising a test to give my students to evaluate their learning this semester, I got to thinking about the test of Corona. Corona… a test of our patience – how long can we endure? a test of our faith – when will it end? how will it end? a test of our...

Corona and the art of patience – a Mussar teaching for today

In my family we have an ongoing joke. We stopped calling days Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday and so on, we just call it “day.” While thankfully, my family is able to teach and study and work as part of our daily routines, still the monotony of being in severely limited...

We are one – writing our Corona legacy

We are writing our collective Corona legacy. Foremost among all teachings will be that we are one as a world. Today we are one. We are one in our appreciation for shelter to shelter in place, for food that sustains us, and technology that connects us. We are one in...

Where do you find light in the darkness?

Jewish mystics teach us to lift up the shattered shards of our world in order to bring healing. Each time we encounter darkness – the darkness of headlines or the darkness on social media or the darkness of despair that some might be feeling, we need to do our...

Sacrifices Large and Small – Day 12

Sacrifices stand at the center. Sacrifices are at the center of the Five Books of Moses.  This week, the Jewish world opens Leviticus, the middle book of the Torah, and reads of the sacrifices that Moses called the Israelites to offer as they stood at Mt. Sinai....

Darkness and Light – Day 11

As the virus progresses globally, the darkness become greater. The news raises the volume on despair. According to Jewish mysticism, with the world’s creation came a shattering of vessels containing God’s light. Shards scattered everywhere, hidden for later...

How? Lamentation for your city and mine

[The Book of Lamentations is read on Tisha B’av – the day on which the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem were destroyed.  The texts in italics are quotes from the Hebrew Bible.] How deserted is the city, so once full of people!  (Lamentations 1:1) The stores...

Mother’s Day in England & honoring parents in the era of Corona

Honoring our parents is one of the most important commandments in Judaism. The sages put it on par with honoring the Divine. No matter how much we do for our mothers and fathers, it is a commandment that can never be completely fulfilled. When we are young, it is a...

The Real Me

Without hair color, our age will be shown. Without a uniform of suits heading to work, our everyday garb will be revealed. Without daily routines of shaving, mens’ beards will be increasing. No manicures, no pedicures, no haircuts — real nails and unstyled...

Moving to mobilization – are you in?

It has become clear that we need a campaign to support our healthcare workers in their war on Corona. They are on the frontlines fighting the war on Covid-19 and do not have what they need to keep themselves, their families, or their patients safe. Gloves, masks, eye...

Simplicity – Full Stop

We hesitate to reflect on silver linings, fearful of what tomorrow might bring. We appreciate the simplicity of today, recognizing the ways in which we have been held in bondage by our busyness and weighed down by our materials. The swift pace of our lives led us to...

The Coronathon – the marathon we did not sign up for

We are at the start of a marathon for which we had no prep and no training. Some of us don’t run. Some of us can’t run. Some of us don’t want to run. But all of us are in it. The horn was sounded and off we go. Here are some lessons from marathon runners to guide us:...

A prayer for our American healthcare heroes

To our neighbors, friends, and community members who are healthcare workers, Thank you… For leaving your home in a time of social distancing. For doing your sacred work of healing. For subduing your inevitable fears to do your job. For your minds that find treatments....

A new place, a new time, a new way

We are in a new place… one we have never known. A wave of a threatening virus is sweeping across our globe. Disrupting – lives, economies, livelihoods. Disordering dreamed of moments – academic experiences for all ages from field trips to the zoo to study...

Celebrating Jewish Earth Day here and there

As a child, on our Jewish Earth Day called Tu Bishvat, my peers and I would buy trees to plant in Israel. As I grew into a young adulthood, we’d have Tu Bishvat seders. Exploring Jewish mysticism, we’d eat the fruits and drink the wines of Israel – four cups...

Three Freedom Songs – A Jewish Take on Liberation

Delivered at Temple Beth El, January 10, 2020 It feels good to be here on this bima. I love this place. We are blessed with incredibly talented clergy: Rabbi Knight, Rabbi Klass and Cantor Thomas. They have great voices – voices of wisdom, voices of kindness, they...

So today is Jewish and Proud Day…

When I learned that today was Jewish and proud day, it struck me as odd. When I stopped to think about it, for me every day is Jewish and proud day. I am proud that our heritage serves as the foundation for the Christian and Muslim faiths who represent billions of...

Never and Again – This time an attack on a home Chanukah Party

We pray “never again” in response to the violent escalation of antisemitism or any hate and yet it is happening again and again. In the summer of 2018, I began my studies for a doctoral program at the Hebrew Union College.  In a course for my major in American Jewish...

Evolving and Devolving

Written for Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 2019) and Veteran’s Day (November 11, 2019) Language evolves. Research evolves. Learning evolves. We have been told to expand our language. November 9-10, 1938, was called Kristallnacht – a night of broken glass. Today...

On this holy day, a confessional for all

[Published as an Op-Ed in the Charlotte Observer on Yom Kippur, October 9, 2019] Tonight starts Yom Kippur – a time that Jews across the globe spend in fasting, prayer, and atonement. For 25 hours, we acknowledge and repent of our personal wrongdoing, as well as the...

9/11 – Where do we find faith?

[A reflection for a faculty meeting at Queens University of Charlotte.] Today is 9/11. Our Freshman were born the year of the 9/11 tragedy. Our sophomores, juniors and seniors were toddlers. Our traditional undergrads were born into a world where planes were hijacked,...

El Paso, Dayton, your town, my town

El Paso, Dayton,your town, my town. The El Paso Del Sol Trauma Medical Director said:“It was a long night and long day.” I would add –it has been a long year.Dayton marks the 250th U.S. mass shooting in 2019. In El Paso, the chain of healing started at the...

People plan. God laughs.

[Delivered at Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church, July 14, 2019 & Temple Beth El, July 19, 2019. Based on Parashat Balak and Haftarah on Micah.] “Der mensch tracht, un gott lacht – Man plans and God laughs.” There’s a Yiddush expression: “Der Mensch...

Clergy, Moral Courage, and Reproductive Rights

Being clergy calls for moral courage and being a voice for those who are voiceless. Women facing one of the most painful life decisions of choosing to terminate a pregnancy need religious leaders who support a woman’s right to choose to be a voice for them. Last...

What are we teaching our children?

“Say No to HB 370” Press Conference & Interfaith Clergy Rally to Protect our Immigrant Neighbors We stand here today not as politicians but as religious leaders – committed to faith, committed to the faithful, committed to the oppressed, committed to...

Hate is strong, we are far stronger

Another sacred day. Another sacred space. Another assault rifle in the hands of a hater shattering our sanctuary, shattering our time of sanctity, and our sense of safety. Schools. Houses of worship. Lockdowns. Sirens. Synagogues. Death. Silence. Sadness. A sense of...

Getting Lost in the Logistics of Passover and Finding Our Way Forward

In preparing for Passover it is so easy to get lost in the logistics – the guest list and the table settings, the matzah and the menu. The seder is such an elaborate meal. The Shabbat before Pesach calls us to plan ahead with intention. This coming Shabbat has a...

Charlotte Talks: Unity Among Different Faiths

Honored to be on Charlotte Talks this morning with capable and passionate partners in dialogue. The topic was antisemitism and Islamophobia. Imam John Ederer, Imam, Muslim Community Center Charlotte Naqash Choudhery, director of outreach, Islamic Society of...

The Holocaust – what day should we remember?

Most of us do not know the precise day our relatives were murdered. We are thus left with an empty calendar. What day should we choose to remember them? Perhaps the summer’s 9th of Av, the Jewish people’s historic day of tragedy. On this day we mourn the exiles, the...

Thanksgiving – a simple concept and a complex equation

On one hand, Thanksgiving is a simple concept. It is a day beautiful in its simplicity. Its centerpiece is simply a meal. It belongs not to one faith but to all Americans. No religious services are required. No complex liturgies are recited. On the other hand,...

Our greatest fears realized…

Our greatest fears realized. Our greatest fears so terrorizing that we never utter them out loud. What if during our prayers, during our simchas (our celebrations), during our Sabbath morning Torah study This morning our greatest fears were put into words not as a ...

So why do we fast on Yom Kippur?

To follow in the footsteps of our parents and grandparents. To affirm our connection with our community and our people. To afflict our souls. To be moved to repentance. To show our piety. To challenge ourselves so we know that we are not dependent on food alone. To...

Rosh Hashanah – The Birthday of Humanity

Tonight, with the sun’s setting, a new Jewish Year will be born. While we tell our children it is the birthday of the world, it is really a celebration of the birthday of humanity. Rosh Hanashanah celebrates the day on which the first human beings were created in the...

Time Flies – A Prayer for the New Academic Year

Time flies… the older we get the swifter its pace seems to be. Time flies… so fast that we can miss the remarkable moments only appreciating them in our memories once they are gone. Author of time, help us to appreciate the time we have. Help us to celebrate the...