I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all from families with some level of dysfunction. It’s a human thing. It’s healthy. Look at the founders of Judaism: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. They all came from dysfunctional families and had dysfunctional families. And look how they turned out. Where else would we learn to cope with all the mishegas (Yiddish: craziness) in our lives? I recently saw This is Where I Leave You, directed by Shawn Levy, and based on the best-selling novel by Jonathan Tropper, featuring Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Tina Fey (30 Rock), and Jane Fonda (...Read More
Several years ago, I launched an educational start-up. I left a wonderful position at a prestigious educational institution. It was a big risk.
It didn’t work out as I hoped.
After teaching Jewish texts for 20 years, I wanted something more: I wanted to bring God back to the conversation.
I had a dream of reviving the most central idea in Judaism – a personal relationship with God. I wanted to create a safe venue where any Jew could explore his or her personal relationship with God. This start-up would be a place where people would be encouraged to articulate...Read More
I like the symmetry of the concept of return.
I like the idea that, no matter how linear we think we are, or time is, or God is, we tend to find a way back. Even God recognizes this view: Why else create t’shuvah (repentance) before ever creating the heavens and the earth?
It’s one of my favorites, this tale of creation. There are 10 things, the rabbis tell us, that were created before God ever created the world. Depending upon the rabbi and the midrash, these included the rainbow, the Burning Bush, and the ram's horn. There were others, like manna and Miriam's well that...Read More
I had the recent pleasure to be invited by a friend on a hike in Los Liones Canyon of Pacific Palisades. It was gorgeous summer day and the trail was steep. We pretty much hightailed it up as fast as our feet would carry us! When we reached the summit we tarried for a few moments-long enough for me to take in the view, snap a picture or two, and do a volcano pose, with my arms stretched up, palms facing one another. I invoked divine energy into my fingertips and down into my heart center for few seconds before a kind voice said, "OK, time to go!" Then we hurried down the mountain trail...Read More
Merriam-Webster defines “diaspora” as “a group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time or in which their ancestors lived.” Because I am Jewish yet living outside of Israel, I am already labeled a Diaspora Jew, but should we coin a new word for someone who qualifies more than once?
I was born in Long Beach, New York, but have lived for decades in the Chicago area. That I live away from my roots is always close to my soul. Diaspora.
And then there is my longer-than-25-year congregation affiliation to a community that closed its doors in...Read More
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