“…I have set before you life or death, blessing or curse; choose life, therefore, that you and your descendants may live.”
On Yom Kippur morning, we will read those words in our Torah reading as found in our Reform machzorim (holiday prayer books). The passage comes from the Book of Deuteronomy.
“Choose life.” It seems simple enough, logical enough – but for some, it seems impossible.
When I was growing up, family members spoke only in hushed tones about Great Aunt Sukie. Relatives whispered about her problems and eventual suspected suicide, but the subject was...Read More
When people ask me what prompted me to become a rabbi, I often tell them about my love of Jewish learning, or Israel, or a desire to help, or some such noble pursuit. The truth is, what really prompted me to become a rabbi was Chuck Taylor sneakers.
I remember as a kid going to synagogue on Yom Kippur and seeing my rabbi and cantor wearing snow-white Chuck Taylors on the bimah (pulpit). I grew up in a traditional congregation, where many people observed the Jewish prohibition on wearing leather shoes on Yom Kippur. Instead, the rabbi and cantor wore Chucks. How cool is that?... Read More
Every year on the High Holidays, police officers sit outside our synagogue to protect our community and building from harm.
I understand why the police are there. I know the risk that comes with openly celebrating Judaism. And I appreciate their presence…until all their eyes are on me, a man wearing a kippah (head covering) and a gold Star of David necklace who also happens to be a person of color.
When I arrive, the officers stop, get out of their cars, and follow me into the building. They don’t stop pursuing me until the greeter has given the officers a thumbs-up,...Read More
Every year for 30 years, I’ve sat in a temple sanctuary on the High Holidays and watched a movie. It’s a movie only I can see – flashbacks of all the times I recall over the past 52 weeks when I didn’t measure up to the standards of my head, heart, and soul.
Every year, the actors, scenery, and dialogue change, but somehow the errors of my ways seem, fundamentally, the same. And so, year in and year out, I find myself pondering an identical thought: How can I really be better next year?
The truth is, after 30 years’ worth of acknowledgements, repentance, and promises, I...Read More
The ducks grow fat on my sins. The ravens, too. I saw a flock of them-- A murderous gaggle, as they swooped down in tight formation, fat black missiles, just after we stood on the bridge over the creek emptying our pockets and plastic bags overflowing with stale bread and old sins.
Of course, not all the bread was stale nor all the sins old. I'm sure I collected a few as I drove to our afternoon gathering at the creek. And, possibly, if I'm being quite honest (and now, I'm guessing, would be the time for honesty) I believe there is the possibility that I racked up several more...Read More
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