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Outdoor services offering kid-friendly, informal or abbreviated worship, and camp-style music are popular during the summer. Here’s a sampling of good ol’ summertime Shabbat celebrations in some Reform congregations across North America.

On the Patio

Woodlands Community Temple in Greenburgh, N.Y., often uses its own outdoor spaces for services. They’re about an hour long and end before the last sunlight fades. At University Synagogue in Los Angeles, CA, new chairs, lighting, and sound make Shabbat Under the Stars “a truly special experience,” where the liturgical choices –... Read More

Menahem Mendl of Kotsk, one of the outstanding leaders of early nineteenth-century Hasidism, was reared by a learned father who also was an outspoken opponent of Hasidism. When he realized that his young son was veering away from normative Judaism toward Hasidism, he rebuked him and attempted to bring him back to the fold.

Young Menahem Mendl responded to his father’s admonitions by quoting the following verse from Exodus 15, along with a novel commentary: 

 This is my God, and I will glorify Him, the God of my father, and I will exalt him. 

“‘This is my God...

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Our vocal response to hate is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18), in Hebrew pronounced “ve’ahavta lere’acha kamocha” and written ואהבת לרעך כמוך! This prayer is shared memoriam of the victims of racist terror and massacre of LGBT people in Orlando, FL, last Sunday; it follows my earlier prayer, “For Orlando, For the USA."

In the end, love wins.

Love Wins: A Pride Prayer

One day, the words ‘coming out’ will sound strange, Oppression based on gender or orientation will be a memory, History to honor and remember, The pain of hiding, repressing, denying, Honoring...

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In Orlando early Sunday, 49 people died in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S history, in an act of domestic hate and terror focused on a popular gay nightclub. This is a prayer of shock, mourning, and consolation, incorporating quotes from a man who escaped the club and said, “there was blood, blood everywhere” and “it was chaos.” It’s based on another prayer I wrote called "After a Deadly Rampage." May the memories of the righteous be a blessing.

For Orlando, For the USA

There was blood everywhere. Forty-nine dead. And blood everywhere.

Author of life, Source and...

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It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it, and all its supporters are happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace. -- Proverbs 3:18

Recently in my congregation, while holding fast to the Torah, we didn’t hold fast enough – literally – and it accidentally fell to the floor during a Shabbat service.

Such occurrences are rare, and fortunately the scroll did not sustain any damage. Still, Jewish tradition prohibits a Torah scroll from touching the ground – and it also provides us with a path toward restoring its sacred status when the...

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