What is love? The word is used in so many ways and is so fundamental to Judaism, yet its meaning is so elusive that it is often difficult to know what it actually means to say that you love someone.
Perhaps the root of the difficulty lies in our having forgotten the essence of who we are as human beings. In our modern, technological world, many of us have lost touch with the Jewish understanding that each and every one of us is a holy soul. In Genesis 2:7, we read: “And God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.”
We learn from the...Read More
On the twelfth of February, 1809, slightly more than 200 years ago, a young, poor illiterate woman from Virginia, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, gave birth to a son in a log cabin built along the banks of the south fork of Nolin Creek, near what is now Hodgenville, Kentucky. That baby, whom she named Abraham, grew to become one of our greatest, and most tragic, national leaders. Lincoln was a man of great spiritual conviction. Yet – and I find this fact fascinatingly instructive – Abraham Lincoln is the only American president not to have declared himself a member of any particular religious faith....Read More
When I was in fifth grade, my teacher, Mr. Lynch, told my class that he does charity for ALS. He mentioned he had two teachers who were diagnosed with the disease, one of whom unfortunately passed away. Mr. Lynch’s other teacher, Mr. Christopher Pendergast, has been battling ALS for 21 years, and started a nonprofit organization called ALS Ride for Life in 1997, which he still runs. Mr. Pendergast came to my school with his wife to speak about his charity with our class. Every May, he and his “PALS” (people with ALS) ride in their wheelchairs from...Read More
It is February so let’s talk about love.
What is love? How do you define a relationship? Do you call her nicknames like “The Homeland” or “Zion” or maybe even “ha’aretz (the land)?”
Do you send presents to her family and come visit for the holidays? What does she do to make you feel closer? Engaged? Mostly, how do you do all this when the object of your affection isn’t even a person but a country?
In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't always been the biggest Zionist, but Zionism is a big word. Realistically, I would say I didn’t always love or appreciate...Read More
Generally speaking, I'm not easily offended - but I did have a problem with this blessing the first time I stumbled upon it:
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu, melech haolam, meshaneh ha briot. Blessed be the One who created us differently.
How dare the Talmudic rabbis direct others to offer a blessing because I am different?
During Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, I consider this blessing. I now look beyond what seems like a judgment call toward others and embrace what I believe to be...Read More