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Archive: September 2023

In the Same Boat: Noah, Jonah and the Big Question – Yom Kippur

Posted on September 25, 2023

There is a teaching in the Talmud that, on Rosh Hashana, God opens not one Book, but three. The perfectly righteous are immediately inscribed in the Book of Life. The thoroughly wicked are immediately inscribed in the Book of Death. And a third book is designated for those who are beinoni, somewhere in between, whose Continue Reading »

Lighting New Fires: Retelllng the Story of the Baal Shem Tov – Kol Nidre

Posted on September 24, 2023

There is a beautiful story about the 18th century Hasidic master the Baal Shem Tov, retold here by storyteller Noa Baum: “It is told that in every generation there are times when hope threatens to leave this world. At such times, the Baal Shem Tov, the great Jewish mystic, would go into a secret place Continue Reading »

Shabbat as an Act of Resistance – Rosh Hashana

Posted on September 16, 2023

Shana tovah and Shabbat Shalom! Every year, people ask me whether the Jewish holidays are going to be early or late. This year, I was able to say: they are at exactly the perfect time. They start after Labor Day, they’ll end before the long weekend in October, and three of the four festival days Continue Reading »

What Makes Us Human? – erev Roshana

Posted on September 15, 2023

Shana tovah and Shabbat Shalom! I’m so grateful to be here with you to celebrate this New Year. Occasionally, some well-meaning person will ask me if I write all of my own sermons. The people asking this question have either a) never interacted with me when I am trying to finish a sermon or b) Continue Reading »

Finding Holiness in Life’s Middles

Posted on April 16, 2023

Last Shabbat’s d’var Torah on parshat Shemini. One question I often get when we open the Torah is “how many letters are there in the scroll?” There is a rabbinic teaching that there are 600,000 letters in the Torah, one for each of the Israelites who stood at Sinai to receive it. This may be Continue Reading »

Purim Jews and Pesach Jews

Posted on April 16, 2023

D’var Torah from April 7, 2023 at Congregation Kol Ami. When I was a kid, cereal commercials used to boast that their product was “part of a balanced breakfast.” At the time this was just noise to me—kind of like the side effects listed in a drug commercial. But I realize now that what these Continue Reading »

The Opposite of Faith

Posted on March 10, 2023

This week’s d’var Torah on Ki Tissa and moving through a liminal season. Before I moved back to Philadelphia, I lived for three years in a town in the lower Hudson Valley that is often the butt of jokes. At one point I remarked to some people in my congregation, “Growing up, I always thought Continue Reading »

Compare and Despair: A Purim Story

Posted on March 3, 2023

This week’s d’var Torah in anticipation of Purim! On Monday night, we will celebrate Purim, a holiday where we escape into a fantasy world. We dress up in costumes, wear masks, and play different characters, sometimes with the help of excessive consumption of sugar or controlled substances. We read a story that at times is Continue Reading »

And Sarah Laughed

Posted on November 11, 2022

  This week’s d’var Torah on parashat Vayera and the meaning of laughter. With gratitude to Rabbi Adam Lavitt for his teaching on ednah in this week’s Creative Commentary Class for the Jewish Studio Project. וַתִּצְחַ֥ק שָׂרָ֖ה בְּקִרְבָּ֣הּ לֵאמֹ֑ר אַחֲרֵ֤י בְלֹתִי֙ הָֽיְתָה־לִּ֣י עֶדְנָ֔ה וַֽאדֹנִ֖י זָקֵֽן׃ And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “Now that I am withered, am I to Continue Reading »

Rest as Resistance: Sabbath as Protest

Posted on October 21, 2022

  This week’s d’var Torah on Bereishit, the commandment to rest, and Tricia Hersey’s new book Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto. I spend a lot more time on social media than is probably healthy or productive. I’ve had to put up all sorts of technological barriers and guardrails to keep me from “doomscrolling” all the Continue Reading »