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“If I Were a Rich Man”: A Sukkot Reflection

The great sage, Teviyeh, from “Fiddler on the Roof,” gives voice to the universal issues of poverty and wealth with humor and candor as he calls out to God: “It may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. After all, with your help, I’m starving to death. Oh, dear Lord. You made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, it’s no shame to be poor … but it’s no… Read Article →


Between Fragility and Protection

Chol haMoed Sukkot: Exodus 33:12-34:26 My father-in-law was a warm-hearted man who took each day with good cheer and had a smile for everyone. The family therefore chose as the inscription on his grave, “Enjoy life for it is the gift of God”. It’s a quotation, more or less, from Ecclesiastes, which is customarily read this week (in addition to the Torah reading from the Book of Exodus and the… Read Article →


Inhabiting Vulnerability

Parshat Ha’azinu, Deuteronomy 32:1-52 “You may view the land from a distance, but you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelite people” (Deuteronomy 35:52). This week’s Torah reading, Parshat Ha’azinu, ends with this devastating reminder to Moses that despite having led the people out of Egypt and through the trials and tribulations of wilderness for forty years, he will not be allowed to enter the… Read Article →


Write Your Own Song

I was sitting recently with some fellow teachers, discussing the challenge of getting our teenage students to study texts with the depth and attentiveness we think they deserve. One person pointed out that this was particularly difficult when it came to texts they had seen before; passages we thought were worthy of another look, such as verses of Torah, are often dismissed with, “But, we’ve read this before.” What is… Read Article →


Communal Return and Personal Renaissance: What Forgiveness Makes Possible

Parshat Nitzavim, Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20 The promise of profound renewal during the upcoming High Holy Days is tremendous, but whether or not we will merit the fulfillment of that promise depends largely upon us. It depends on what kind of a stance we have toward others, toward ourselves, and toward God. It depends on whether or not we find a way to turn simultaneously in all three directions with forgiveness, acceptance,… Read Article →

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Hebrew College Convocation Kavanah

My 7-year-old son got hearing aids (which we affectionately call ear robots) last week.  We’ve been following his hearing loss for several years but, let’s be honest, it’s pretty hard to tell if a 4 or 5 year old has trouble hearing or just trouble listening.  He’ll wear them for the rest of his life because once you lose hearing, you never regain it. It seems to me that Elul… Read Article →


Welcoming the new academic year

I recently asked a group of interfaith clergy, “Do you ever find yourself responding to needs that people have not exactly articulated, but that you notice?” I was surprised by how affirmatively they answered, and it got me thinking about how hard it really is to articulate our spiritual needs. Just learning to recognize them is deep work. Figuring out how to name them, how to give them voice through… Read Article →


Telling Stories of Trauma for Healing and Compassion

The issue of immigration is capturing heightened attention around the world. A wave of immigrants, including many refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Libya, is finding its way through the Balkans into Europe. Others are crossing the Mediterranean in rickety boats, which all too often sink. In Austria, more than 70 bodies of dead immigrants were found in the back of a truck. In the United States, Donald Trump is seizing… Read Article →


Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller: Cultivating A Heart of Wisdom

The following is excerpted from a eulogy delivered by Rabbi Or Rose, director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College, at the funeral of one of his former students, Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller, on Aug. 27, 2015. Our sages teach us that every person is an “olam katan,” a “little world,” or rendered differently, “a world unto themselves.” I reference this ancient teaching because I am acutely aware… Read Article →