The Long Journey of Cultivating Gratitude

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Vayetze, Genesis 28:10-32:3
November 25, 2014

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving, which for many of us is less about gratitude and more about consumption, consumerism and perhaps some family discord. Dedicating time to be grateful is hard. It’s often easier to think about what we don’t have or what’s not going quite right yet than it is to stop, clear out […]

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Something New, Higher and Unexpected

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Parshat Toldot, Genesis 25:19 - 28:9
November 20, 2014

Jews are known as the People of the Book. This designation speaks to Judaism’s focus on the intellect, its emphasis on theological argumentation and dedicated study. However, it is clear from the Torah that Jews also come from a long line of people rooted in the earth — from the first humans in the Garden […]

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Honoring the Past by Looking Forward

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Chayyei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18
November 12, 2014

Reading this week’s Torah reading, this week, is almost physically painful. The parasha (Torah reading) — named after “Sarah’s life,” but beginning with her death — begins with the elaborately described process of Abraham’s acquiring a burial place for his wife. The description takes up an entire chapter of Genesis. Everyone in this passage seems […]

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Resting Beneath the Tree

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Parshat Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24
November 4, 2014

In Parshat Vayera, we meet Abraham resting near the entrance of his tent. He notices three weary travelers approaching, and he runs to greet them, with no regard for the intense heat of the day (as one midrash tells us)–or the fact that he is still healing after having circumcised himself as a part of […]

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Wandering and Welcoming

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Lech Lecha, Genesis 12:1-17:27
Dean, Rabbinical School
October 29, 2014

This week’s Torah reading begins with the command, “Lech lecha”: Go forth. Go out from your land and from your father’s house. Go. When my husband and I first met, he told me that his family had a kind of motto: “Set yourself in motion and things will happen to you.” My own family did not really have […]

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We Are All Noah Now

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People's Climate March New York

October 23, 2014

On Sept. 21, I joined 400,000 people on the streets of New York City for the People’s Climate March. Painted with the words “We are all Noah now” and “People of faith call for climate action,” a large wooden ark rolled along as part of the interfaith section of the colorful throngs. Jews marched with […]

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Others, Brothers

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October 15, 2014

The first big question that is posed in the Bible is when God asks Adam: “Ayeka–Where are you?”(Genesis 3:9). This is not the divine GPS gone awry; physical location is of no interest to God here. This one-word query in Hebrew is the spiritual and existential question par excellence. And since it is asked in […]

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Sukkot: Staying a Little Bit Longer

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Rector, Rabbinical School; Irving Brudnick Professor of Philosophy and Religion
October 8, 2014

My sukkah, my little holiday booth, is up. A few of my students came by today, pulled the old wooden frame with its lattice-work sides out of the garage, and put it together.  The whole construction job took about 15 minutes, but created a moment of great significance and joy. Sukkot is far and away […]

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Wake Up to a New Year: A Yom Kippur Reflection

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Instructor, Parenting Through a Jewish Lens
October 2, 2014

The shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah are designed to wake us up. How do we avoid hitting the snooze button, rolling over, and going back to sleep once the holiday passes? That is the goal of Yom Kippur – to keep us spiritually awake. In the days of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, Yom Kippur […]

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Planting the Seed of Eternity: A Meditation on Rosh Hashana and Our Planet

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rabbi david seidenberg

September 24, 2014

On Rosh Hashana, after every time we hear the sound of the shofar, we call out the words, “Hayom harat olam.” This expression is usually translated as, “Today is the birthday of the world, or “Today the world is born.” Even though that’s the common translation, the Hebrew word “harah” or “harat” actually means pregnancy, […]

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