Other Stories, Others’ Stories (Parshat Vayechi, Genesis 47:28–50:26)

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January 2, 2015

Last November, I attended the inaugural conference of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. Afterward, I posted on my Facebook page a picture of 100 Jewish and Muslim women — old and young; bareheaded, hijabi and a few in yarmulkes. One of my Jewish friends commented on the posting, “Did you discuss how Islamic women can win basic […]

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The Plague of Survivalism (Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18–47:27)

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Director of Development, Center for Interfaith Engagement
December 22, 2014

The Jewish people have a knack for surviving, even in the face of great odds. Sometimes, however, it seems as if that is our only goal. In the Torah portion for this week (Vayigash), Joseph, having grown in power and influence in Egypt after his brothers left him for dead in the desert many years […]

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I and I

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Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4-36:42
December 4, 2014

Jacob’s struggle in this week’s Torah portion is framed by revelations about the meanings embedded in places and names. Nothing surprising there — who gives a name, what that name means and how a place becomes known for the transformative moments occurring upon it, all define much of the biblical story. Vayishlach begins with our […]

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The Long Journey of Cultivating Gratitude

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Parsha Vayetze

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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