Category Archives: Pluralistic Perspectives


Sharing in Happiness with Others: Simchat Torah

We live in an age of unprecedented interconnection. If your airline loses your luggage, you can just tweet at them; if you are hosting a party, feel free to send your friends an invite on Facebook. Still, we often feel disconnected from one other. A common complaint I hear from my friends in New York City is that there are millions of people around, and yet they feel alone. But… Read Article →


Back to the Garden, and Forward

The holiday season has come and gone. Moses has ascended Mount Nebo, looked across the Jordan and suddenly the world is created all over again. Here we are, back at Genesis 1:1, “in the beginning.” Our Torah begins with God’s creation of the world. This stands as the basis of our Judaism, as it does of all religion, which emerges out of gratitude for our existence. We acknowledge a God… Read Article →

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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 →