The Undeniable Impermanence
April 16, 2019

The Undeniable Impermanence

Shalom Chaverim, As I began to write this musing, the spire of Notre Dame had just fallen in a flamboyant descent, the familiar landmark transforming before my eyes. Moments later, I discovered that the Al...


A Metaphor for the Human Condition
April 10, 2019

A Metaphor for the Human Condition

Shalom Chaverim— I just returned from leading the JCCSF annual Staff Israel Seminar. This year was a two-week marathon—each day we covered a whiplash-inducing spectrum of ideas and ideologies, people and places, beliefs, and visions....


An Elevated and Intimate Space
March 19, 2019

An Elevated and Intimate Space

Shalom Chaverim— The work of redemption is hard, relentless, time-consuming, and costly.  Whether we are talking about mistakes or accidents, intentional behavior or inadvertent acts—when we have caused disruption in our community, it requires tikkun, a...


Biblical Blueprint for Holy Community
March 06, 2019

Biblical Blueprint for Holy Community

Shalom Chaverim— This week’s parasha, Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38), closes the long stretch of Biblical blueprints and plans for the Mishkhan, which can be understood as God’s dwelling on earth and/or our place to form holy...


Everyone Whose Heart Was Stirred
February 27, 2019

Everyone Whose Heart Was Stirred

Shalom, Chaverim— Fair warning: Once again, this week’s musing is a biblically inspired pitch, not entirely unlike like last week’s teaching which, due to technical difficulties, wasn’t widely read. That said, I could have written...


Creating a Spectacular Mishkan
February 19, 2019

Creating a Spectacular Mishkan

Shabbat Shalom, Chaverim— Fair warning: this is going to be a Biblically-inspired pitch! Following another long description of what will be needed to create a spectacular mishkan, or community ritual space, this week’s Torah portion,...


Make for Me a Sacred Place
February 06, 2019

Make for Me a Sacred Place

Terumah 2019 I dedicate this Musing to the memory of our friend, teacher, and Chochmat HaLev member, Shaykh Dr. Ibrahim Baba Farajeje Shalom Chaverim— Julie and I just are back from a whirlwind trip to...


Where is our strength hiding?
January 16, 2019

Where is our strength hiding?

Shalom Chaverim— This week’s Torah portion, Beshallach (Exodus 13:17-17:16) includes perhaps the most well known and dramatic moments of all biblical narratives—the parting of the Sea of Reeds. The moment is supremely anxious: the fleeing...


Delicious and devastating life on Earth
January 09, 2019

Delicious and devastating life on Earth

Shalom Chaverim— This week’s parasha, Bo (Exodus 10:10-13:16), closes out the famous Ten Plagues episode, which leads us to the liberation of the Israelites from slavery. The final plague, “Death of the Egyptians’ Firstborn,” saturates...


Lost from our own hearts
January 02, 2019

Lost from our own hearts

Shalom, Chaverim— We are in plague-land, my friends. Parashat Va’eira (Exodus 6:2-9:35) focuses almost exclusively on the first seven of the ten plagues: Blood, Frogs, Lice, Wild Animals, Cattle Disease, Boils, and Hail. The text...


The Jewish Superpower
December 26, 2018

The Jewish Superpower

Shalom Chaverim— This week’s Torah portion, Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1), launches us into a new reality (biblically) and a new year (in reality).  Our reading sets into motion the series of fortunate and unfortunate events that...


Endings and beginnings, blessings and mixed blessings.
December 19, 2018

Endings and beginnings, blessings and mixed blessings.

Shalom Chaverim— This week’s parasha, Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26), is about endings and beginnings, blessings and mixed blessings, fathers and sons. It depicts the end-of-life stories of Jacob/Israel and Joseph; it closes out Genesis, the first...


Elevated responses to conflict: a parable on healing
December 13, 2018

Elevated responses to conflict: a parable on healing

Shalom Friends, This week’s parasha, Vayigash (Genesis 44:18 - 47:27), brings the Joseph story to an emotional climax. To recap: Joseph, the beloved older son of the ill-fated Rachel, was despised by his jealous half-brothers—...


Gam zu l’tovah -- even-this-is-for-the-good
November 29, 2018

Gam zu l’tovah — even-this-is-for-the-good

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— The teaching gam zu l’tovah/even-this-is-for-the-good emphasizes that there are things in the world that are nistar/hidden and nigleh/revealed. Often, we are experiencing something in its nistar state, passing judgment on it, and...


November 16, 2018

Everything cocooned must transform and emerge.

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— This week’s Torah portion, Va’yeitzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3), follows Jacob on his journey away from home and hearth, and into his life as an independent adult. On the first night, he finds himself...


Standing at the Crossroads
November 09, 2018

Standing at the Crossroads

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— This week’s Torah portion, Toledot (Genesis 25:19-28:9) begins with another of our Jewish ancestors’ struggles with fertility. But finally, after pleading with God, Isaac and Rebecca do conceive—with twins. “And the children...


We Want to Know Why
November 01, 2018

We Want to Know Why

“And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years: these were the years of Sarah’s life. And Sarah died in the-city-of-four-corners, also called Hebron, in the land of Canaan and Abraham...


The genderqueerness of our sacred forebears.
October 26, 2018

The genderqueerness of our sacred forebears.

Genesis 18:1-22:24 Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— This week’s Torah portion includes the Akeida, the “Binding” of Isaac.  Here’s the basic set up: Abraham and Sarah have been on a spiritual quest with their family and posse....


Turn Our Mourning Into Dancing
October 12, 2018

Turn Our Mourning Into Dancing

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim, This week’s Torah portion, Noach (Genesis 6:9 - 11:32) is focused on the mythic account of a massive, worldwide, completely devastating flood. What makes this flood particularly terrible, aside from its widespread...