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Food, Faith, and Freedom
June 19, 2019

Food, Faith, and Freedom

Shalom Chaverim, This week’s Torah portion, Beha’alotecha (Numbers 8:1 - 12:16) includes a painfully accurate observation on human nature: The riffraff amongst them were beset with a craving, and the Israelites joined them weeping, and said, “Who will...


Be A Blessing And Be Blessed
June 11, 2019

Be A Blessing And Be Blessed

Shalom Chaverim, This week’s parasha, Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89), contains the Priestly Blessing, one of the most familiar and beloved pieces of our liturgy. In traditional settings, the service leader chants the blessing during the repetition...


We're gonna tell it again…
June 05, 2019

We’re gonna tell it again…

Shalom Chaverim— A few weeks ago Julie and I were blessed to be celebrating our daughter’s graduation from college. It was the first time in a few years that we were able to be together...


Spiritual and Religious?
May 29, 2019

Spiritual and Religious?

Shalom Chaverim— This week’s Torah portion, Bechokotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34) closes the book of Leviticus, thus ending the long stretch of instructions to and about indigenous Judaism’s most elite class, the kohanim or priests. The priesthood...


The Kids Are Alright
May 14, 2019

The Kids Are Alright

Parshat Emor (Leviticus 21:1 - 24:23) Shalom Chaverim— About a decade ago I was coaching kids in the Coastside Jewish Community’s b’mitzvah program on drash writing. To be perfectly honest, I’m a terrible coach. I...


Love Yourself, Love Your Neighbor
May 07, 2019

Love Yourself, Love Your Neighbor

Shalom Chaverim— Earlier today I was lying on my massage therapist’s table, involuntarily yelping as my ligament, tendons, and muscles were being pulled, stretched, and torqued by expert hands and feet. At each discovery of...


Life After Death
May 01, 2019

Life After Death

Shalom Chaverim, This week’s parasha, Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1 - 18:30), begins with the following crushing and enigmatic words: “And The Mysterious One spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron,...


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...


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—...


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...