From the Rabbi
07/02/17 06:41:01 PM
Each November the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College hosts a three-day gathering for prospective students. This past fall’s Institute began on November 9, the day after the American presidential election, which had been preceded by a long season of acrimonious campaigning, and a deteriorating civil discourse. In this article about the event, several biblical figures and narrative threads are referenced that have been on my mind...Read more...
11/01/17 07:52:00 PM
Reconstructionist Judaism has been described by one of my great rabbinical school teachers, Dr. Arthur Green, as religious humanism. He also teaches that the first and most important “commandment” of the Hebrew Bible is captured in Genesis 1:27 with the phrase tselem elohim – the image of God.
These are two essential teachings for me. They capture the ikar, the vital core that enlivens how I wish to be, and what I wish to do as...Read more...
15/11/16 08:04:41 PM
In the best of times, and when I am at my best, I live in the moment.
This doesn’t mean I do not look ahead. I make plans, I anticipate needs, and I look forward to special events.
But when I’m living in the moment, all sorts of things become clear.
My sense of smell, and balance, my capacity to withstand others’ complaints, the ways in which I can pivot in place, they are all finely honed and less...Read more...
08/11/16 09:25:18 PM
By the time you read these words, voting will have concluded in the American presidential election. For many, this will bring relief merely for concluding a massively divisive and even bizarre campaign. Amongst factual as well as partisan reporting of the candidates, polling, alliances and breaches, there have been frequent references to the deleterious psychological impact of the season’s stories on many individuals and...Read more...
19/10/16 08:33:41 PM
What do you get for a world that has everything? In truth, we don’t trumpet the age of the world; we celebrate its newness, actually, its renewal, this and each Jewish new year.
We celebrate our joy over the newborn year, not its news.
We celebrate the politics of meaning, not the meanness of politics.
We celebrate hope over despair, of moving through teshuvah towards wholeness.
We celebrate the year’s...Read more...
27/09/16 08:49:32 PM
Soon, the crescent moon of Tishrei will appear above our heads.
We are drawn to peer into space, as if towards the distant stars, to discern what we may encounter in the months ahead of us in the year 5777.
The year will start with the appearance of the slimmest horn of light. Yet it is the second beginning for us. As citizens living in two civilizations, Jewish and civic, we have already been to one such bash. This time...Read more...
13/09/16 07:17:59 PM
The season of teshuvah offers an opportunity to look back, look at ourselves, and look to the future, intently and intensely. It is also a time of celebration of community and continuity, and of tradition coupled with innovation.
There are many of us who spend our days thinking, in one way or another, about these interrelated issues of community, continuity, tradition and innovation. Parents, teachers, health care professionals,...Read more...
09/08/16 06:34:37 PM
In the early 1980s, when the AIDS crisis had already begun to cut its wide swath of devastation in the United States, the epidemic was just emerging in Canada. After my dearest high school friend died with AIDS in 1983, I vowed to do something to honour his memory.
A few years later, while living in Toronto, I launched the CHAI Project – AIDS education in the Jewish Community. At the same time, I was a volunteer with ACT, the AIDS...Read more...
12/07/16 02:55:42 PM
In January 2013, a group of American rabbis, including the president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, met with Vice President Joe Biden as members of the national Lifeline to Healing Campaign organized by PICO - People Improving Communities through Organizing.
Fast forward to this moment, these weeks of the summer of 2016. Images and stories of rampant violence, from all corners of the globe, saturates our news. Clergy...Read more...
14/06/16 03:07:46 PM
The devar torah and discussion took place on the Shabbat during Sukkot, the Festival of Booths. I was a rabbinical student, and my primary “davening” community was at Minyan Dorshei Derekh, one of three such prayer groups that meet at Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia. Along with the Jewish Renewal congregation that met nearby, the communities served as an anchor to a kind-of urban shtetl.
Because so many folks who belonged...Read more...