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Getting Worse Before it Gets Better:  How Jacob Can Help us Weather the Months Ahead

Back when I used to fly a lot—not just pre-COVID days, but in my professional life as co-director of a national organization, I felt like I was constantly getting on and off planes. And every time, all around me, I’d see folks settling in, opening a book, or nodding off before takeoff. But not me….Read on →

A Holy and Human Hesitation After the Flood

There’s a piece of music that’s been circulating on social media this week and probably a lot leading up to this week, but it just got to my circles now. It’s a piece that is being created on the spot by a couple, the Bengsons, Abigail and Shaun, who have been singing new songs, kind…Read on →

A Time to Uproot What Has Been Planted: Rabbi Kolin’s Erev Sukkot Sermon

On Tuesday night, as I listened to the presidential debate, there was a moment when I audibly gasped. A lot of the debate felt predictable or uncomfortable or, at times, demoralizing, but this moment made my blood run cold. There were five words uttered that were all over the airwaves this past week, and they…Read on →

Hope as a Participatory Virtue: Even Now, Especially Now, Essentially Now, Rosh Hashanah 5781

At the very beginning of this pandemic, the very first thing that happened in my family is that I broke my toe and probably my foot. I had just heard the news that we would be quarantined for two weeks—which, at the time, was shocking. I leapt out of my chair and ran to check…Read on →

And I Will Dwell Amongst Them: Being Sacred Community in Preparation for the Coronavirus

In her song, February, the musical artist, Dar Williams captures this moment in time well, I think. She sings: “And February was so long that it lasted into March.” Right? Besides the fact that we have an extra day of February this year—happy birthday too all our leap babies, of course—February can seem like the…Read on →

Living in the Time of Sodom: Stories From the Border

What is the sin of Sodom? That’s a question that has fascinated commentators for generations. And it stems from this week’s Torah portion, parshat Vayera. God tells Abraham that the sin of Sodom is so great that God has to destroy it. In response, Abraham bargains and begs God for their lives, asking for mercy…Read on →

In Memory of the Lives Lost at Tree of Life Synagogue: Connected by our Roots

There is something quite magical about trees. We read in the book of Deuteronomy about a tree who is standing in the field when a conquering army comes to take the city in which it grows. And we are instructed not to cut down that tree because, Torah asks rhetorically, “is a tree of the…Read on →

When Our Walls are Breached

When I was a kid, and my brother and I used to play with the neighborhood children in Stuyvesant Town—kickball, or dodgeball, or running bases—there used to be a bit of an unspoken rule about when you could get a do-over. Another try to go back in time and do it better. A do-over was…Read on →

We Could Be Miriam: For the Protection of Immigrant Children

A 12-year-old boy: “I’m hungry here all the time. I’m so hungry that I have woken up in the middle of the night with hunger… I’m too scared to ask the officials here for any more food, even though there is not enough food here for me. I saw a child ask for more food…Read on →

Guard Your Tongue From Evil, And Your Lips From Deceitful Speech

In the past few days, we have been subjected to celebrities behaving badly. I will address the two most recent incidents, but they come at a time when public discourse in general is deteriorating by the day, taking on an increasingly coarse and destructive cast. Nevertheless, I will begin with the davar that I had…Read on →