Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

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A Sacred Moment

As always, I prefer to use these blasts during July to bring you thoughts and experiences from Israel. I have one more observation to share with you from my last day in Israel for this summer. But, it will have to wait until next week. It is impossible for me to let this particular moment…Read on →

Jerusalem Pride

In our Torah portion for this week, Bylam, a popular magic man known throughout the Ancient Near East, was summoned by the Moabite King Balak to throw a curse upon the Israelites, who were camped on the Steppes of Moab. Though the Israelites meant him no harm and were just passing through on their way…Read on →

Graduation Day

The highlight of this past week for me was the graduation of the fifth cohort of the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (fondly abbreviated as “RLI V”) from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. We are now officially Senior Rabbinic Fellows of the Institute. For the past three and a half years, I have joined 26 other…Read on →

“What will THEY say?!”

Within our Torah portion this week is a remarkable exchange between Moses and God. We remember that Moses sends twelve scouts, one from each of the tribes, to scout out the Land of Israel. The scouts return with fruits of the Land, but ten of them bring reports of doom and gloom: “It is a…Read on →

Naomi and her Daughters-in-Law. Marc Chagall

The Anti-Racism of Ruth

In this contentious campaign season we continue to be bombarded by unbridled anger and malicious invective against foreigners, immigrants, Muslims and Mexicans, and anyone else who might fall into the category of “other,” in the eyes of Mr. Trump. As Americans, we must reject this pernicious xenophobia. As Jews, we view this mindset as particularly…Read on →

Demand Justice

You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich, judge your neighbor fairly. (Leviticus 19.15) This week we are reading the “Holiness Code” of Leviticus. In addition to this calendrical position in the lectionary, the Reform Movement also chose this portion as the Torah reading for…Read on →

The Voice of a Woman

Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. And Miriam chanted for them: “Sing to the Eternal, who has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver God has hurled into the sea.” (Exodus 15.20-21) These are the last verses of the…Read on →

From Schmutz to Soaring Inspiration

This week we are reading the portion Tazria in our Torah; at first blush, not very appetizing reading. Most of the portion concerns itself with what we, in less elegant vocabulary, might call schmutz; skin infections, mold on houses, and the like – not one of the more inspirational portions in our literature. On the…Read on →

Purity and Taint: Crossing the Line of Life and Death

Of four special Shabbatot leading up to our celebration of Pesach, this coming Shabbat is the third. It is called Shabbat Parah, and is built around a ritual whose internal meaning seems quite remote for us. The “Ritual of the Red Heifer,” the parah adumah, is an extra reading in traditional practice, taken from the…Read on →

Shabbat Zachor – the Sabbath of Remembrance

This coming Shabbat is Shabbat Zachor – the Sabbath of Remembrance – just preceding the celebration of Purim, which falls next Wednesday night -Thursday, March 23/24. Shabbat Zachor takes its name from three extra verses of the Torah that we read this Shabbat, in addition to the regularly scheduled portion at the beginning of Leviticus….Read on →