Confession: Yom Kippur 5774

I rise with the congregation.

I form a fist. They form a fist. We form a fist. The fist is personal. The fist is communal. We have sinned. The fist knocks on my chest. We have sinned. The fist knocks on their chests. We have sinned. The fist knocks on our chests. The fist knocks.

I chant, they chant, we chant:

We have sinned, betrayed, robbed, and deceived.

We have acted basely and caused evil;

We have acted maliciously, violently,

And have spread lies.

We have given bad advice, we have misled;

We have mocked, rebelled, and scorned;

We have acted stubbornly and perversely;

We have transgressed and acted hostilely;

We have been obstinate.

We have acted wickedly and corruptly;

We have committed abominations;

We have gone astray and have led others astray. [Read more...]

An Orchestra Against Ignorance

The alumni magazine of Brown University, my alma mater, begins its article on a unique orchestra like this:

“We are an orchestra against ignorance.” That’s how Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim describes the West-Eastern Divan, which consists of young musicians hailing from Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Picture a teenage violinist from Israel; his name is Ilya. Picture a teenage violinist from Lebanon; his name is Claude. They know nothing of one another’s lives. Or, actually, they think they do know about each other’s lives, because each has been raised on negative stereotypes about the other. [Read more...]