Got Religion? The Challenge of Religion in 21st Century America

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The first synagogue to take root in North America more than 350 years ago was Congregation Shearith Israel. This community of Sephardic Jews hailing from the Spanish-Portuguese community came with their deeply held beliefs of how the world works, how communities are formed and how they are maintained and began to earnestly set out to repeat that pattern on the shores of the Atlantic. Yet, something was very different here than it was in any other context that the Jews had lived in before. The … [Read more...]

History Made Personal: A Book Review of Teach Them Diligently

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Rabbi Berel Wein is beyond any doubt one of the most profound, prolific and inspired rabbis of the 20th century. I have never learned with him personally or attended any of his lectures but nonetheless I have encountered his teachings throughout my life. Rabbi Wein is a moral voice on societal issues, a contemplator of Jewish history and Jewish destiny and a master educator. It is with that background into the man that I brought with me when I began reading his new autobiography, Teach Them … [Read more...]

Don’t Pray, Communicate! A Book Review of Holistic Prayer

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To understand the newest book by Rabbi Avi Weiss one needs to tell a story that appears in the book, Holistic Prayer: A rabbi was once informed that a crazed woman was in the beit midrash (the study hall, which is sometimes used as a small prayer room). "She is standing in front of the Ark, the Ark is open, and she is babbling and gesturing wildly," he was told. "She seems to be mentally imbalanced. Perhaps you can go in and help her. The rabbi went in. As he sat quietly in the back, he could … [Read more...]

Learning, Living and Blogging: #Patheos5Yrs Later

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The first time I was introduced to Patheos was when I met Leo Brunnick, a founder and CEO of Patheos, when he came to present to the Harvard University Chaplains in 2012. I was a Jewish chaplain at the university at the time and was quite impressed with his passion, vision and determination to build an interactive, engaging online space for both intrafaith and interfaith dialogue and learning. I felt inspired by his presentation and asked him to become a blogger for Patheos and was quite pleased … [Read more...]

I and You : Reflecting on Understanding the Other

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How often do we truly put ourselves in the space to encounter the other in our world? How often do we truly break down the other and see the unity that shines through? These questions have been on mind since I went to a very special event this past week at the DuSable Museum of African-American History in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. The event was a dialogue between mothers and between mothers and sons on raising young men in the African-American community. I was there in an official … [Read more...]

Benediction at 2013 Colorado 9/11 Memorial

The following is the benediction I offered at the 2013 Colorado 9/11 Memorial presented at the Newman Center at the University of Denver:Twelve years ago. Twelve years ago the unthinkable happened. Twelve years ago our world was forever changed as nearly 3,000 people; men, women and children, perished on that clear September day. We were shaken. We were horrified. We were terrified. Yet, something else also happened: We raised our flags. We extended our hand to our neighbors. We picked each … [Read more...]


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