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...]

Newtown and a Jewish Reflection on Gun Control

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It was only a few weeks after my family and I moved to Denver to assume the position of senior rabbi at a synagogue just a few miles from Aurora that the horrific massacre at the movie theater occurred. Our television screens and laptops were inundated with the life stories of the victims and the images of so much grief and destruction. I wrote an article back then for The Denver Post calling on all people of faith and good conscience to affirm the sacredness of all life as a response to the … [Read more...]

Conversion As An Act of Kindness

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Conversion to Judaism is noble process that represents a person's desire to find shelter under the wings of the Divine Presence as manifested through the unique pathway of the Covenant at Sinai.1 For a long period of Jewish history it took quite an exceptional person indeed to seek out conversion to Judaism. Jews lived in bitter and harsh conditions, suffering persecution and discrimination at the hands of almost every country they found themselves in. Hence, the Talmud teaches that when a … [Read more...]

Conversion: The Need for Orthodox Leadership

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In every generation throughout Jewish history there have been people who desired to enter into the Covenant of Israel and join their fate with the fate of the Jewish people. The earliest examples we have of such people are from the Tanach. The story of Ruth and her journey to the People of Israel became the paradigmatic story of conversion for the early rabbis1. Before Ruth rabbinic tradition speaks of Abraham as the first convert2 or of all of the Jewish people standing at Sinai as all … [Read more...]

A Philosophy of Jewish Law

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The most defining characteristic of an observant Jewish life is fidelity to the halacha, to Jewish law. The halacha is an all-encompassing system that governs a person's life from the moment they wake up in the morning until they go to sleep at night. There is little area in one's daily routine that is not nuanced by Jewish law. A person who maintains a life devoted to halacha is often asked about the perceived burden of doing so.1 How is it possible to live life encumbered by so many details … [Read more...]


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