Prayer, Good Deeds and Sacrifices? Explaining The Role of Sacrifices in Judaism


The most read book in human history, the Bible, spends much of its time concerned with the construction of a special sanctuary, a Tabernacle, in which animal (and grain) sacrifices were performed regularly. We may have grown up on the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Great Deluge, the Twelve Tribes and the Exodus from Egypt but the majority of the text of the Five Books is dedicated to a set of rituals that have not been performed in the last two thousand years.How do we explain the … [Read more...]

Between The Parts: The Liminal Space Between Continuity and Assimilation


In the great epic story of humanity there has always been the forces that compel us to assimilate amongst each other and those that urge us to maintain our differences and to hold up the uniquenesses within the human family. The desire to blend in is strong and indeed is admirable. The unity afforded by blending in, by assimilating, cannot be overstated. When we collapse the contours that are the map of the human family into one straight path our journey becomes simple and uncomplicated. Yet, … [Read more...]

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


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...]

I and You : Reflecting on Understanding the Other


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...]

Kumare: The Allure of Otherness

I watched the documentary Kumare this weekend and I was struck by its portrayal of the development of a religious community and the search of people for meaning and fulfillment in their own lives. The movie follows the filmmaker as he morphs into an Indian Guru and plants himself in Phoenix, Arizona where he develops a coherent belief system and attracts followers. Throughout the movie he attempts to convey to his followers that they actually do not need a Guru and they can be their own … [Read more...]

What Amazes You?


Tomorrow night people around the world will sit down with their family and friends and partake in the Passover seder. The seder is perhaps the oldest continuously practiced ritual unbroken throughout the generations. Throughout time and place it has adopted various new customs and adapted old ones but the essential component remains the same: the retelling of the Exodus. The great formative narrative of the Children of Israel, in which God with an outstretched arm and a mighty hand redeemed the … [Read more...]