November 29, 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us and a rough year for many. Shutdowns, disruption, illness, death, protests, unrest, anxiety, fear, job losses, kids at home, the elections – these things have unsettled our reality for the past several months. And now we come to the winter holidays, which on a very basic level are about light. The light of hope, the light of reason, the light of love, the light of wisdom, and the return of... Read more

May 1, 2020

I haven’t posted as often lately. Sometimes common topics and themes seem insignificant in times like these. Sometimes words simply fail. What’s so stunning about our current crisis is how quiet it is. Few cars on the road. Very few businesses open. I look out my window at the wooded area behind my condo and it’s a beautiful first day of May. Everything looks so peaceful, but there’s a crisis raging all around. It’s not a crisis of bombs dropping,... Read more

April 11, 2020

  The home should be perceived as a microcosm of the universe. – Rebbe Menachem Schneerson Modern Judaism places a strong emphasis on the sanctity of home. Our tradition encourages us to cultivate homes of love, of peace, of learning, of hospitality, of discussion, of patience, of forgiveness, of comfort, and of beauty, even if it’s a simple beauty. Currently, many of us are spending more time at home than ever before, and likely more than we ever will going... Read more

March 29, 2020

The Wilderness as Transformative Our current crisis intersects the Jewish and Christian calendars at a fascinating time – Passover and Lent and Easter. Much of the inner meaning of these events relates to being taken out of our narrow, restrictive, mundane ways only later to emerge in the broader freedom of moral and spiritual renewal. The Israelites are freed from their bondage in Egypt to wander in the wilderness and eventually arrive at Sinai. In the Christian tradition, Lent, the... Read more

March 23, 2020

Love your neighbor as yourself. – Leviticus 19:18 Loving your Neighbor by Social Distancing We’re living through interesting times. There’s much fear, uncertainty, and anxiety – concerns over health, our own and that of others, and the economy. Right now, on this day during this period, we are forced to love our neighbors as ourselves by staying away from our neighbors so as to not risk spreading the virus. Love means sacrificing our routine and certain comforts to flatten the... Read more

March 3, 2020

The Hebrew scriptures make it clear that God’s presence is everywhere. But with that said, many spiritually powerful things happen in the wilderness. God commands Pharoah to let his people go so they can go worship God in the wilderness. And at their liberation, that’s where God leads them – to experience Sinai, to wander, to find themselves and the divine. The same themes of being made vulnerable in the wilderness – experiencing awakening and gaining insight – can be seen with... Read more

February 27, 2020

  My last post introduced my readers to the concept of spiritual ecology and I drew out some connections to Judaism. In this post, I want to briefly discuss how spiritual ecology can relate to nearly any religious tradition or practice. At the core of spiritual ecology are the overlapping and intertwined insights and convictions that the natural world has spiritual meaning, that humans are embedded in the natural world, and how we relate to animals, the ecosystem, agriculture, natural... Read more

February 19, 2020

The natural world is the larger sacred community to which we belong. To be alienated from this community is to become destitute in all that makes us human. To damage this community is to diminish our own existence. –Thomas Berry I’d like to briefly explore the intersection of Judaism and the emerging movement of spiritual ecology. I’m strongly convinced that Judaism has much in common with this newer way of looking at religion, spirituality, and ecology – so much so,... Read more

February 11, 2020

  My last two posts have talked about tradition and mitzvot, core aspects of Jewish thinking and identity. I’ve been calling attention to Reform and Liberal approaches to such. Much of my discussion, as usual, is undertaken knowing that I have many Christian, and other non-Jewish readers who are interested in, but not overly familiar with Judaism. So, let’s continue our conversation by diving deeper into mitzvot. In my last couple of posts, I have discussed mitzvot and tradition in... Read more

February 7, 2020

In a Naturalist Judaism, Who Commands? A quick glance at recent Pew Foundation surveys on Judaism reveal that many Jews – as many as 60% of American Jews – identity as atheist or agnostic. Jewish views on God have always varied and the tradition avoids definitive explanations of the nature of the divine. There has always been much less emphasis on the supernatural in Judaism than in Christianity which sprang from it. There is more supernaturalism in the much shorter... Read more

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