Things Fall Apart – Rabbi Sharon Brous
It is the normalization of callousness and corruption that destroys the fabric of a society. In the midst of election season, facing the specter of nation-wide upheaval and even political violence, we are called to ask: who are we in times of true moral crisis? What will we do to protect each other and our democracy? Lessons from dor hamabul, the generation of the flood.
The Lesson of the Lines – Rabbi Sharon Brous
This week, voters in Georgia, Texas and Ohio waited 5, 8, 12 hours to cast their vote! From the Story of Creation to the first free election in post-Apartheid South Africa, we learn what is possible when we feed love, faith and a fierce will into the soil of our democracy. May we be blessed to watch as seeds planted even generations ago finally flower into a rich, healthy, just and loving multi-racial democracy.
Butterflies, Judean Dates, and Waiting to Emerge: Using the Holy Days to Transform for the Good – Rabbi Dr. Bradley Shavit Artson
Using stories of a 2,000 year old fruit brought back to life and the new pandemic hobby of raising monarch butterflies from little caterpillars, Rabbi Artson explores how we can use this time sheltering at home to do the inner work and the justice work to be ready to soar when we are safe to emerge and engage.
Judaism in the Time of Cholera – Rabbi Keilah Lebell
The ancient philosophy of divine reward and punishment exemplified in parshat Ki Tavo and throughout the book of Deuteronomy suggests that human suffering results from disobeying God’s commandments. This largely accounts for the ubiquitous and problematic belief that good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. But thanks to thinkers and leaders in the last century who have challenged this axiom, we have evolved our understanding of God and human suffering. This ideological shift offers us a more compassionate conception of God and a more compassionate Judaism. When the cholera pandemic was ravaging the world in the 19th century, Rabbi Israel Salanter demonstrated radical compassion when he encouraged his community to care for the sick, even if they had to break commandments to do so. In a time when a pandemic is once again wreaking so much havoc, when so many are suffering and dying, we must remind ourselves that we are not being punished. Rabbi Salanter teaches us that what’s called for now is not blame or religious zealotry, but radical compassion and care.
Returning What Is Lost – Rabbi Ronit Tsadok
What the mitzvah of hashavat aveidah tells us about ourselves and our society.
Roof Torah – Rabbi David Kasher
Our Torah Reading this week has more laws in it than any other in the Torah, 74 in total. One of those is the commandment to build a protective fence around ones roof, so that no one can fall off. Okay, safety first, I guess… but is there a deeper meaning embedded in this seemingly random law?
Just a Regular Kid – Rabbi Sharon Brous
A 13-year-old boy stands before the world and reveals his greatest vulnerability. It’s a powerful model of brave self-reflection as we enter this period of introspection, and a testament to our tradition’s claim that from within our greatest struggle will be revealed our greatest strength.
What Changes? – Rabbi Sharon Brous
It is the terror of uncertainty that has us gravitate toward an oppressive known rather than risk a future unknown. Again and again, our Israelite ancestors, fleeing enslavement in Egypt, yearned to return to bondage rather than chart a new course toward freedom. Then and now, we view the past through a distorted lens, mythologizing what was, rather than dreaming of what could be. This moment cries out with a moral insistence: smash the idols of past– so that we are not tempted as we rebuild. From this desert of anguish and heartache, we must create a new and better narrative for our future.
A Struggle for the Soul of Judaism – Rabbi Sharon Brous
In the wake of the deadly explosions in Beirut, some in our Jewish community have failed to see the humanity even in those suffering profoundly. We’d like to say their lack of compassion is un-Jewish, but in reality it finds deep roots in our tradition. It’s our work to repudiate these voices, and instead lift up the threads of our Torah and tradition that call us to love the stranger, for we know what it means to be strangers.
Two Kinds of Fear – Rabbi David Kasher
We are afraid of fear. Our culture recoils from the word as if it were a poison. But it wasn’t always that way. It seems almost strange now, but fear was once considered a virtue, to be striven for and carefully cultivated. To describe someone as “God-fearing” was to compliment them. What was it that once made the idea of fear so appealing, and how has it fallen from its place of esteem in our contemporary religious conversation?
The Miracles Within – Rabbi Keilah Lebell
An ancient miracle story invites us to consider the sources of abundant blessing that may be hiding in plain sight – within our homes and within ourselves.
Your [COVID] Story Matters – Rabbi Keilah Lebell
It is true: we may all be in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. Each of us is experiencing the pandemic differently, with greater and lesser severity. But no matter what your COVID story is, whether it’s been a time of suffering or a time of flourishing — or both, it matters, and we want to hear it.
From Blame to Accountability – Rabbi Sharon Brous
The mindset of blame and vengeance may feel righteous, but inevitably leads to more suffering. Our Rabbinic tradition calls us instead to a path of reflection and accountability. We must be clearheaded not only about where others have failed, but where we, ourselves, are complicit in the patterns and systems degrading all of us.
MARKING TIME – Rabbi David Kasher
This sense of the unending blur of timelessness is part of what is so hard about this experience we’re in. What are we doing? How long have we been doing it? When will it end? And this feeling of being adrift can cause depression, can cause us to lose hope. One of the things we need to figure out how to do is mark time.
Tears of Hope – Rabbi Ronit Tsadok
This year, it is not hard to connect with this period on the Jewish calendar, a time of mourning, of lament and of tears. But what tools can our tradition offer us to respond to the brokenness around us?
601,730 stories and counting… – Rabbi David Kasher
Why is this census different from all other censuses? Well, let me tell you a story.
Creativity Loves Constraints – Rabbi Keilah Lebell
We are living through a time of great constriction. Concerns for safety have limited all our lives significantly. However, we can learn from some of the best art, from Judaism’s embrace of limits, and from so much beauty being born around the world right now, that creativity flourishes within limits. Unprecedented hardship has inspired unprecedented innovation. The ideas and art bursting forth are expanding what we know to be possible, and will help to sustain us now and in the years to come.
Born at the Right Time – Rabbi Sharon Brous
Change is born when the right idea meets the right moment. Our tradition calls us to live in a dreamscape that demands our most robust, imaginative thinking on the struggle for human dignity. So we dream, despite knowing that the opportunities for real transformation are rare and precious. But sometimes, when the moment is right– like it is right now– we are able to lead with the moral imagination we’ve been cultivating all along to build the future we desperately need.
Reverend Michael-Ray Mathews
Reverend Michael-Ray Mathews speaks about the significance of Juneteenth and the meaning of this moment of uprising, Sankofa, Afrofuturism, and how we can build a society in which white supremacy is dismantled and all black people can thrive.
This Confluence of Crises Will Birth Our Future – Rabbi Sharon Brous
The great upheaval of our time—with its unique confluence of crises—demands a shift in paradigms. The hour calls for deep, honest consideration of the roots of white supremacy, violence and crime in our society, recognition of and reparations for past failures, and creative, courageous rethinking of our norms. Now is the time for people of conscience to come together to transform our society and our justice system into one that is actually just.