Clal builds bridges across communities to encourage pluralism, diversity, and openness.
"This week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim (Judgments), tells of the slave who does not want to go free saying, 'I love my master.' We read of the judgment against him – that his ear be set against the doorpost and mutilated by piercing with an awl.
"Of course, few of us live only within our own ethnic communities. We work together, shop together, go to school together. We learn from Indigenous communities and from earlier settlers. Slowly, and with legal support, we are creating a society that has room for multiple religious communities without favoring any single tradition. Ideally, everyone will be able to celebrate their holidays, wear their clothing, recite their prayers – and somehow, out of the chaos, we will make it all work.
"I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. So, there’s that. In some ways, it’s hardly a surprise since my mother died from breast cancer and one of my sisters was diagnosed when she was 40. There are 5 women in 3 generations in my family, now including me, who have or have had breast cancer. The good news is I have every reason to believe that I will be a survivor. They caught the cancer early. The mass is small. It’s an excellent prognosis.
"This week’s Torah portion (Yitro) offers a key lesson for today’s politics. It comes just before the fateful Ten Commandments scene at Sinai. Moses father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro), teaches his son-in-law how to delegate power and – even more importantly – who is worthy to lead.
"Many of us are feeling buffeted by politics, angry dynamics in public discourse, and fears of what may lie ahead. In the midst of unsettling times, our congregation, like many, have been navigating these waters and asking ourselves what role a faith-based community can play in providing for the needs of our people. There is more than one answer to that question, and different communities are charting different paths. In my congregation, we’re placing the practice of kindness at the heart of our deliberations.
Commentary on Parshat Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16
"There are aspects of the Passover story, of the Jews being spared and the separateness that they are marked with, as described in the Torah portion Bo, that rub up against some of my more modern and inclusive sensibilities. Having strong ties to academia and the arts, I’ll admit to being influenced by narratives that conflate separateness with narrowness and universalism with expansiveness.
"Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, authored House File 386 to widen the options available to families, he told the members of the House's Education Finance Committee.Kresha's bill expands an education tax credit program to include private tuition....Kresha gave a passionate defense of his bill.
"Most of us live in a bubble – the bubble of our friends, our family, our workplace and our community. Last night, I had the opportunity to go outside of my bubble and break bread with a group of recent Syrian refugees. As a member of the New York board of Rabbis, I was invited to participate in a friendship dinner through UNICEF. I was part of a small group of Jewish and Christian clergy who were there to welcome these immigrants to our country.
"I had already seen the cover art of this week’s New Yorker magazine in a news feed, but when the magazine arrived in my mailbox , the image – a wisp of smoke ascending from Lady Liberty’s smoldering torch – brought tears to my eyes. The only words I could articulate were, 'This is not what my father went to war for.'
"You’ve probably never heard of him, but my friend, Steven Esses, died last week. He left us from a too-quick and too-brutal bout with one of the worst illnesses on the planet. As per the tradition of my tribe, I won’t even mention its name, just as I’d refuse to mention the name of a murderer or a terrorist–extra publicity is the last thing I’d want to give either of them. But as for Steven, I’d just as soon talk about him all day long.