"Imagine my shock and my overwhelming sense of gratitude and honor when I discovered that you, dear God, had enrolled in my class. I know I've written and spoken to you before, but this situation requires some new and different communication. I strive towards fairness in all my dealings with students, so, God: you will receive a grade and intimate comments, just like your classmates...."
"When I wrote about the second Presidential debate, it was all about how the real winner was Karl Becker, the guy who asked the final question – the one inviting each candidate to name something they respect about their opponent. I am writing today about the 3rd and final Presidential debate, held last night. And once again the focus is less on the candidates and more on regular people like you and me...."
"...The sukkah is a symbol of vulnerability: a shelter that ultimately does not offer complete protection. It is susceptible to the elements; the roof made of natural materials is meant to be slightly open in order for us to see sunlight during the day and the stars at night. (It was ironic to be thinking about how this week the elements themselves might interfere with the construction of the sukkah.) The sukkah is fragile, and when we sit in the sukkah we are, while covered, still exposed...."
"...As a foodie who loves quality, variety, imaginative decor and competent and attentive service, and places a high value on excellence, I find many kosher eateries uninspired at best and infuriating at worst. The food might be certified by esteemed rabbis yet the experience overall is frequently far from divine, let alone a memory one wants to relish or savor.
"...That was the first part of my divorce ritual that became clear to me: we would pour wine from a single cup into two, symbolizing that our portions in life are now separate. We no longer drink from the same cup. We no longer share life's joys and sorrows. We do still share a child, and as co-parents to that child we will be connected for the rest of our lives, but each of us drinks now from a separate cup of grief or delight...."
"Death is a problem. It is death that seems to suck the meaning out of life. If it is all temporary, if after 60 or 80 or even 120 years it is all gone, then what's the point? If all of life is leading inexorably towards a time at which it disappears like a puff of smoke, then my existence is just an exercise in futility, and I might as well never have lived to begin with...."
"For many years, the organization that I led - PANIM - ran 4-day seminars on Jewish values and social activism for teens who came to Washington D.C. from around the country. When I would speak to the students, my lead-off question would be: Who are your spiritual heroes?..."
"We sat in synagogue most, if not all, of the day. We didn't eat. We thought about the ways we missed the mark. We were steeped in the messages and ideas of Yom Kippur all day.
But today, we're back at work. We've got e-mails to respond to, kids to drive to school and gymnastics and soccer, and are dealing with the day-to-day grind of our lives. And that's why even though Yom Kippur is important, the day after is even more so...."
"...I have wondered lately if we transfer our fears and anxiety on to our two presidential candidates and on this coming election.
I wonder lately if all of our obsessive attention on the election deters us from acting in ways which will actually change our course for the better...."
"...Our lives are a constant balancing acts between yetzer harah and yetzer hatov. Sadly, most of the time, we don't do a great job at this balancing act. Somedays, we hide behind walls and think only about what we want. On other days we knock down the walls, put everyone else first and forget about our own needs. But, every so often, things click and we achieve the right balance between what I want, need and believe and what you want, need and believe...."