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Parshat Noah: Learning to Embrace Flaws in Our Heroes, Ourselves, and Israel

What happens when we learn that our childhood heroes are flawed? This week's parsha can teach us how to embrace complexity rather than expect perfection, a valuable lesson for our relationships to the Torah, to ourselves, and to Israel.

Building Jewish Community 3 Hours from the Nearest Torah

In a time of increasing polarization and intolerance, it was incredible to celebrate the Jewish New Year in the South. I was honored and humbled to help build bridges and connections when it feels like so much of our country and our world is broken. I was grateful for the chance to connect with people face to face and share traditions, rituals, and holy words with them. To me, this is the path to wholeness.

When Adar Arrives, We Increase our Joy!

Our joy stems from recalling the story of Queen Esther’s triumph over Haman. This has become a symbol for the struggles of the Jewish People against all forms of anti-Semitism, and in recent generations has been energized by the rise of feminism: Esther and Vashti are embraced as representations of the resilience of women in the face of adversity.

Parashat Vayeshev: Unsettling

...The moral lesson is that just as strangers must not take for granted their right to live in their host country, so Jews must not take for granted their entitlement to the Holy Land not even after they have settled there...

Don't Give Darkness the Final Word: Parashat Noah

It all seems so delightfully innocent when our youngsters sing of Noah and the Flood: “And Noah, he built him, he built him an arky, arky…,” together with that wondrously optimistic conclusion: “Everything is hunky dory, dory, children of the Lord!”

But there is a darkness throughout the Flood account...

The King is in the Field: Lessons of Elul

For one month of the year, the month of Elul, we are responsible for deep introspection, with the goal of arriving at Rosh Hashanah, fully aware of ourselves, what we have done, what we want to do, and where we are going. Elul is our time to connect to Israel---ourselves, our people, and our land.

Even More Judaism From Arza

Parshat Noah: Learning to Embrace Flaws in Our Heroes, Ourselves, and Israel

October 19, 2017

What happens when we learn that our childhood heroes are flawed? This week's parsha can teach us how to embrace complexity rather than expect perfection, a valuable lesson for our relationships to the Torah, to ourselves, and to Israel.

Building Jewish Community 3 Hours from the Nearest Torah

September 26, 2017

In a time of increasing polarization and intolerance, it was incredible to celebrate the Jewish New Year in the South. I was honored and humbled to help build bridges and connections when it feels like so much of our country and our world is broken. I was grateful for the chance to connect with people face to face and share traditions, rituals, and holy words with them. To me, this is the path to wholeness.

When Adar Arrives, We Increase our Joy!

February 27, 2017

Our joy stems from recalling the story of Queen Esther’s triumph over Haman. This has become a symbol for the struggles of the Jewish People against all forms of anti-Semitism, and in recent generations has been energized by the rise of feminism: Esther and Vashti are embraced as representations of the resilience of women in the face of adversity.

Parashat Va’era: Israel, Redemption, and That Fifth Cup of Wine

January 23, 2017

Was redemption complete when the sea closed over the pursuing Egyptians and we were finally on our own in the desert? Or was it still a work in progress, awaiting the final stage, national sovereignty in our own land? The question of four cups or five can be seen as not just hairsplitting, but as a deep question about freedom, responsibility, and the meaning of Israel.

Vayigash: Reconciliation of a Family - and a Nation

January 4, 2017

As we see from the Haftarah, which fortifies the messages of the Torah portion, one must work to create the proper conditions to bring people closer through נגישות. The messages are timely, for today alienation, despair and hopelessness reign strong. 

Parashat Vayeshev: Unsettling

December 21, 2016

...The moral lesson is that just as strangers must not take for granted their right to live in their host country, so Jews must not take for granted their entitlement to the Holy Land not even after they have settled there...

Hayei Sarah—Isaac & Ishmael: Hebron’s Complicated Legacy

November 21, 2016

Around fifteen years ago I saw a documentary called What I Saw in Hebron, made by a descendant of a Jewish family who had lived in Hebron for generations until they fled after the riots in 1929. The film layered reminiscences of Jewish survivors with a cinema verité-style documentation of the few hundred current Jewish settlers (and almost as many soldiers who guard them against the 40,000 Palestinian residents of the city).  

Don't Give Darkness the Final Word: Parashat Noah

November 1, 2016

It all seems so delightfully innocent when our youngsters sing of Noah and the Flood: “And Noah, he built him, he built him an arky, arky…,” together with that wondrously optimistic conclusion: “Everything is hunky dory, dory, children of the Lord!”

But there is a darkness throughout the Flood account...

The King is in the Field: Lessons of Elul

September 6, 2016

For one month of the year, the month of Elul, we are responsible for deep introspection, with the goal of arriving at Rosh Hashanah, fully aware of ourselves, what we have done, what we want to do, and where we are going. Elul is our time to connect to Israel---ourselves, our people, and our land.