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Showing posts from 2008

Change is Good -- What does that Mean?

If there’s any one subject that is on all of our minds these days and weeks, it’s “change.” Change is in the air. We’re eager for ‘change’ as our new president takes office. We’re eager for ‘change’ as we think about economic challenges. We’re eager for ‘change’ as we begin a new era at Adas Israel as well. People tell me that they feel a positive energy in the life of the synagogue, and that ‘sense of change’ is electrifying. This is all wonderful, but what exactly do we mean by ‘change’ anyway? It seems to me that the all-encompassing desire for change at our synagogue, and in the whole country is the feeling that we just want things to be different. It’s the feeling that the old ways have been spent, they’ve had their moment, they no longer work, and we need new ways of doing things in order to fix all the problems that the old ways have created. We all agree that “Change is Good,” but for many of us, there is an undercurrent of deep anxiety behind the desire for change. Our desire…

It's all about Community

Things are beginning to change in our congregation. If you have come to our services recently, you may have noticed a different kind of energy on the bimah, different orders of prayers and blessings, different kinds of teachings and formats. All of these changes reflect some fundamental values that guide our new vision: Truth, compassion, Halakhah, respect for our traditions, Justice, and the Torah that can be found everywhere. When I think about synagogue life, I am guided by an over-arching concern about community. When people come to services at Adas Israel, I want everyone to be struck by a palpable feeling of belonging, of being welcomed, of sensing that we’re a part of something powerful and transformational and loving. I want people to feel like they have come home to something that is familiar and joyful, even if they have never been to our synagogue before. Anyone who enters this building--from ‘regulars’ to new-comers--can always be greeted with warmth and a smile. My goal i…

We all learn Torah from One Another: Relativism?

On Rosh HaShanah, I talked about how I do not regard the Truth as a "problem." This means that as a rabbi, I do not consider the congregation to be a "problem," but rather the solution to all problems. I explained that, while I am a passionately observant Conservative Jew and I love teaching about observance and Jewish learning, I respect the Truth of any member of the congregation who is not interested in observance or in Jewish learning right now in his or her life.

In fact, I am happy to welcome each and every member of the congregation into the community exactly as they are, no matter how observant or knowledgeable anyone is or is not. I believe that we can "learn the Torah of who you are" together as a community. I talked about how there are many minyanim and programs and points of entry into Jewish life in our congregation, and how this is a good and healthy thing. May there always be many ways to be Jewish in our community without anyone judging any…

The Truth is Good: What about the Holocaust?

I gave a sermon on Rosh HaShanah about Truth, and the importance of pursuing Truth as the only means to finding healing, meaning, purpose, redemption. I talked about how "Chotmo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu Emet," "The seal of God is Truth." (B. Shabbat 55a). I taught about how the Truth, reality itself, is "Tov Me'od," "very good," and that our greatest act of faith in Judaism is to believe in the goodness that can be found in all of our experiences of Truth, no matter how painful or difficult they may be to face. (In a few days, I will post a link to the sermon that will be up at the Adas Israel

After hearing this sermon, someone asked me a wonderful question: what about the Holocaust? This darkest hour imaginable in human experience is undeniably true! Doesn't this teaching suggest that--God forbid!--we should see the Holocaust as "good"?

I am so grateful that this question was asked. In no way am I su…

L'Shanah Tovah!

Welcome to my blog! I hope to use this blog for a variety of reasons: to share periodic thoughts and reflections, to respond to questions posed to me by members of Adas Israel Congregation and others, and to post sermons and other writings and articles.

Most importantly, I would like to use this blog as a tool for helping my congregation and others to explore the beauty of what is True (hence the title: "Dover Emet: Speaking the Truth"), and to find new ways into acts of Chesed (lovingkindness) and Tzedek (righteousness).

We live in an era where Judaism must evolve together with the Jewish community. I very much hope that this blog will be a useful forum for us to explore together what an evolving Jewish expression could be, and what that means to us.