Rabbi Laura’s Day Off

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  Our 21 year old daughter has invited her parents to The Intention Gathering, a “self-sustaining, all-ages, ethnically diverse superfragilistic-art-dance-creative community.” We have absolutely no idea what that means. But we are delighted to spend three days away from leadership in our Jewish community, three days of play without work, three days of anonymity. We pack camping gear appropriate to three days of summer rainforest weather. Without any clear mental image […]

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Where is God’s Glory?

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We’ve had a week of heartbreaking events. Where, where is God? On the banners of one or another army? In acts of comfort, rescue, or shared grief? In the hope that inspires people to take risks for peace? Where is the place of God’s glory? On this Shabbat morning, as on every other, Jews in synagogues all around the world will chant the Kedushah (holiness prayer). Three versions of the […]

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Special Person, Special Time

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Last Thursday, Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, passed away, leaving his bodily existence for…well, for whatever comes next. Reb Zalman, a creative and challenging teacher with a twinkle in his eye, was a tremendous pastoral presence for many people, who adopted him as a spiritual father or grandfather. His influence is reflected in our approaches to tikkun olam, prayer, study, meditation, music, gender equality, spirituality, environmentalism, […]

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Suffering: Why Does God Allow It?

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This week, I happen to be teaching a course to rabbinic students called Losing God, Finding God: Jewish Responses to Suffering. Each week on our planet, many people and animals suffer. But this week, suffering is on the minds of my students, as we read about the tragic deaths of three kidnapped Israeli teens, and the fierce military retaliation in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces. Some voices in the ongoing conflict claim […]

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Letting Go of Literalism

A Biblical story, from parshat hashavua: The king of Moab approaches the prophet Balaam, hoping to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites (Numbers 22:2-24:5). After dreaming that God tells him to take the job, Balaam sets out with his donkey. Inexplicably, God becomes angry with Balaam for accepting, and sends an angel to block the path. Balaam does not see the angel, but his donkey does. When she refuses to walk […]

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