Religion and Violence

Kristallnacht vst clipping

It has been a full week, a very full week. Full of hope, and full of despair. Full of religion, and full of violence. Last Thursday, the Vancouver School of Theology hosted a Kristallnacht Commemoration, woven with words and music, history and testimony, thought and feeling. From the podium, I saw a hundred faces moved to tears. So I said: Please do not bury today’s powerful thoughts and feelings in the […]

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Letters from the Front

This Remembrance Day, I’m remembering two World War II veterans, my father and my uncle. Just six months ago, my brother and I read their wartime letters to family. Each man had his own principled understanding of what it meant to write home. Our father sought to reassure his parents and sister of his safety. From England, he wrote, “The food here at training is great! Much better than I […]

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Re-Reading My Story


“That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!”  So Aunt Sylvia, of blessed memory, used to say. I always received this aphorism with an indulgent smile. Because: you can get stuck in a story, like a broken record. You can see life as a series of scenes with one repeating plot line. A plot that never gets resolved, leaving you painfully dangling, all the time. Yes, that’s my story: I have […]

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Remembering Rabbi Judith Z. Abrams, z”l


A blog post should be a masterful short personal essay, a little narrative opening to a universal lesson. Kind of like a sugya (unit) of Talmud. I would love to write a masterful post about my friend and teacher Judy Abrams. But, to really get it right, I would have to choose my favorite anecdote and my favorite lesson, positioning each within the other in a multi-layered metaphorical masterpiece. And […]

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Interpreting Kohelet

purple vapor

At Sukkot, it is traditional to study the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes). The original reason for this tradition is mysterious — as is the book of Kohelet, penned by an unknown author in an unusual style. The author says, “I, Kohelet, am a wise, wealthy king in Jerusalem.” One might identify Kohelet with King Solomon, but the book’s language is half a millennium too modern, and Kohelet is too critical of royal justice. […]

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