Remembering Rabbi Judith Z. Abrams, z”l

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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

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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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Interfaith Vision

Oseh Shalom Sukkah

On Sukkot, it’s customary to read Chapter 14 from the prophet Zechariah. Have you read it? I mean, really read it? What do you think of Zechariah’s proposal for interfaith Sukkot camp? Zechariah saw in Sukkot an opportunity for shared healing after regional war. “The survivors of every nation,” he wrote, “will ascend to Jerusalem year after year, to worship the God beyond all armies, and to celebrate the holiday […]

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After Atonement

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How do you feel the day after the Day of Atonement? I want to feel purified and healed, but I don’t. Instead, I feel that a process has just begun. One line of the liturgy plays inside me, over and over again. God, in Your Presence, I feel totally embarrassed and confused.  Just before Yom Kippur I dreamed: On Main Street, the city has allowed little open-air shops to do business […]

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Deadline: Forgiveness

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It’s teshuvah time — time for repentance and return in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. What approach should I take this year? I’ll keep it simple. I’ll try to start the new year with a clean slate. First, I’ll make a list of mistakes to correct. Borrowed books not yet returned. Student papers not yet marked. Family health insurance forms not yet filed. Friends in need not recently visited. […]

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