To this day, I love to preach about awe. About the grandeur of nature. About God’s presence in things great and small, beautiful and painful. About philosophy, spirituality, moral sense, and the soul. I do not preach about politics or contentious denominational issues. Make something divisive a Sabbath centerpiece? No. That’s not what the Sabbath is for.
“Should we offer the best classes we can, or teach adults to become independent learners of Jewish texts?” So my memory paraphrases a question asked on JEDADULT, a Facebook group discussing adult Jewish education. An odd question, to be sure. In the best of all possible worlds, great adult education classes would teach content and skills. All Jewish adult educators would simultaneously share deep insights and empower student learners. But […]
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 […]
We are the “selfie generation.” Don’t let the epithet unsettle you. According to leading sociologists, we are not the first to be self-obsessed. American “baby boomers,” born from 1946 to 1964, are the “Me Generation.” Old surveys of eighteen-year-old boomers reveal that their most important goal was to “develop a meaningful philosophy of life.” They created a “culture of narcissism,” said sociologist Christopher Lasch, obsessively consuming self-help books and seminars. […]
In this week’s Exploring Judaism class at Or Shalom Synagogue, we discussed “prayer.” Student questions drove our discussion. What are we hoping to achieve through prayer? What’s more effective: personal spontaneity or formal liturgy? How can a spontaneous person come to terms with a fixed order of prayer? We discussed the traditional Jewish distinction between keva, a fixed order and kavannah, intention. People who feel at home in a universe ordered by structure, rules and routine cannot imagine deep […]