A Rabbi's World

04/23/2015 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

As we celebrate this Yom Ha’atzma’ut, the sixty-seventh birthday of the State of Israel, I share a treasured Israel memory.

04/17/2015 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

In the mid-1980’s, just a few years after I began my rabbinate at the Forest Hills Jewish Center, I traveled to Poland with a UJA-Federation Rabbinic Cabinet mission. It was shortly after my two older children were born, and from the moment that I entered the gate of Auschwitz and saw a display of clothing stripped from infants and toddlers who had been brought there for extermination, I was forever changed. Before that visit, the harsh reality of the Holocaust had been an abstract set of numbers and grainy images. When I returned, I had gained what I now understand to be an intuition of an infinitesimal fraction of the horror of what had transpired. I was shaken to the core.

04/09/2015 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

Although the transition from the High Holidays to Sukkot certainly brings with it more than a little cognitive dissonance, going from the solemnity of Yom Kippur to the joy of Sukkot, it pales in comparison with the cycle of Passover, Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) and then Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day). These communal observances fall but a few days from each other, and take us from the exhilaration of redemption to the utter despair of the Holocaust and then back again to the redemptive joy of the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

03/26/2015 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

My work in the pulpit rabbinate is, of course, centered on the synagogue that I serve in Forest Hills. It has been my family’s community, and my professional home, since 1981. But it is equally true that my rabbinate extends beyond the parochial walls of my congregation, involving me in many causes and projects that impact not only my community, but also the Jewish world at large.

03/19/2015 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

Those conversant in the vernacular of Talmudic Aramaic will know that, following a legal or aggadic teaching, the Talmud will often ask “Mai Ka Mashma Lan? Loosely translated, it means, “What is this coming to teach us,” or, the more frequently used “what do we learn from this?”

03/13/2015 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

With the news this week that the city manager of Ferguson, Missouri has resigned following a scathing Justice Department report that accused his police department of systemic racism, and with a fraternity on the University of Oklahoma having been thrown off campus for an ugly, alcohol-driven (evidently) racist incident, it is clear that race relations in America remain in crisis. As President Obama said quite eloquently at the ceremony marking the fiftieth anniversary of what came to be called Bloody Sunday in Selma. Alabama, we have indeed come a long, long way from where this country was at its worst. Clearly, we have a long way to go.