A Rabbi's World

10/23/2013 - 20:00 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

The State of Israel, and indeed the entire Jewish world, lost one of its greatest and most prolific Torah scholars two weeks ago with the death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, of blessed memory.  Universally recognized, both within his own Sephardic world and the Ashkenazi world as well, as being among the greatest poskim, or adjudicators of Jewish law, of the modern era, Rabbi Yosef left behind a body of work that will be respected and studied for as long as Jews learn Torah.  There is no way to overstate his significance as a scholar.

10/17/2013 - 20:00 | | A Rabbi's World

In advance of last week’s Biennial Convention of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in Baltimore, I attended a pre-convention Shabbaton- a kind of optional add-on for those who were inclined.  (My wife had intended to come, but sadly, Amtrakhad other plans).  As President of the Rabbinical Assembly, I thought it was an important opportunity to “reach across the aisle,” if you will, and spend Shabbat with my friends and colleagues in the synagogue arm of the Conservative movement.

10/10/2013 - 20:00 | | Jewish Week | A Rabbi's World

Since its release just a few short weeks ago, the Pew Research Center’s survey and report on the state of American Judaism has stimulated an almost frantic conversation on where we are as a Jewish community, and where we might be headed.

10/03/2013 - 20:00 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

Woody Allen used to say that telling jokes to an audience that’s drunk or stoned guarantees you nothing more than cheap laughs. Anything will be funny to those people, because they’re “under the influence.”  Their judgment is impaired.

09/22/2013 - 20:00 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

With the High Holidays in our metaphorical rear view mirror and Sukkot already upon us, the change in atmospheric pressure, both literal and figurative, is very much apparent.  Autumn is in the air. 

09/14/2013 - 20:00 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World

 Of the roughly one thousand rabbis of all denominations who were on a conference call with President Obama shortly before Rosh Hashanah, I would imagine that most- myself included- addressed in a High Holiday sermon the subject that had been a central focus of the call.  It was, of course, Syria, and its recent, horrifying use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians.  It is what is front and center on everyone’s mind these days, obviously not only within the Jewish community.  To ignore it would be to ignore the proverbial eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the living room- or, more accurately, in our synagogues.  

There was never a question in my mind that one of my sermons would have to be focused on the Syrian issue, but like many rabbis, I’m sure, I had two issues of concern. 

The first was that I was reluctant to write it too far in advance.  I still remember how many of us in the rabbinate had our High Holiday sermons completely subverted by the famous handshake of the late Prime Minister Rabin, of blessed memory, and Yassir Arafat, on the South Lawn of the White House announcing the Oslo Accord in September of 1995.  No one had a clue that that was coming, and then, right before Rosh Hashanah, we were all thrown into “re-write mode.”  Before President Obama decided to seek congressional approval for a military response to Syria, it appeared quite likely that an American attack against Syrian targets was imminent.  Why write a sermon that was, as likely as not, destined to become old news?  “We won’t be fooled again,” I thought to myself smugly, channeling The Who.