There has been a great deal of press lately about interfaith marriages within the Jewish community, including an article by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism in which he proclaimed that young people “must hear from their Jewish leaders that interfaith couples can be and are supported in their effort to raise deeply committed Jewish families.”
There are many truths that link us as human beings – qualities that we share no matter who or where we are. We all need to eat and sleep, learn and grow, and we all need to feel that we belong somewhere.
I’ve never been one to make “resolutions” on the secular New Year. It was never as meaningful to me as the cheshbon hanefesh, the spiritual accounting of my soul, that I did each year at the High Holy Days. Nonetheless, it is impossible not to ponder what might help make 2014 an even better year than 2013. Rather than focusing on dieting, balancing my checkbook or organizing my closet (though I could certainly benefit from any or all of those things), I would prefer to focus on what could make the life of a Reform Jew more meaningful this coming year. So, I present my own list of A Reform Jew’s New Year’s Resolutions.
Hearts broke all over the world in December when we learned of the passing of one little, precious, 8-year-old boy. Just as Jewish tradition teaches us that, if we save one life, it is as if we’ve saved an entire world, we are also aware that losing one life forces us to lose the entire world that would have come from that special soul.
I must admit, I am fairly addicted to technology and gadgets. I grew up loving video games (Pong and Atari 2600 started it all for me) and still have four different console systems at home. I tend to be an early adopter of new devices, and can seldom be found without my iPhone or iPad close by. Yet, even when I admit this to myself, there is still a little judgmental voice inside that believes that smart phones, tablets, computers and games disrupt society and distance us, especially in a Jewish context. Luckily, a number of recent experiences have proven that technology actually helps to connect us and to improve our Jewish lives.
After the drama of the High Holy Days, we have returned to the beginning of the Torah. Early on, in chapter 19, we meet a character who has much to teach us, although she is with us only a short time: Lot’s wife. She is almost anonymous; her reactions to being told to leave her home in Sodom are not shared. We know only that she turns around to look behind her at the city they are escaping, and turns into a pillar of salt for all eternity.