After a month away from my desk, my community, and New York, I returned yesterday to all three. I had a wonderful vacation, truly and genuinely restorative, and it must be written on my face because everyone who sees me comments that I look rested. The last comment was- verbatim- “Rabbi, you look wonderful and rested. We’ll take care of that.” You have to love it.
(Santa Barbara, California) For a little over a week now, my wife and I, along with two other couples that we've been friends with for just about forty years, have been slowly working our way down the coast of California from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where I will be officiating at a wedding.
After a three hour delay for what our pilot blithely referred to as a "catastrophic failure" of one of our brakes (how fortuitous to learn this before takeoff and not after!), my wife and I are finally on our way to California for a well-earned vacation. Watching flight attendants deal with frustrated passengers at 34,000 feet seems like a good time to spend a few minutes thinking about America's new cult hero, Steven Slater.
On the first of this month, just as my vacation was beginning, the New York Times published (on its front page!) an article about the phenomenon of “clergy burnout.” I was, of course, touched by the fact that they had timed the publishing of the article to coincide with the o
Although scheduling conflicts made it impossible for me to stay as long as I would have wished to, I managed to spend one very wonderful day this week at the annual North American Jewish Choral Festival, sponsored by the Zamir Choral Foundation. The highlight of my brief stay was a moving film presentation about Hazamir, the National Jewish High School Choir and its constituent local choirs, and a live performance by the Zamir Chorale, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this coming year.
As I write this article, furious negotiations are underway in Jerusalem regarding the so-called “Rotem Bill,” which might possibly be introduced to the plenum of the Knesset as early as next week. In a Jewish world that often hyperbolizes potential disasters, this bill, if passed, has the capacity to drive a major wedge between the State of Israel and the non-Orthodox Jewish community here in North America. I suspect that certain sectors of the Orthodox community are not anxious to see it passed, either.
It was only a month or so ago that Israel’s relationship with the United States government was in serious trouble. First it was the visit of Vice-President Biden to Israel that was marred by Israel’s ill-timed announcement of new housing starts in East Jerusalem. President Obama was said to be furious. Then it was Israel’s handling of the Gaza flotilla that seemed to anger everyone in the world who was awake and breathing at the time.
In the Babylonian Talmud, the ancient rabbis taught that silence, while a sign of humility and often wisdom, can also have a darker side. Sh’tika k’hoda’ah damei, they said. Remaining silent can, in the wrong circumstance, indicate your agreement with or surrender to what has been said. Silence can be a two-faced sword.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that ancient teaching lately.
It is most unusual for me to be away from my synagogue for two consecutive weekends, but this is one of those times. Last week I was in Jerusalem, attending the Zionist Congress. This week, far away from Jerusalem, I am writing from Newport, Rhode Island, where my son-in-law Yoni, entering his final year in the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary, is receiving his commission from the United States Navy as a Navy Chaplain.
I probably should wait a few days before writing this article. It would, undoubtedly, come out much less hot and bothered if I did. But deadlines being what they are, I am obliged to write it now. I apologize in advance- I think- if it offends certain sensibilities...
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.