A Purim Tale by Ben-Zion Friedman

February 19, 2015


Once aPUN a time

King OSH-KOSH of the UNITED KINGDOM was HAVANA good time .

PEKING toasted ; ” YEMEN , SERB up SAMOA wine . let’s TAIWAN on . ”

The tipsy king asked Queen Vashti : ” KENYA dance the hoo-chee koo-chee . . without your NEW JERSEY ? ”

Vashti shouted : ” NORWAY ! :

PEKING ordered : ” You CONGO . ”

After she GHANA way , PEKING’s men went ROMAN for a YOUNGSTOWN girl .

PEKING SPOKAN said to Esther : ” On a scale of one-to-ten , you’re the only TENNESSEE .

I’d like to CZECH YOU OUT . ”

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The Morality of the NFL

February 11, 2015

The Super Bowl was the number one watched program of all time in the US with almost 115 million viewers.  Now this may be because you wanted to watch the ads or the halftime show with Katy Perry, but I would guess, that like me, many of you are football fans.

As you know, I am from Boston and a passionate New England sports fan.  So, I should be on cloud nine right now, as the Patriots just won their 4th Super Bowl.  I am pretty psyched – come on, an interception on the 1 yard line with 20 seconds to go – it was amazing.  Yet, it is with mixed emotions that I reflect on this year’s Super Bowl and really this entire NFL season.  How do I, as a moral person, continue to support as league that has disappointed me in so many ways.

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How’s Your Consciousness?: Explore Jewish Meditation at RS

February 2, 2015
Check out this video of Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg who will speak at RS this Wed. at 7 pm.
     I recently heard an NPR reporter speak about the fact that most New Year’s resolutions don’t stick.  Why not?  My guess is that our priorities get buried under other expectations we have for ourselves, or others have for us.  Then, without being entirely conscious of it, we lose sight of what, on January 1, seemed to be so important.  So many of us fail to be our best selves because we simply lose track of where the day, or week or year is taking us.  I popped that baked good into my mouth without even thinking of it.  I cut off the intersecting grocery cart in the produce section, barely even realizing it.  I made a dismissive and insensitive remark without noticing.  I don’t help out with the house and children as much as I think I do, because I’m not really paying attention.
     Jewish tradition offers us a transformative way to rediscover our consciousness: mindfulness.  Through spiritual practice such as meditation, tradition teaches us to take notice of the world, even of our breath, and pay attention.  Other traditions offer powerful mindfulness wisdom and many of you have benefitted from them.  But I would never want us to miss out on what is right under our noses, right here in our tradition.

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Can Jewish Texts Expand Our Thinking?

January 29, 2015

Can Jewish Texts Expand Our Thinking,” the latest article from “Rabbis Uncensored,” the Philadelphia Board of Rabbis’ blog, includes a response by Rabbi Jill Maderer.  Do you find yourself in conversation with others who already share your opinion?  In what kinds of interactions do you find your thinking expands?  Comments welcome!

Shaping Judaism in the Jewish State: Vote for ARZA in WZO Elections

January 25, 2015

Learn here about voting for progressive Judaism in Israel in the WZO elections!

Since I was a child, I have heard the debate.  Do American Jews have the right to voice our opinions on Israel?  After all, we don’t send our children into the Israeli Army.  (Well, most of us don’t.) Do you think we have the right to speak out about Israel?  Are you unsure?

I suspect there are many in our congregation who are not certain what their relationship with Israel is, or should be.  So many are engaging in Israel study in our Sunday morning sessions; and yet, so few have registered for our congregational trip to Israel, we may need to cancel it.  (You can still sign up!) I know there are barriers of cost and safety concerns for some; but I wonder if there is also a barrier of emotional distance.  Perhaps we are not sure whether Israel is a place for our voice, our passions, for our concerns. We might feel alienated by the state’s sponsorship of Orthodoxy or feel estranged by the occupation of the West Bank.  Perhaps we just don’t know any Israelis, making it hard to relate beyond politics.  We are not sure if Israel is ours. Read the rest of this entry »

Vote For ARZA

December 19, 2014

Please vote for ARZA in the World Zionist Organization elections to help Reform Judaism on the world Jewish scene.
ARZA is the Association of Reform Zionists of America.  From January 15, 2015 through April 30, 2015, the World Zionist Organization will hold open voting for all Jews to help shape its agenda, including issues affecting both Diaspora Jews and the state of affairs in Israel.  The world Zionist Organization provides a forum for all the world’s Jews to come together and deliberate about critical issues.

Every Jew has the opportunity to vote for the platform that most aligns with their personal views.
A vote for ARZA – Representing Reform Judaism is a vote for:
Women’s Rights and Gender Equality:  We strive to create a world in which gender equality is the rule – where men and women can pray, work and live together as equals deserving of the same respect and honor.
Religious Equality: We envision and work for a society in which all denominations are treated fairly and with respect – and all of us are seen as Jews, regardless of our level of observance.
Regional Security:  Lasting peace, security and stability for Israel, the Palestinians and the Middle East region is possible and although the road may be long, we are building the path to peach every day.

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Tell Me

December 16, 2014


Do you remember that scene in the movie Mary Poppins when Jane and Michael jump into Burt-the-chimney-sweep’s chalk paintings on the pavement and actually become part of the scene depicted?

I have had one experience in my life where I felt like I stepped into a story. I was in my junior year of college, which I spent studying at the University of Bristol in England. I met my father in Amsterdam for a weekend while he was there for business. As you may know or remember, my mother is Dutch and her entire family is from Amsterdam. When I took this trip, it was my first time in The Netherlands. I took a flight from London, arrived at the Schipol airport outside Amsterdam and boarded a train to the center of the city. I sat on the train…and was devastated to look at the faces around me. I recognized these strangers. They looked like my relatives, the ones I knew, and the ones I only knew through pictures. I felt I could be one of them. I was devastated to feel in that moment that I might be experiencing in some small measure how it looked, the scene, to be on a very different train in the 1940s as the Jews, some of my family members, were transported away from Amsterdam. At the same instant, I knew I could be looking at faces that were not Jewish, and I wondered how those faces would have looked upon that scene of the Jews being rounded up and forced to board that train.

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