Misheberach Blessing for Healing at Rodeph Shalom

January 21, 2011

Debbie Friedman’s (of blessed memory) pursuit of relevance and meaning, written about in the last post, “Debbie Friedman: A Spiritual Legacy,” is not only an inspiration, but also a challenge. As Pirke Avot, the Wisdom of Our Sages, instructs us to do, she “turned the text over and over again,” to rediscover meaning. When we turn the text in our quest into the ultimate questions of life and meaning, we are a part of Debbie Friedman’s legacy. Read the rest of this entry »


Debbie Friedman: A Spiritual Legacy

January 13, 2011

I remember a family car ride to the end of Long Island.  I was 15 years old and my father decided it was his mission for me to become involved in the Jewish youth group.  So he played a cassette tape over and over until I agreed.  My family sat for hours in the boxy red Volvo, listening to the tape of Debbie Friedman, zichrona livracha (of blessed memory) leading a song-session at the 50th anniversary celebration of the North American Federation of Temple Youth.  Indeed, I went on to become involved in the Reform Jewish youth movement.  And, like Jews across the country and even the world, I was spiritually touched and changed by the music of Debbie Friedman and that of so many leaders whom she influenced.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King Jr.

January 12, 2011

Abraham Joshua Heschel was born on January 11, 1907. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. But there is so much more than just having birthdays this month that unite these two amazing men.

The photograph of Abraham Joshua Heschel walking arm in arm with Martin Luther King, Jr., in the front row of marchers at Selma has become an icon of American Jewish life, and of Black-Jewish relations. Reprinted in Jewish textbooks, synagogue bulletins, and studies of ecumenical relations, the picture has come to symbolize the great moment of symbiosis of the two communities, Black and Jewish, which today seems shattered.

The relationship between the two men began in January 1963, and was a genuine friendship of affection as well as a relationship of two colleagues working together in political causes. As King encouraged Heschel’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement, Heschel encouraged King to take a public stance against the war in Vietnam. When the Conservative rabbis of America gathered in 1968 to celebrate Heschel’s sixtieth birthday, the keynote speaker they invited was King. When King was assassinated, Heschel was the rabbi Mrs. King invited to speak at his funeral.

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Integrity and the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

January 2, 2011

In honor of the news of 2 weeks ago, that the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was finally overturned, I turn my thoughts to integrity.  I’m not only speaking of the integrity of sexual identity, but that of spiritual wholeness—an integrity that should transcend gay-specific issues and be a message to us all. Read the rest of this entry »