Marriage Equality and Civil Disobedience – Sermon from 7/26/13

July 30, 2013

There were many profound moments throughout my young adult life that led me to the rabbinate.  One of the most powerful of these came during a Shabbat evening when I was an impressionable freshman at Brandeis University.  We had just finished dinner and were sitting down to listen to a Shabbat lecture from the Reform Rabbinic Advisor, Rabbi Jonathan Klein.  The young rabbi took out two pieces of white plastic that appeared to be something like a zip-tie and asked us if anyone knew what these were.  After a few failed guesses that they were some sort of strange religious device that we had not yet encountered in our lives, Rabbi Klein explained that they were riot handcuffs; a quick easy way for police to arrest large groups of protesters at once.  Rabbi Klein then went on to tell us about how he had recently been arrested while protesting in New York.  I thought to myself, “Rabbis can get arrested?!  This is awesome.  I’m gonna be a rabbi!”

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RS Caring Community Brings Food and Connection

July 26, 2013

IMG_7355 (1)Why are these RS members standing around bowls of organic food in the RS kitchen?  They are in the middle of a mitzvah!  Many of us participate in our congregational CSA (community supported agriculture) as share holders who support a local organic farm and take home fresh vegetables every week.  Each week, Laurel Klein sets aside one “mitzvah share,” assembles a small cooking team, and prepares meals for members to deliver to other members who are facing medical challenges, returning home from the hospital, in mourning, have just had a baby, or are in some way vulnerable.  Thank you to Laurel and the team for drastically increasing the food and frequency of the Caring Community impact!  In every meal they provide healthy nourishment, compassion and connection!   Read the rest of this entry »


Montco Same Sex Marriage Licenses

July 25, 2013

We celebrated a moment of courage and righteousness yesterday when Pennsylvania’s first (unsanctioned) same sex-marriage license was issued!  Whether this advocacy strategy will be the action that leads to same-sex marriage rights in Pennsylvania, our culture is moving in the right direction.

Gay Marriage Pennsylvania

Here’s some analysis from Equality Pennsylvania:

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Conversation Inspired by the Film “The Attack”

July 24, 2013

Thank you to Ben-Zion Friedman for sharing this summary and issues raised in the discussion at Congregation Rodeph Shalom’s 65 + Connection Group’s recent viewing of the film “The Attack.”   Spoiler Alert…

The Attack

“The  Attack ” tells the fictional story of the heartbreak of an Israeli-Arab  doctor, Amin. The movie is told entirely from the point-of-view of Amin.  He  begins as a successful secular surgeon with a loving wife.  The attack refers to  a suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv restaurant.  Amin is the main trauma surgeon, and becomes totally devastated to learn that his secular Christian  wife was the terrorist suicide bomber.   Read the rest of this entry »


Of Zealots and Refuge: What perspective can our tradition offer on the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial?

July 22, 2013

Our tradition sometimes speaks to us in a still, small voice. In a passage from the prophets, God illustrates to the prophet Elijah, Eliyahu HaNavi, where to find God’s presence. God creates a furious wind, but God is not in the wind. God then creates an earthquake, but God is not in the earthquake. God then creates a fire, but God is not in the fire. After the fire, there was a Kol D’mamah Dakah, a still, small voice.

I hear and feel that Kol D’mamah Dakah, that still small voice, stirring within me when something resonates with me in a Jewish way. It’s telling me to pay attention, to consider carefully, to try to reach some new understanding based on Jewish teaching.

This week the Kol D’mamah Dakah stirred with the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. How am I to understand this terrible tragedy and the complicated national emotional response from a Jewish perspective?

While there are so many aspects in which this is a difficult story of murder, racial profiling and racial tension and so many questions about the nature of human behavior, the Kol D’mamah Dakah, the Jewish perspective within me has been stirred by trying to determine what to think about two things: George Zimmerman and Stand your Ground Legislation.

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Supporting the Bedouins in Israel

July 19, 2013

Last month, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center, circulated the important letter below, supporting the rights of Bedouins in Israel.  This week, Haaretz included this update.

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism whose nearly 900 congregations encompass more than 1.3 million Reform Jews across North America and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents more than 2,000 Reform rabbis, we write to express our concern about legislation currently pending in the Knesset commonly known as the “Begin Plan,” which will move large numbers of Bedouin from unrecognized villages to recognized ones. Read the rest of this entry »


One in 40 Ashkenazi Jews Carries the BRCA Gene Mutation: Preventative Surgery—Not the Promised Land, but Saving Lives

July 14, 2013

This fall, RS will partner with the Basser Research Center for BRCA to educate about the gene mutations related to breast, ovarian, and other cancers.  Mark your calendar for Sunday, Oct 6, contact me to get involved, comment here or privately to me to share how breast or ovarian cancer has touched you personally, and learn more with the following summary, based on the D’var Torah I delivered this Friday, July 12.

This May, actress Angelina Jolie, made the bold decision to publicly share her courageous, life-saving choice, to have a preventative double mastectomy.  Having watched her mother die of cancer at the age of 56, Jolie was counseled to be tested, learned she is a carrier of a BRCA 1 gene mutation, and was told that there was an 87% chance she would develop breast cancer, as well as a 50% chance that she would develop ovarian cancer.  Angelina Jolie’s decision was not an easy one. Read the rest of this entry »