Anti-Muslim or Anti-Jew, It’s All Bigotry

March 31, 2015

I recently coordinated a panel on global anti-Semitism. Participants learned about the efforts of the U.S. State Department and the American Jewish Committee in their work urging foreign governments to crack down on the perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks.   I was struck by a comment from US Department of State Team Leader of Anti-Semitism and Europe in the Office of International Religious Freedom, Stacy Bernard Davis: “What used to be fringe is now voted into Parliament.”

Sadly, I believe Davis’ message can be extended.  What used to be fringe is now… published in the mainstream press… used for votes… sponsored as bus advertisements. Read the rest of this entry »

A prayer for the State of Israel and for us all

March 22, 2015


Tonight I pray for the State of Israel. And I pray in dismay and worry, having heard the statement from the Prime Minister, broadcast around the world: We are willing to become smaller, so we don’t have to think bigger; we would rather cover the bud than take this chance to bloom.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reminder Days: LGBT Movement’s 50th Anniversary

March 22, 2015

This month, the National Constitution Center and the William Way LGBT Community Center announced a partnership for an exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first LGBT protests in the nation. In 1965, and for the next 4 years, gay rights activists gathered outside Independence Hall carrying picket signs and demanding legislation that would secure the rights of LGBT Americans. Thirty-nine people attended the first picket.  These early annual protests, called “Reminder Days” did just that– they reminded our nation that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were not yet accessible to all Americans.

This week, as we begin the book of Leviticus, we learn about animal sacrifice from parashat Vayikra: “Make the offering a male without blemish.”   Zachar tamim.  The word for male, zachar, shares the same Hebrew root for the word, memory.  A creative translation might read: Make the offering a memory without blemish.  Or, Remember, and make no mistake.  Read the rest of this entry »

Haggadah Recommendations

March 20, 2015

I hope your Pesach preparations are going well!  If you’re ready to pull out the post-it’s and prepare to lead your own seder, here’s a list of Haggadah suggestions, from most in-depth to most simple… Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Down the Fence

March 13, 2015

This week, we have witnessed the chain-link fence around the congregation come down!  We are not simply taking it down because it’s old or ugly.  We are taking the fence down as we build up our relationships and partnerships within the community and throughout Philadelphia!

Jewish law teaches the one stipulation for a sanctuary design is the inclusion of windows.  Our prayers ought to be informed by what happens in the streets, and how we behave in the street ought to be inspired by our words of prayer.  Our parking lot, our entire property, too, ought to be open to the sidewalks and streets of our neighborhood.  May the fences of our property and the fences in our lives continue to come down.

Mourning a Suicide and Seeking Resources

March 10, 2015

Our hearts go out to our neighbors in the Shipley School community who mourn the tragic death of Cayman Naib.  Jewish wisdom teaches us that we are all created in God’s image, that every life has inherent value and the highest mitzvah–obligation–is to save a life. We are taught compassion for all of those of suffer and struggle with depression and for their families.  And we are taught that if ever we can save a life, it is as if we save the entire world.

For some, the loss of this young man may become a time to deepen understanding and seek support around suicide.   Here are some general resources as well as an article below from a Jewish author: Read the rest of this entry »