February 26, 2017
Maybe you’ve heard this one:
The Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Pope are in a meeting in Rome. The Rabbi notices an unusually fancy phone in the Pope’s private chambers.”What is that phone for?” he asks the pontiff. “It’s my direct line to God!” The Holy Father insists that the Rabbi try it out, and, indeed, he is connected to God and has a conversation with her. After hanging up the Rabbi says. “Thank you! Please let me reimburse you for my phone charges.” The Pope, of course refuses, but the Rabbi is steadfast and finally, the pontiff gives in. “All right! The charges were 100,000 Lira.” The Chief Rabbi gladly hands over a packet of bills. A few months later, the Pope is in Israel and in the Chief Rabbi’s chambers he sees a phone identical to his, and learns it also is a direct line to God. The Pope remembers he has an urgent matter that requires divine consultation, and asks if he can use the Rabbi’s phone. The Rabbi gladly agrees, hands him the phone, and the Pope chats away. After hanging up, the Pope offers to pay for the phone charges. The Rabbi says: “1 Shekel!” The Pope looks surprised: “Why so cheap!?” The Rabbi smiles: “Local call.” Read the rest of this entry »
February 21, 2017
It was a few days before our Berman Mercaz Limud model seder. As I was heading home for the day, I said to Rabbi Maderer in passing, “I’m off to boil six dozen eggs or so.” She looked at me incredulously, “Why exactly are you boiling all those eggs?” I explained that we had done a sign-up for our model seder and most of the items on the list had been covered but not enough families signed up for the hard boiled eggs and I was just going to do it myself.
Rabbi Maderer, an amazing mentor, then gave me some great advice that will always stay with me; she said, “You did not become a rabbi to boil six dozen eggs, you became a rabbi to empower others to boil eggs!”
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December 25, 2016
A rabbi named Francine Green Roston recently moved with her family from New Jersey to Whitefish, Montana, in search of a slower pace of life. As you can imagine, there are not many Jews in their new small town (although with a name like “Whitefish,” you’d think…) but Rabbi Roston has found a small Jewish community.
She also discovered that her neighbors include the white nationalist leader Richard Spencer. Last week, ignited by the emerging white supremacy movement, a neo-Nazi website issued a call to take action against the Jews of Whitefish. The site listed the names, pictures, contact information, and addresses of alleged Jews in town, and photo-shopped pictures of Rabbi Roston with a Nazi-era yellow star. Read the rest of this entry »
December 18, 2016
(delivered by Rabbi Maderer at Shabbat service 12/18/16) Last week I shared with you a time when I lived in the suburbs and my family overdid it in the area of home security. I made fun of the way that, even with a burglar alarm in our house, we added to the front porch, an extra security measure: a big dog-food bowl. Even though we did not have a dog. I went on to make fun of — and to be clear, I was making fun of my mother– I went on to make fun of the way that, to make it seem real, we painted onto the bowl the name of our fake dog: Shomer, Hebrew for “guard.”
Funny story: Last week, here in Philadelphia… you guessed it. My garage was broken into. Who here believes in karma?
Now, seriously, do you think there is a connection? One week I am making fun of my mother for over-securing our house all those years ago, and days after I write those words, a break-in. Coincidence? Karma? God? There was a time I would have said: there is no such thing as coincidence. I believed God influenced the details of our lives. Yet as my life and rabbinate move forward, I find my response to the world changes: more questions, less certainty of God’s role, judgment, or expectation. Read the rest of this entry »