We are living through a time of great conflict—a time when sometimes it seems any hope of unity in our nation is out of reach, and factions have become so wildly different in worldview that the center cannot hold.
Blessings don’t just reflect our experience of the world around us, they shape it. They are a way of exercising discipline over what we notice, what we appreciate, how we make meaning out of what happens to us.
These four years have left us metaphorically, spiritually, and literally breathless. It could be easy to surrender, to permit ourselves to become complacent, stuck, immobilized. But we cannot. Hopelessness is the enemy of justice. Which means hope is our superpower.
I stumbled upon this poem in the midst of the oppressive wildfire smoke that seemed to embody the endless, heavy grey period when our world felt paused. Even now, when skies have cleared, it speaks to me of the futile feeling of this in-between time, and of pondering whether action truly matters.
Here in our sanctuary, we don’t have open pits, and we don’t have hazardous oxen, but we do know some dangers are likely. It’s 100% guaranteed that there will be another earthquake in Seattle someday, for example. It is a known danger, but are we prepared? Mishpatim suggests we are responsible to make known hazards less dangerous. Like we should get prepared for if there was an earthquake during services.
One thing that is on many of our minds this Shabbat, as we begin a secular new year, is the alarming rise in anti-Semitism and hatred and violence expressed toward Jews.
It took months of coming to Torah study before I realized that reading the Torah is not what we’re doing. We are dismantling it and putting it back together, and we are doing it with love and skepticism.
I believe the Jews put too much power into the golden calf while our government is putting too much power into a vision of America
I have thought of language as a flock of birds, since like birds our stories transcend borders.
To be a Jew, and to participate in this annual ritual, is—I believe--to be able to see our own, as well as others’ humanity, more broadly. We come together on this day not only for ourselves, not only for the community whose destiny we share, but also for the larger collective enterprise that we call humanity.