More on Monsters and Storytelling

Exploring Babylon Chapter 20.1 A Monster Chronology On March 15, I watched author Junot Díaz interact with a room full of youngsters, introducing his new book, Islandborn (Dial Books for Young Readers), discussing the writing process, and exploring the concept of “monsters.” I subsequently told everyone who would listen about how much I’d enjoyed seeing […]

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MiShebeirach for Circles of Pain

Introduction: Every bullet leaves pain in circles rippling outward, like the diameter of the bomb the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai once described. Amichai’s bomb extends from 30 centimeters to the immediate range of dead and wounded, out to a solitary mourner “far across the sea,” finally encompassing “the entire world in the circle.” (Chana Bloch’s […]

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Prayers, Advocacy, and #RippleEffect

Continuing the discussion, at “If a corpse be found…”, about the need for new approaches to meeting our communal responsibilities. Some possible responses to the trauma and tragedy of multiple murders, particularly in Washington, DC — Prayer Residents in some of the most affected neighborhoods of the District are asking for prayers, calling on everyone […]

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Exploring Psalm 27 — (1 of 4)

For a little over 200 years, Psalm 27 has been associated with the season of repentance: Some have the custom of reciting this psalm during Days of Awe (10 days), some for the whole month of Elul as well (40 days), and some beginning on Rosh Hodesh Elul and continuing through Hoshana Rabba (51 days). […]

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Blood, Justice, Grief and Healing: A Tale for Two Birthdays

This week, Jews begin to move beyond the lowest point of the calendar, a period known as “The Three Weeks,” toward the new year. The Three Weeks focus on prophetic admonishment for our ethical failings, while the seven weeks that follow call for a renewed focus on a “path of justice.” Nelson Mandela’s birthday, July […]

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Honoring a Teacher: Hadiya Pendleton

Hadiya Z. Pendleton liked Fig Newtons and performed in a drill team that participated in Obama’s 2013 Inaugural parade. She lived in the Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago, not far from where I lived for several years and where friends still live, not far from the Obama family home. She never reached her 16th birthday, which […]

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Remember Miriam: Process & Patience in Parashat Ki Teitzei

“Remember what your God YHVH did to Miriam on the journey after you left Egypt.” — Deuteronomy/Devarim 24:9 — What is this personal remembrance doing in the midst of a portion which consists largely of commandment after commandment? And what might it tell us, in these days leading up to the high holidays, about memory […]

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Beha’alotekha and the Torah Service

Traveling with God did not make for a smooth trip through the wilderness, and prophecy seems to have engendered more conflict — in the community at large and within the leaders’ family — than clarity in this week’s portion. The Israelites appear in deep struggle with on-going revelation and with life together in the Presence….a […]

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Va-eira: More Great Sources

God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am HASHEM [YHVH]. I appeared [va-eira] to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El Shaddai, but with My Name HASHEM I did not make myself known [nodha’ti] to them. —Shemot/Exodus 6:2-3 (Stone translation*) The Holy Name of Being Rabbi Shefa Gold writes: THE BLESSING OF […]

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