Wax and Wicks

Jews have laws and customs for so many ritual details: washing hands in the morning, donning a tallit [prayershawl], the order of blessings before and after a meal, preparing a household for Passover, etc., etc., etc., etc. A special kavanah [intention] can be part of even the most mundane of actions, as well. But, while […]

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Map Your Heart Out, part 1

“Pursuing Racial Justice: The Jewish Underpinnings of Anti-Racism Work,” held recently at Adas Israel (DC) and featuring Yavilah McCoy of Visions-Inc and Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block of Bend the Arc, offered many insights and challenges. I plan to share some of what I gained in readable portions over the course of the next few days. I […]

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To open, moving “days between”

In her The Days Between, Marcia Falk writes of the “We cast into the depths” declaration of Tashlikh, the Rosh Hashana afternoon ritual of symbolic sin/crumb/twig tossing: “We seek in this declaration to free ourselves from whatever impedes our moving into the new year with clarity, lightness, and hope.” In addition, I suggest, we need […]

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Dwelling Within a Fallible Construction

Sukkot is the holiday “most closely associated with the Oral Law,” according to Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, as so much of the holiday — from identifying “p’ri eitz hadar” [“fruit of goodly trees”] (Lev 23:40) to determining what constitutes a sukkah — is determined via Oral Law (see below). Taking this thought one step further: Throughout […]

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Grateful Thanksgivakkah

In honor of this odd confluence of holidays — 30 Days of Dead, Chanukah, and Thanksgiving — I offer these thoughts on Jewish worship, text study and the Grateful Dead. It is not necessary to know anything about the (Grateful) Dead or to like them, musically or culturally, to explore this analogy. I’ve been told […]

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Beyond Bleary-Eyed Page Shuffling

Some Early Morning Blessing Resources offered with thoughts of Temple Micah’s upcoming siddur study group Why open a prayer book? The Art of Blessing the Day God’s Faith Morning Poetry More Links Why open a prayer book: “Sometimes you’re just too strung out to come up with your own personal prayers. Having the text in […]

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Beyond Body and Soul: Expanding Morning Prayers

I have heard it said, frequently from the bima of Temple Micah (Washington, DC), that a proliferation of words doesn’t always aid prayer. Rabbi Danny Zemel has often said that his own preference would be to choose just a few words on which to focus at any prayer service. I understand this perspective and do […]

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Speech, Suspicion, and Security

My God, help me remember that “just as the hand can kill, so can the tongue,” tweet, blog, or Congressional hearing…. Update from House Committee on Homeland Security — “On March 10, the Committee will convene the first in a series of hearings examining radicalization in the American Muslim community and the community’s response to […]

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Naso: Prayer Links

Toward the close of parashat Naso, twelve princes bring identical gifts as a dedication offering for the tabernacle (Bamidbar/Numbers 7:10 – 88). Twelve times, the same five verses, with minor variations of the “mail-merge” sort at the open and close, appear: The one who presented his offering on the {INSERT: ORDINAL} day was {INSERT: NAME} […]

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Is Thanks Ever Simple? – part 2

In light of the challenges I faced when asked to offer simple thanks during one morning’s prayers, I decided to explore the passage, included in many versions of the morning blessings, that begins: “Therefore, we are obliged to acknowledge and thank you…” Obliged to Thank– Or Not? This paragraph, which leads to recitation of the […]

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