If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix.

If you believe that you can harm, then believe that you can heal.

Rebbe Nachman (Likutei Moharan II: 112)

Rosetta, Miami Temple, and the Winter Jews

As a child singing in front of a choir, Rosetta Nubin was forbidden by her mother to bend over and pick up coins tossed at her by white visitors to the church. She discovered by accident, however, that a large brimmed hat could collect coins without her bending or her mother’s knowledge. This particular recollection, […]

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The Well of Sight, Seeing, Seen

“Ishmael, Isaac, and a Reunion of Cousins” raised questions about what it means for Isaac to settle at Beer Lahai Roi, the wellspring that is already home to Ishmael, after the brothers have buried their father, Abraham. The Shalom Center proposes bringing this story (Gen 25:7-11) into the Days of Awe to suggest “turning and […]

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Lekh Lekha: Language and Translation

The Stranger’s Strange Words: a theology Chapter 16 of Breishit/Genesis introduces the character of Hagar — as in stranger [ger] — who serves as Sarah’s maid and bears Ishmael to Abraham. In one of two episodes in which we find Hagar (and Ishmael) out in the wilderness, she meets an angel/messenger of God [malach yud-hey-vav-hey]. […]

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Babylon and 929

Babylon — in fact, “The Three ‘Bavels’” — is featured this past week on the English portal for “929,” chapter-a-day study in the Hebrew Bible: The place name, בבל, bavel can refer to: Babel, Babylon, or Babylonia. Each of these ancient “Bavels” suggests a model for the 21st century…. The rise of Bavel/Babylonia was a […]

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Now What? Exploring Babylon Stage Two

I launched the “Exploring Babylon” project on this blog in October 2017. Stage One was to run for roughly 40 weeks, from Sukkot through Tisha B’av. WordPress statistics tell me that I’ve posted 40 times in the category, “Exploring Babylon,” although not entirely on the weekly schedule I’d originally planned, and Tisha B’av is fast […]

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Strange and Familiar

Exploring Babylon Chapter 23 Although just published (May 2018), Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” was completed in 1931, based on work begun in the 1920s. Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon relates the story of a West African and his experience, before, during, and after U.S. slavery. Some of the content, as well as […]

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A Song of Reward and Punishment

Exploring Babylon Chapter 22 Here is further response to a long-ago comment of Max Ticktin (z”l), based on the words of Jeremiah and in a sort of homage to Leonard Cohen. “Has this song gone on too long? A song of reward and punishment for exiles in Babylon and elsewhere” The theme repeats again and […]

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Notes on Jeremiah: Max Ticktin’s Scribbles

Exploring Babylon Chapter 21 Several updates below. In addition to the many other things he left us, Max Ticktin z”l (1920-2016) left behind a lot of books, and his family kindly offered them to interested community members. Some of the volumes I inherited this way are from a Tanakh that was re-bound, as a gift […]

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A Song of Reward and Punishment

Exploring Babylon Chapter 22 Here is further response to a long-ago comment of Max Ticktin (z”l), based on the words of Jeremiah and in a sort of homage to Leonard Cohen. “Has this song gone on too long? A song of reward and punishment for exiles in Babylon and elsewhere” The theme repeats again and […]

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Dick Gregory and Rabbis Under Rome

“Joseph found out it’s dangerous to be a dreamer….Or sell the dreamer into slavery; purchase the dream with foundation grants or government deals…” Dick Gregory, in 1974, sounded a whole lot like Rabbis under Roman rule.

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Warring Nations, Sibling Tears

The Torah portion Toldot (Gen. 25:19 – 28:9) illustrates the struggles of nations and individuals. We are simultaneously the inheritors of this mess and the participants – all of them – in the heart-breaking. So, I want to look at the sad state we’re in and see if we can find a way through by […]

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Foreign and Familiar

In this week’s Torah portion, two of the central characters receive new names: Abram becomes Abraham (Gen 17:4), and Sarai, Sarah (17:15). God announces this to Abraham as part of a statement of the covenant between them. Both Abraham אַבְרָהָם and Sarah שָׂרָה now have a “ה” (hey) in their names. Thus, each now carries […]

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