Micro-Jewish Communities

Over the past few months I've learned some important lessons as we've gathered to share Shabbat and holiday celebrations. Each time we've met, our hosts have invited their own friends to join us. The power of these celebrations has been in small groups of friends gathering around the table and in the living room. While traditional synagogues and temples try and bring everyone together at once, OHEL has, by accident, taught me the power of building micro-communities. As the world grows smaller and people are more connected than ever on social media the lack of real, deep connection we feel is striking. Oversaturated news feeds and the overwhelming white noise force us to shut off the flow e

Did a Great Miracle Happen There?

When the results of the senatorial election in Alabama came in on this past Tuesday night, many Jews posted celebrations of "a great miracle happened there" (in Alabama) on social media. Indeed it seemed miraculous to many that a democrat (and a progressive one at that) could carry a deeply red state and upset a conservative evangelical candidate. Others argued that despite the victory, the 1.5% gap that prevented an accused sexual predator from assuming a senatorial office was too small. Many felt that the decision to choose propriety over party should have been even more clear with a far larger spread between the two candidates. One particularly interesting comment I read, from a rabb

We Have Enough

"And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him so that they could not speak a friendly word to him." (Genesis 37:4) This past Shabbat we read from parshat Vayeshev the cause of the strife amongst Jacob's sons. To Joseph's brothers there just wasn't enough love for them. This yearning for love and acceptance fuels many of the fires that continue to burn our inter-personal, inter-communal, and international relationships. And these flames are fanned when love and acceptance are seen as limited commodities. When there is a limited amount of love and one brother receives more than I do then I have cause for fear, frustration and anger. O

Jerusalem is Recognized by the US as the Capital of Israel

Just a few moments ago, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is beginning the process of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Trump was careful to note that this move does not, in any way, indicate America's position on any final status negotiations. Those decisions, he says, are up to the Israelis and Palestinians. It's hard to know how to react to this action. On the one hand - I certainly agree that the United States' embassy should be in Jerusalem and I have dreamt of the day when the international community would recognize what Israel has known since its founding - that Jerusalem is its eternal capital. On the other hand, I

Truth vs. Fact

Lately I've been teaching a series of classes to both adults and children called Facts vs. Truth. (I'll be offering this class again as a part of OHEL after the first of the year.) The class has struggled with the question of whether or not it matters if the Torah is not factually history and whether our traditions be true if they are not fact. This past week we again saw an assault on facts: The retweets of unverified, Islamophobic videos, the questioning of the authenticity of the Access Hollywood tae, the continued attacks against the press. It seems that we now live in a world in which facts simply don't matter. And while in my teaching I argue that facts don't matter to the value and va

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