The Shutdown

We all watched the government grind to a halt last weekend as Democrats and Republicans refused to budge on their respective positions. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, it was frustrating, at best, to watch mature adults refuse to budge and hurl childish attacks across the isle at one another, each blaming the other for the obstinance that shut down national parks, halted payments to federal workers and assistance to the elderly and put on hold the vital work that our officials are elected to do. Each side talked endlessly about the need to work together and come to bipartisan compromises but neither side seemed willing to do the hard work of making that happen. Whil

The Plague of Anger

“And Aaron stretched out his arm over the waters of Egypt and the frog arose and covered the land of Egypt” (Exodus 8:2). Here we are in the Torah portion of Vaera, knee-deep in the ten plagues. We all know about the plague of frogs. But read the verse above again. Do you notice something unusual about it? It says: “and the frog arose and covered the land of Egypt.” The word “frog” is written in the singular (“tzefardei’a” in the original Hebrew). Rashi finds a Midrash that sees into the unusual wording of our verse: “There was one frog, and when they would hit it, it would spew out bands and bands of little frogs” (based on Midrash Tanchuma, Va’eira 14). Apparently, God caused one giant f

In Memory of a Rock Star

As a Jewish educator, every once in a while, you come across a young person who really has an impact on you. Not just a youngster who inspires and educates you - we are blessed with many of those - but one who really changes you. This past summer was my first at Ramah Darom. One of the great privileges of being Rosh Musica was facilitating the Nivo U band. For eight weeks I met for three hours a day with a dedicated group of young musicians who wanted to share their music with the camp community. Ari Weiss was one of those musicians. Ari was at camp for all eight weeks but only a part of the Nivo U band for the first four (officially). We kept bringing Ari back for guest appearances both in

The Gift of Light

When we enter a dark room and turn the lights on, the first thing we do is become aware of the things around us. What’s on the floor that we might trip on? Where is a comfortable chair in which to sit? So too, in the darkest months of the year we turn on lights. We light our holiday lights and with their light see our world in a different way. We see those who have been left to sleep on the floor – those we try our best not to trip over. We see those who have made comfortable lives for themselves. Those who have realized the “American dream.” The “holiday season” as we like to call it, illumines our world so that those of us on the comfortable chairs have no choice but to become aware

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