ACT: Advocacy. Education. Philanthropy. Service.

Perspectives

Houston. Florida. Puerto Rico. Northern California. These are just four of the stories of natural disasters bringing destruction and devastation to our neighbors. As these disasters approach, while they are happening and in their aftermath we often ask ourselves, “What can we do?” With each successive event, many of us have asked the community, “What are we doing?” We can experience a wide range of emotions during these times. At times we feel empathy for those su...

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Purim Renewed

Reflections

As a young child, I loved the holiday of Purim. I would dress up, usually as Queen Esther, head to temple, watch the Purim Spiel and win prizes from playing games at the carnival. One year, dressed in a poofy 80s pink dress, I even ended up in the local newspaper! But, likely, between the ages of 9-22, with the exception of one celebration in Israel, I forgot about the holiday. It seemed, after all, to be a children’s holiday. My love for the holiday of Purim returned when I entered ra...

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What’s So Bad about Idolatry?

News and Views

After all, it is idolatry—far more than the wicked and insane Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes—that stands as the real villain of our Hanukkah holiday. That same Antiochus was crowned king decades before the Maccabees ever rose up in revolt against him. In fact, many of our ancestors in Jerusalem favored Epiphanies, whose cosmopolitan outlook suited those Jews who wanted to become a greater part of the Hellenic culture that dominated their day. But in 168 B.C., something changed....

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The Door Marked "Teshuva"

Yom Kippur 5778

When you enter the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, you have a choice to enter through one of two doors: a door marked PREJUDICED or a door marked UNPREJUDICED. A door marked PREJUDICED or a door marked UNPREJUDICED. Which door would you choose? What if the doors were marked with the character traits GENEROUS and GREEDY? Which attribute describes you? Which door would you go through? Or what about MERCIFUL and JUDGMENTAL? Which door would you enter? Chances are, you picked the good doo...

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You Don't Believe in God, Do You?

Kol Nidre 5778

Harvey in Houston.  Irma on the East Coast.  Maria tearing through Puerto Rico. Flood waters rise unfathomably high, stand a biblical 40 days and 40 nights.  Waters cover the face of the earth.  Earthquakes in Mexico City topple mansions and mountains alike.  An “Act of God”" might be how insurance adjustors describe the devastating natural disasters we have witnessed.  But, as we gather in our sanctuary on Kol Nidre night, we can be neither so dising...

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Defending the Enlightenment

Rosh Hashanah 5778

You’re not as smart as you think you are.[i] So read the daunting headline in The Economist.  Think about it: you use zippers all the time, right?  Do you know how one works?  Sit and think and try and explain the actual function of a zipper: having a hard time? Are we as smart as we think we are if we can’t explain the function of objects we use every day?  According to this interview with cognitive scientist Steven Sloman, we really don’t even know the...

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Being Present for the Pain of Others

Rosh Hashanah 5778

I was sitting in my college dorm room in October of 2004.  It was Game 4 of the World Series. I watched as the batter hit a comebacker to the mound and the pitcher flipped the ball to first base.  The Boston Red Sox had won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. I sat in shock, unable to respond, unsure of what to do.  For a moment. That moment, quickly, wore off.  I knew exactly what to do.  I knew how to celebrate with my friends around me.  I knew&n...

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On Becoming a Bat/Bar Mitzvah

March 11, 2000. The day I became a Bat Mitzvah. The Torah portion was Pekudei, the very last Torah portion in the book of Exodus. I chanted both my Torah and Haftarah, and then I delivered my very first d’var Torah. My Torah portion was about building the Tabernacle and all of the details needed to set its foundation. That morning I shared with my family and friends that my Bat Mitzvah was the foundation of my Tabernacle, for it was only the beginning of my Jewish journey... I was only ...

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The Meaning of Life

CCAR Journal Article by Rabbis Limmer and Greene

CCAR Journal| Winter 2017 ~   The Meaning of Life:  An Intergenerational Literary Conversation among Max Fitzgerald, Rabbi Amanda Greene,  and Rabbi Seth Limmer (Chicago Sinai)

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How to be Part of the World Around Us

A couple of weeks ago, I invited a close friend to a Martin Luther King Day event.  The event featured a number of speakers including leaders from the Black Lives Matter movement. “I can’t come with you,” she told me. “Really? Why?” I asked. “Black Lives Matter is anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.” She stated matter-of-factly. An intelligent, educated, professional who dismissed the entire organization because of one part of their platform. She was ...

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