A Year In Progress

Perspectives

The modern American musical, Rent, famously asks the question, “how do you measure a year?” I have recently been thinking a lot about the transformative experience of a year, how much can change over the course of 12 brief months. Over the last couple of months and the next couple of months, I have marked and will mark a number of meaningful one year anniversaries. It was a year ago in February that I first visited Chicago Sinai Congregation and the city of Chicago. It was a ye...

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Three Simple Summer Tasks

Reflections

My Summer To-Do List: 1. Take a long walk. 2. Read a good book. 3. Make a new friend. Advice I learned from Rabbi Lisa Greene, who often quoted her father, Rabbi Barry Greene’s annual summer to-do list (and no we are not related). Take a long walk. I hope to take many long walks. I love summer in Chicago. When the weather is nice, I try my best to be outside. I think Rabbi Barry Greene’s advice was poignant -- for what happens on those long walks? My mind wanders, and yet I ...

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Summer Reading!

News and Views

Make your books your companions; let your cases and shelves be your pleasure-grounds and orchards. Bask in their paradise, gather their fruit, pluck their roses, take their spices. —Judah Ibn Tibbon, Tzavaah A few summers ago, I shared my 11th grade tale regarding “summer reading”, and so I won’t regale you with repeated tales at this time as we turn the calendar to June. However, as we Jews are known as “People of the Book”, and as many of us see the su...

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Israel: Two Categories of Debate

Perspectives

There is a teaching that says that there are two different kinds of arguments, two categories of debate.  The Ethics of our Ancestors, Pirkei Avot, teaches that some debates are for the sake of heaven and other debates are not for the sake of heaven. The rabbis asked, “What does it mean for an argument to be for the sake of heaven?” A debate for the sake of heaven has everlasting value.  It is an argument in which the two sides respect and value each other, where they ...

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Israel: A Journey

Reflections

“Your trip can be just another vacation, or it can be the journey of your life,” writes Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman in his book Israel: A Spiritual Travel Guide. I still remember my first trip to Israel. I was 18 years old, a senior in High School. It was a teen trip through my home syangogue. I still remember the first time I stepped off the bus. That first breath of fresh air. I’d always heard stories of people kissing the ground upon landing in Israel. The Tel Aviv airport...

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Israel's 70th Birthday: A Conversation + A Celebration

News and Views

There is a moment in our lives when we realize our parents aren’t perfect. Those moments may be unsettling, but—for most of us—they are far from tragic. Looking back over teenage years likely filled with some rough spots, we realize that even as we adjusted our conception of our parents, we did so around a remaining pillar of loving relationship. In retrospect, hopefully we also believe those relationships are deeper because, instead of being based on unrealistic expectat...

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My Rabbinic Journey

Installation Reflections

I am full of gratitude this evening, for all of you for being here tonight, for helping to create the Sinai community that we all care about so deeply. At the risk of leaving someone out, I would like to thank a couple of people by name. Rabbi Zinn, for coming and speaking this evening. I have been asked many times what it is like to be a Rabbi and have a brother who is also a Rabbi. I am lucky enough to not know anything else. My only experience as a Rabbi is with a brother who is a Rabb...

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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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