The Hebrew language is rich with meaning and beauty. It offers us multiple layers of depth and understanding, and often the simplest and most oft-used words can elicit powerful emotional responses.
In this week’s parashah, Naso, God instructs Moses to instruct Aaron and his sons to offer the people of Israel a blessing. What follows is a 15-word 3-5-7 structure traditionally known as the Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly blessing, which is one of the oldest biblical texts in existence.
In 1979, a scroll with...Read More
George Floyd was murdered by an officer of the law whose duty was to protect him; he died crying out for his mother, begging to breathe. Ruach Elohim, the Divine Spirit, can be understood as the Breath of Life, a gift from the Creator of All Life. To deny a human being breath is idolatrous – and George Floyd’s murder comes after countless Black and Brown people have similarly been killed and countless others have suffered the brutal systems of racism in our country.
The United States simply cannot achieve the values of “justice for all" to which it aspires until we address ongoing...Read More
One of Israel’s hidden gems is a poet named Taha Muhammad Ali. Discovered after he turned 70, he was a numismatist who studied, collected, and sold coins in Nazareth. One of his poems, “Twigs,” includes the lines:
And thus It took me Sixty whole years Until I understood, That water is the best of all drinks, And that bread is the best of all foods, And that there is no value whatsoever to art Unless you instill a little happiness In the heart of man.
I think that you learn that water is the best of all drinks in a very hot climate, like Israel's, and you are parched and...Read More
If you are my friend, know that I am mourning the heinous murder of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers who worked for a police department with a long history of excessive use of force against Black and Brown bodies.
If you are my friend, know that I am suffocating. I can feel the police officer’s knee crushing my throat and I am gasping for air, desperate to live.
If you are my friend, know that I am broken. My heart has been ripped out, chopped up into tiny pieces that have been placed at the site of each murdered Black person in the United States. The blood...Read More
As I write this, Shavuot has just come to a close. As fulfilling as it was to engage in Tikkun Leil Shavuot programs facilitated by the Reform Jewish community, a lot weighs on me. With COVID-19 continuing to ravage Black communities and racist violence all over the news, I almost feel like it’s Yom Kippur instead – the time when Jews are supposed to be most aware of...Read More