Eighty years ago on January 20, 1942, the infamous Wannsee Conference took place in a large lakeside three-story mansion in suburban Berlin. Fifteen Nazi German leaders attended the meeting that coordinated plans to "orderly execute" ---murder--- millions of Jews during World War II.
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As I thought about what would be involved if we did our own Tu BiShvat seder, it seemed interesting and fun. Tasting lots of fruits? Marking a time to appreciate, mindfully and respectfully, trees and the earth? Drinking wines and grape juices? Yes, please.
New Year's Day and the traditional resolutions that accompany it invite us to take stock of our lives. Are we living our lives to the fullest? Can we imagine a future in which the commitments we make for ourselves (e.g., healthier habits around eating and exercise) actually come true? What will it take this year to really change?
From Covid and climate change to the erosion of democratic norms and the decline of a shared sense of truth (and the list could go on), two things are clear. First, are we living in an age that tests our ability to sustain hope. Second, if despair dominates hope, we will be unable to meet the challenges that beset us.
At 10, Jeff Erlanger appeared on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in his wheelchair. I recently asked Jeff’s parents about how they raised such a competent and loving son.
There are a lot of creative ways to make Hanukkah meaningful when we pause to ask ourselves a few good questions before automatically going into shopping mode.
On November 9, we will mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass), the Third Reich's first large-scale attack on the Jews of Germany and Austria in 1938.
Limiting the time we are on our devices and setting an intention about what we do there are small steps that can alter our relationship to the digital world. By committing to these changes in our day-to-day lives, we can more readily guide our kids to do the same.
Mussar represents what I have come to call “the Jewish Road to Character,” a Jewish path of study and spiritual practice focused on building the soul traits or the virtues that are at the core of our being.
When I became rabbi of Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, NJ, I quickly discovered that some people in our community thought we were a church. Mail was addressed to “Monmouth Reformed Temple,” and letters were addressed “Dear Pastor.”