Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A boss propositions a subordinate. The subordinate says no. The boss tries again and again, but is rebuffed each time. Finally, the boss spreads lies about the subordinate and has the subordinate fired, ruining the subordinate’s reputation and career. You may have read this story in the New York Times, but you can also find it in this week’s Torah portion, Vayeshev. Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and is eventually brought to serve Potiphar, one of pharaoh’s officers. Potiphar’s wife sees that Joseph is handsome and...
Shabbat Shalom. Thank you to Rabbi Marder for inviting me to return to Congregation Beth Am this evening. I had the pleasure of speaking to your synagogue as part of an interfaith response to Charlottesville, and it is wonderful to be back to discuss Global Jewish Advocacy – the heart of what I do.
A little over 111 years ago, on November 11, 1906, 31 individuals, including such noted American Jews as Cyrus Adler, Louis Marshall, Jacob Schiff, and Mayer Sulzberger, gathered at the Hotel Savoy in New York, following six previous exploratory meetings earlier that year. They officially formed...
That graveyard was about the loneliest place you could imagine. If I were to say it was going back to nature, you might get the idea that there was some sort of vitality about the place. But it was parched and sun-stricken. It was hard to imagine the grass had ever been green. Everywhere you stepped, little grasshoppers would fly up by the score, making that snap they do, like striking a match…. And this is something I remember very well. At first I thought I saw the sun setting in the east…. Then I realized that what I saw...
At eleven o’clock in the morning on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, a two-minute siren heard throughout the country marks the beginning of the day’s public commemoration ceremonies. Over the course of those two minutes, the entire country comes to a near standstill. People stop their cars on the roads and highways, get out, and stand at attention for the duration of the siren’s blast. Israeli radio and television stations focus their programming on stories of soldiers who lost their lives. The music is somber and the whole country feels like it is in mourning for those who lost their...
The rest of our session today will be very practical and pragmatic, very down-to-earth -- so I thought I would introduce it with just a bit of poetry. From the great Hebrew poet of the last century, Leah Goldberg:
B’chol davar yesh l’fachot shminit / shel mavet.
In everything there is at least an eighth part
that is death.
Its weight is not great.
With what secret and carefree grace
we carry it wherever we go.
On lovely awakenings, on hikes,
in lovers’ words, in distraction
forgotten at the edges of our being
always with us. It doesn’t weigh...