On the Rabbis Without Borders blog, a tribute to 3 rabbis who influenced me as a student and newly ordained rabbi and who continue to impact my teaching and my students today. Thanks to Micah B. and Micah R., rising juniors at The Weber School, who created the image and gave me permission to post it: “Spring is graduation season. My Facebook feed is crowded with photos of my friends’ children in cap-and-gown garb, sporting smiles, and degrees from high schools, colleges, universities and professional schools all over the country…I love this time of year and—it will surprise no one who knows me to learn—I cry at every graduation I attend. I can’t help myself; I find the pomp and circumstance, arcane traditions and aspirational … Read more‘Tis the Season: Graduation
Many of my friends practice yoga. I never did. It’s just not my thing. Years ago, I used to run, and play volleyball and basketball. I was younger then. Now I prefer fast-walking, or taking an aerobics or spin class at the gym. My default mode when I exercise, like when I teach, is high energy. In the last year and a half, however, I’ve grown to appreciate the value of holding a yoga pose for several minutes and focusing only on breathing. Every morning, I spend nearly twenty minutes being still. This change in my behavior was not the result of a personal realization about yoga, rather a total surrender to treatment prescribed by a physical therapist. I’d re-injured a muscle in my shoulder, … Read moreMorning Exercises: Stillness
“What did you do during spring break?” I can hardly wait to get back to school Monday morning to ask, and answer, this question. Yesterday, I offered an invocation during the awards luncheon at the WICERS 2019 conference. It was the second-most meaningful meal, after our family Seder, of my Passover celebration. WICERS, an acronym for Women In Construction, Engineering and Related Services, is described on its website as “an exciting opportunity for professionals in construction, engineering, and other related fields to convene, share, and gain, powerful resources for personal and professional development.” The WICERS movement has a fascinating origin story, and how I came to be invited to participate in the luncheon and what I learned from the experience is a pretty good story, too. … Read moreWelcome to WICERS
On the Rabbis Without Borders blog, a reflection on praying at the Roswell Community Masjid (RCM) after the terrorist attack at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand: “I arrive nearly an hour early for Jumuah (Friday afternoon communal prayers). I want to visit briefly with the Imam and other friends before the service, because I know I’ll be rushing home after the prayers to finish preparing for Shabbat. I sit toward the back of the women’s section, close to the southern wall. Just as the Imam begins his remarks, a woman rushes in and sits beside me; she greets me with a whispered Asalam aleikum and a smile. We rise for communal prayer, and I take a step backward toward … Read moreTo Bow, Or Not to Bow?
On the Rabbis Without Borders blog, I continue my series of posts about my morning routine. This past week’s reflection is about prayer, specifically my singing of Psalms every morning: “I didn’t plan to return to the subject of poetry, or even that of prayer, in this blog post. But since waking up to the news of the horrific shooting in New Zealand on Friday, I’ve been doing quite a bit of praying every morning, so it seems only fitting to write about prayer this week. Usually, my morning exercise of prayer is dominated by the poetry found in the book of Psalms. I have a few favorites, and favorite lines in each one, and favorite melodies for a few of them. I sing or … Read moreMorning Exercises: Prayer
It’s always dark when the dogs wake me in the morning, and switching to Daylight Savings Time hasn’t changed anything. I’m not ready to rise, but dogs are creatures of habit and need to get moving in the morning. I have a few minutes between when they shake themselves awake and make their way to the front door. I use the time to turn on my phone flashlight, pull on my slip-on sneakers and zip up my jacket, because it’s always coldest before the dawn. Check the pockets for poop bags. Clip the leashes onto their collars—this usually takes me a few tries, because my fingers are not yet awake—clasp both leashes with my left hand so I can turn the deadbolt and door handle … Read moreMorning Exercises: Movement
“If poets ruled the planet, we’d still be living in caves, and we wouldn’t care about anything except writing.” —Janet R. Kirchheimer This was just one quotable line from Janet’s response to an email I sent to her, in which I confessed that I’d been writing poetry to procrastinate grading papers and answering emails. Janet, the CLAL teaching fellow who manages the LEAP program, is a poet, so I knew she’d understand my predicament. It’s been one week since I returned from Philadelphia, where I attended numerous lectures and seminars at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. I crammed a lot of learning into three days, attending not only the LEAP program but also a lecture in the Religion and the Global … Read moreMorning Exercises: Poetry
“Our life is a walk in the night, we know not how great the distance to the dawn that awaits us. And the path is strewn with stumbling blocks and our bodies are grown tyrannous with weeping yet we lift our feet. We lift our feet.” —Rachel Kadish in The Weight of Ink, p. 51 This morning the mourners will get up from sitting shiva and take a walk around the block. This tradition, an act that literally propels the mourners outside and returns them to daily activities, is also symbolic of the change in a mourner’s spiritual state, from deep and overwhelming grief to a kind of sub-surface sorrow, one that allows for the return to daily life. I will not accompany them, as I … Read moreWalk around the Block