Creating Peace

October 14, 2021

When I first joined Tiferet’s Spiritual Poetry Writing class in July 2020, I never expected to find a well-spring of creativity and a source of sustenance in an online community of writers, never imagined I would spend an entire year of Thursday afternoons on Zoom, connecting so deeply with strangers. The class is hosted and facilitated by Donna Baier Stein, an award-winning novelist, short story writer, and poet, founder of Tiferet Journal and a gifted teacher. Donna selects poems from a range of religious and spiritual traditions. She reads the first poem aloud, suggests a writing prompt to us, instructs us we’re free to choose a different prompt, sets a timer for 10 minutes, and reminds us to mute ourselves.  Then we free-write.  We repeat … Read more

Terms of Renewal

October 7, 2021

Just over 2 years ago, I posted about the process of healing the body and spirit following a prolonged period of stress. It was the month before Rosh Hashanah, and I’d been reflecting on the meaning of teshuvah as restoring oneself. I’m not surprised to find myself thinking and writing about these same themes as we begin the new Jewish year in the midst of a second year of the pandemic. One of the things that helped me maintain my emotional equilibrium during the past year was returning to the gym after months of quarantine. At first, classes were limited in capacity with participants distanced from one another, and the coaches and other staff wore masks. The manager had installed a state-of-the-art air filtration system … Read more

Return to Me

August 5, 2021

Earlier this week, when I was looking around the garage to see if there was anything more I could recycle or remove, I paused to ponder the shopping bag of plastic Target bags. After sixteen months of curbside pickup—despite having used many as garbage bags—I’ve accumulated quite a stash. I tossed them into the trunk of the car and tried to return them to Target, and was disappointed to learn they are not accepting returned bags at this time.  Maybe in a few months I’ll try again. Although it’s still summer, we’re in a season of return. Students are returning to school, my spouse and our son are returning to campus, I am returning to this blog and to the basement studio to throw pots. … Read more

Countdown to Shavuot

May 10, 2021

As I prepare to co-host a study session on Zoom at the virtual Tikkun Leyl Shavuot next week, I remember back to when getting ready for a Zoom festival was not part of the routine. Here’s a taste from my post on the Rabbis Without Borders blog from last Sukkot, October 1, 2020: The 3 ½ weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah are lost in a haze of last-minute purchases: a new modem, spare headphones, a wifi extender, and, finally, a 50-foot ethernet cable. Forget about connecting to the congregation, or God, without an enduring internet connection. The 5 weekdays between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are spent in meetings and tech rehearsals; what can we learn from the feedback we received following our virtual … Read more

Adulting: A Reflection on Gratitude

December 2, 2019

In case you missed my post on the Rabbis Without Borders blog last week–perhaps you were enjoying Thanksgiving with your family–I’m sharing the link here. It’s always a good time to feel grateful: Two months ago, I purchased a Dyson vacuum for my daughter for her 25th birthday. She was thrilled and posted about what great parents we were on Facebook, writing: “It’s a sign of adulting when you’re this excited about receiving an appliance as a birthday gift.” This made me think about when I began adulting. I was 22 years old when I packed one oversized suitcase and a canvas briefcase, and moved across the country. After six years as a student—four in college and two in graduate school—I was completely burnt out … Read more

90-day money-back guarantee

November 13, 2019

This week marks three months since the beginning of the school year at Congregation Bet Haverim Community School.  When I reflect on everything I’ve learned and experienced serving as a rabbi at CBHCS since August, I have trouble believing it’s been only three months. My brain knows exactly how many days have passed—just a few too many to claim a 90-day money-back guarantee—and my heart is so filled with memories, it seems I must have collected them for years. I want to share three highlights from the last three weeks: On the last Sunday in October, I was a participant in our Family Minyan, sitting in the second row while Rabbi Josh led the service. It’s difficult to explain how valuable the experience of watching … Read more

Restore Yourself!

September 23, 2019

My post on the Rabbis Without Borders blog this month is a personal narrative, in which I recount my attempt to find wholeness in the months leading up to the High Holy Days: A few months ago I realized I hadn’t been myself for a long time. I’d been under a lot of stress for the better part of two years. Fueled by adrenaline and plenty of coffee, I could make it through each day without acknowledging the toll on my health. Only in year three, when the stress lifted, did my body begin to fail. Many of the injuries I suffered could be categorized as minor, or a normal part of aging. Yet, in the aggregate, it seemed my mind-body connection had been severed, … Read more

God Desires My Freedom

July 15, 2019

On the Rabbis Without Borders blog, a reflection on being paralyzed by fear and finding a way forward, with the help of friends, including one who encouraged me to compose and share this prayer: “God Desires My Freedom,” recited at the Lights for Liberty Vigil to End Human Detention Camps, Plaza Fiesta, Chamblee, GA – July 12, 2019 En medio de mi angustia llamé al Señor; El Señor me respondió y me puso en un lugar espacioso. מִֽן־הַ֭מֵּצַ֥ר קָרָ֣אתִי יָּ֑הּ עָנָ֖נִי בַמֶּרְחָ֣ב יָֽהּ From the depths of despair I cry out to You, God; Answer me, from the wide open place of Your Presence. (Psalms 118:5) Here, in this narrow space, I am confined by anger and pain. I scream incoherently against the cruelty of … Read more

Summer Vacation in Immigration Court

June 13, 2019

On the Rabbis Without Borders blog, my personal story of accompanying an asylum seeker in immigration court: The email request arrives on Friday around 2:30 pm. The subject: “Accompaniment Urgently Needed for Asylum Court Case.” Volunteers are needed on June 6th. It’s been more than five months since I returned from Nogales, where I was immersed for three days in the work of the KINO Border Initiative. There I learned what the Jesuits mean by accompaniment: “Accompany is to be present with people on their journey. We cannot change their situations or solve their problems; we can listen, reassure them we care and they are not alone.” I’ve been waiting since December to fulfill this mission here in Atlanta. June 6th is the first day … Read more

‘Tis the Season: Graduation

May 24, 2019

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