Music & Memory

April 18, 2024

It’s been a little more than a week since I had the good fortune to attend a concert at Byers Theatre in Sandy Springs, and just one week since I wrote a poem about the experience. This morning, when I learned that poetry class wouldn’t be meeting, I decided to spend a little time revisiting the memories that Itzhak Perlman’s performance evoked while revising the poem.  I share it with you and … Read more

No Class Today

February 15, 2024

There’s no Spiritual Poetry Writing class today. Donna usually takes a week off between workshop series, and who could blame her? She works tirelessly to create a safe and supportive space in the Zoom room for us poets. We pour out our heartache and joy into words, 10 minutes at a time, and then we share. I am comforted when I’m not the only one who struggles to decipher her scribbled cursive. … Read more

Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 14, 2024

As we prepared for Shabbat at Temple Kol Emeth on Friday morning, our Director of Member Engagement, Cindy Livingston, polished up my monthly reflection with a beautiful banner and a new-and-improved title: Reflections from Rabbi Gottfried: The Power of Rereading I never used to reread books. And I didn’t understand why some people advocated for what I believed was tedious and time-consuming. Time is better spent reading new books.  But lately, as … Read more

When Circuitous Paths are the Right Ones

December 25, 2023

יַֽנְחֵנִי בְמַעְגְּלֵי־צֶדֶק You guide me on circuitous paths… I was at the top of my professional game in the fall of 2018: Serving as the Dean of Jewish Studies and on the Academic Leadership Team at The Weber School, beginning my second decade of teaching other people’s teenagers, engaging in meaningful advocacy work for social justice and fully expecting to continue living my values in this manner until I was ready to … Read more

Embracing Gratitude in Challenging Times

November 22, 2023

Well, a lot has happened in the past 45 days. I remain grateful to be able to serve my community at Temple Kol Emeth (TKE) in Marietta, GA, together with the strong and supportive professional team, caring and committed lay leadership, and two of the best rabbis I know: Rabbi-Educator Daniel Alter and Rabbi Emeritus Steven Lebow. Here are some highlights from the months of October and November: Most recently, we hosted … Read more

Elul: Countdown to High Holy Days

August 21, 2023

It has been almost 2 full months since my last blogpost here, and I’m feeling remorse about having abandoned my writing practice for the summer. I will try to regain equilibrium in the new year of 5784. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that any improvements to my work-life balance will have come incrementally during the next 8 weeks. We’ve reached the month of Elul in the Jewish calendar, less … Read more

This Week on Bayit’s Builders Blog

June 28, 2023

The Death of Aaron, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902) or a follower I’m delighted to have contributed this week’s teaching to Bayit’s Builders Blog series that explores Torah through a lens of building and civic responsibility. Reading this week’s Torah portion, I found myself captivated by Numbers, Chapter 20. In my reflection for the blog, I returned to a topic I’d written about in November, Jewish burial practices: … Read more

God Bless This Mess

June 15, 2023

When I was a teenager, my bedroom was an unholy mess. Piles of books, notebooks, papers, record albums, clean clothes and dirty laundry inhabited every surface: from desk, dresser, nightstand and bed, to the wall-to-wall carpet, including under the bed and the closet floor. I’m not sure why I chose to live this way as a teenager. Was I expressing my innermost feelings, rebelling against my parents, or merely asserting order over … Read more

Four Rivers

May 24, 2023

Visiting friends in Philadelphia last month, I had occasion to drive across the Delaware River and was reminded of a relaxing afternoon I spent in an inner tube in this river nearly two years ago.  I wrote about the experience in my 5782 Rosh Hashanah Message in the Atlanta Jewish Times: “Riding the gentle rapids of the Delaware, I’m reminded of four rivers in Genesis—the Pishon, the Gihon, the Tigris and the … Read more

Torah and Trails with Teens

May 12, 2023

“It is forbidden to live in a town that has no garden or greenery.” —Talmud Yerushalmi, Kiddushin 4:12 Preparing our final culture unit in Spanish 3 led me to a book on the bottom shelf, one I hadn’t used in a while: Torah and Trails: A Photographic Trail Guide Connecting Judaism with Nature by Margery Diamond. This beautiful book of photographs and inspirational Jewish wisdom was just what I needed to plan … Read more