Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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 … Read more

Embracing Gratitude in Challenging Times

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 … Read more

Four Rivers

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 … Read more

Torah and Trails with Teens

“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 … Read more

Persimmons and Willow Oaks

I was delighted to see friends from all around Metro Atlanta at the Tu B’Shevat tree planting in Wade Walker Park on Sunday, and honored to offer a teaching and kavanah, intention, before we began our work. While there isn’t a blessing to recite upon planting a tree, I shared Rebbe Nachman’s prayer (below). The … Read more

Who’s In & Who’s Out?

“The only really interesting questions are the unanswerable ones.” —Jacob Needleman I’m not sure why I’ve been vexed lately by the question of why human beings seem so invested in deciding who is in our group and who is the “other.”  Maybe it’s the seemingly endless rounds of voting to choose the Speaker of the … Read more

Love your student as yourself

You’ve probably heard the adage that elementary school teachers love children, high school teachers love their subject, and university professors love themselves. I suppose there’s a kernel of truth to this, but I’m going to push back a bit and suggest that it’s even more important for high school and university teachers to love our … Read more

Prayers Unanswered

בָּ֭עֶרֶב יָלִ֥ין בֶּ֗כִי וְלַבֹּ֥קֶר רִנָּֽה Tears may linger when night falls, but joy arrives with the dawn. (Psalms 30:6) My list of those in need of healing grows longer as the days get shorter. I wake up in the dark, sometime between 5:15 and 5:30 AM, and wonder at the Psalmist’s conviction. Each day I arrive … Read more