Blog: Rabbi Feinstein

Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on September 26, 2018

This is a story I tell to children. But it really isn’t for them. It’s for all of us who are tired of the phone ringing, the people who ask for just a little time, the family whose demands never end.  Did you ever wish they would all go away and leave you alone? And if they did, how long before you’d miss them? How long before you would discover that the greatest joy in life is knowing that you’re needed and you’re loved?

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on September 26, 2018

He sat before me, a typical petulant 13-year old. It was a week or so before his Bar Mitzvah and he had announced to his family at dinner last night that he didn’t believe in God and didn’t want to have a Bar Mitzvah. They didn’t know what to do. Cancel the simcha? The invitations already went out, the caterer had already been paid, the yarmulkas were on order… Send him to the rabbi. So here he sat. 
    “You don’t believe in God?” I asked him. 
    “No,” he confessed, with eyes cast downward, like he’d just told the Vice Principal that it was his spitball that hit the head cheerleader.
    “Ok, let’s talk.” He looked up at me relieved I wasn’t going to take out a magic wand and place a curse on him. 
    “You don’t believe in God. Ok. When you say that, what do you mean by God?” 
This was a question he did not expect. 
    “You’re a rabbi, you know... God.” 
    “Yes, but that’s a slippery word. What do you mean by God?”

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on September 13, 2018

As you drive north along the Eastern slopes of the Sierras, on the way up to Mammoth, just past the town of Lone Pine, you pass a desolate, lonely place called Manzanar. You should stop and visit. Today, Manzanar is a National Historical Site. In 1942, it was an internment site, one of ten along the West Coast, for more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans who were uprooted from their homes and imprisoned by the United States government following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese Americans were said to be spies, providing information to the Japanese command. With no evidence, they were accused of sabotaging the defenses of the West Coast, and inviting a Japanese invasion.

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on July 5, 2018

A time will come in the next generation when we will have to explain to our children and grandchildren how it was that even into the middle of the 20th century women were considered lesser. How could it be that opportunities and possibilities enjoyed by men were closed to women simply because they are women? And when they asked us how that changed, how women earned equal rights, there will be many stories to tell. Among the most dramatic will be story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, who was awarded the Genesis Prize for Lifetime Achievement this week in Jerusalem. In our times, moral heroes are hard to find. Especially in government. “RBG” is a soul to hold up and celebrate.

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on May 24, 2018

Reprinted from Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of American Jewish University's Today's Torah publication.

All of five feet tall in his stiff new suit and shiny shoes, he can barely be seen over the bima. In a cracking adolescent voice, he announces, "Today I am Bar Mitzvah. Today I am a man!" Yes, you are. But what do you know about being a man? A Jewish man? What can we tell you?

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on May 23, 2018

Rabbi Ed Feinstein guest stars on two podcasts: Jay's 4 Questions and 18 Questions with Rick Recht

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on May 3, 2018

I asked the children in our school -- what’s the difference between a noun and a verb?

Every child knew the answer: A noun is a person, place or thing. A verb is an action, something we do.

Then I asked them: What is “God” -- a noun or a verb? They all gave the answer -- God is a noun. God is a Someone, or maybe a Something, but definitely a noun.

So what can you tell me about that noun? I asked. Long pause, then: Nothing. God is beyond all description. God is infinite. There are no words to describe God.  

So I asked again -- What if God is a verb? If God is a verb, God would be something we do -- an act, a deed, a gesture. Can God be a verb?

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on April 4, 2018

Rosh Hashanah in 2003 marked the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s immortal “I Have a Dream” speech. On that occasion, I shared the following sermon with the VBS community. This week, we commemorate the 50th yahrtzeit of Dr King, the fiftieth year since his assassination. Ironically, it falls during these days of Pesach -- our holiday of liberation from slavery and our celebration of human dignity. It is fitting to return again to Dr King’s prophetic words, in his memory, and as a timely last word for our Pesach. Abraham Joshua Heschel, the great Jewish philosopher, declared that Martin Luther King was the evidence that God has not given up on the United States of America. May his memory on this his 50th yahrtzeit be a blessing to our nation.    

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on January 18, 2018

In everything there is a living point from the Root of Life.  But that inwardness lies hidden in this world.  The Jew has to arouse and reveal this inwardness that lies within all things”  (Sefat Emet)

I first met Mark Borovitz in 1990. Someone told me there was a remarkable man who had just come out of jail and had a message to share with Jewish young people. I was the director of Camp Ramah. I took a chance and invited Mark to come speak to our campers. As I watched, he captivated a room of 110 16-year olds for more than two hours. His message was simple, but so very powerful -- “You matter.” That message was delivered by a man who had experienced life as few of us do.

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on November 15, 2017

In 1965, the great Jewish philosopher, Abraham Joshua Heschel stood at this podium and addressed the GA, assembled in Montreal.

“There are two words I should like to strike from our vocabulary,” he declared, “ 'surveys' and 'survival'.”

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