Right now, there is a viral video making its way across the internet of the Alt-right leader, Richard Spencer getting clocked by an unknown assailant. Spencer has been denying the Holocaust, rousing xenophobia, and hosting rallies in conferences which include Nazi-era salutes. Spencer says he is not a Nazi, yet his choosing to fashion himself on the model of early twentieth century German iconography, paired with a lapel pin that is a common anti-Semitic cartoon character belies his crocodile tears telling and reveals his true nature as an anti-Semite.
This year for the first time in decades, the calendar has coincidentally packed together four holiday traditions into one symbol-laden week. The first night of Hanukkah coincided with Christmas. A day later the African-American spiritual celebration of Kwanza began. The last night of Hanukkah is joined by the celebration of New Year’s Eve. Each of these Holidays, celebrated distinctly, teaches part of the particular human condition, be it the story of the Maccabees and their heroism or the birth of Jesus, every holiday has a story or stories.
The Torah can certainly be a confusing text. One can even say that entire project of Judaism is staked on this claim. It is up to the king, the prophet, or rabbi in their generation to disentangle the many threads of the Torah's wisdom and make them intelligible to their community.
With so many deaths from London to Tel Aviv to Orlando in the last week alone, it’s important to remember that violence is never holy. In the memory of those lives lost, I thought I would include this excerpt from a chapter that I wrote about gun violence for a forthcoming volume.
Thursday, May 26, 2016: This morning I had the privilege to give the invocation at the LA County's Productivity conference. It's always inspiring to share your vision with others. Especially those who enrich the loves of so many.
This week’s Torah portion brings us to the final section of the Book of Exodus. It’s a summary of a construction project that began weeks ago. God sets out a plan to build the Mishkan, a holy tent that is meant to be a gathering place for the community and central location of the ritual cult of sacrifice.
I felt a little silly last night as we drove the hills of Encino at 10:00 PM looking for homeless individuals amongst the million-dollar mansions. Yet, we had to drive those streets as part of the annual Homeless Count coordinated by the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority (LAHSA).