“These are the times that are called holy” Leviticus 23:2
There was an economic survey back in the 1970s that asked a series of questions that can be boiled down to the inquiry, “are you happy?” The economists behind the survey wanted to know-- in a long period of economic growth where incomes were rising and debts falling-- did having more money in your pocket made you happier. Questionnaires of this sort have been repeated many times. The results of the survey were...
This past week, Rabbi Hoffman, Cantor Baron and I led a very large delegation to Washington DC for the annual AIPAC Policy Conference. With 18,000 delegates in attendance from over 50 countries around the world, it was the largest-ever gathering of Israel supporters in history. For three days, we learned together and celebrated Israel together.
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.