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Awakenings (Tu b’Shevat / Pre-Spring Edition)

By definition, awakening happens before we’re ready, and exactly on time. It’s Tu b’Shevat this weekend (Sunday evening, February 5), so we’re exactly on time. * Happy February! Our northern hemisphere’s darkest quarter of the year is history. We’re about to get a sharp cold snap, but the light is returning. Have you noticed that 5:00pm… Continue reading Awakenings (Tu b’Shevat / Pre-Spring Edition)

Other places · The Wisdom Daily

Why This Rabbi is Learning Arabic (And Why All Rabbis Should)

Why is this rabbi learning Arabic?  Read on. When the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York honored me with an invitation to join its recent multi-faith and multi-racial community leadership study trip to Israel, our goals quickly became clear. In addition to strengthening relationships among public officials, nonprofit directors and spiritual leaders, the JCRC trip aimed… Continue reading Why This Rabbi is Learning Arabic (And Why All Rabbis Should)

Judicial · Other places

What Would Thurgood Do?

Today I was privileged to join colleagues of the bar, bench, pulpit and social justice community to dedicate a monument to the life and legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall. Especially in this era of faction and fissure, I was grateful that Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, Jews and Gentiles – truly a sea of… Continue reading What Would Thurgood Do?

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“Show Me Your Way:” the Trans Microcosm of Spiritual Allyship

“Andy” sent a spiritual autobiography of four pages, a shimmeringly honest reflection on Andy’s emotional and spiritual life; birth family and chosen family, loves and losses, belief and disbelief, hope and yearning. Its treatment of gender identity spanned 10 pivotal words: “I’m trans of [gender] experience and completed transition some years ago.” I sat in… Continue reading “Show Me Your Way:” the Trans Microcosm of Spiritual Allyship

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For National Havdalah of Reconciliation

For video of this teaching, see the videos page. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." If something in these familiar words felt missing, it's because Congress amended this original version of the… Continue reading For National Havdalah of Reconciliation

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Statement of Prayer and Solidarity: Black Lives Matter

Statement of Prayer and Solidarity Rabbi David Evan Markus Temple Beth El of City Island June 6, 2020 Dear friends, let us pray. Holy One of Blessing: Today is the Jewish Sabbath, a day of rest to restore our souls – our neshamot, from the Hebrew word for breath. But such a Sabbath rest is… Continue reading Statement of Prayer and Solidarity: Black Lives Matter

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Jewish Ethics Demands Independent Path Forward

Jewish clergy, seminaries, day schools and other nonprofits must not govern their own ethics systems. Most lack sufficient expertise and independence to earn and keep public trust in their capacity to self-regulate. This conclusion comes hard to me. As a pulpit rabbi with a dual career in law and governance — and as past general… Continue reading Jewish Ethics Demands Independent Path Forward

Academy for Jewish Religion · Other places

Genesis (En)Gendered: An Angelic View from Eden’s Way 

This momentous #metoo #ibelieveyou moment urges us to see old stories with new eyes. Reading sacred texts with ever renewing eyes is one of many ways that theology teaches us how to see and think – to reach beyond ourselves, to not become calcified and thus brittle, to strengthen our capacity to hold multiplicity and nuance without falling into… Continue reading Genesis (En)Gendered: An Angelic View from Eden’s Way 

Bayit · Other places

Connecting to the Tree of Life

By Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and Rabbi David Markus Originally published as part of the Auburn Voices series at Auburn Seminary. Tu b’Shevat, the “New Year of the Trees,” is coming at the next full moon, the night of January 30. We honor Tu b’Shevat to renew our spirits and prepare ourselves, and the world, for spring’s… Continue reading Connecting to the Tree of Life

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Passing the Flame Forward: A Letter from Rachel and David

In early 2015 it was announced that we would serve as the next co-chairs of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.  Today we announce that we are stepping down. Our term will end in July. When we began, we saw four key goals.  First, to help steward ALEPH through the complex aftermath of the death of… Continue reading Passing the Flame Forward: A Letter from Rachel and David

Other places · The Wisdom Daily

The value of acknowledging misperceptions

Here’s a true story about false impressions – and the wisdom (and holy risk) of voicing them aloud. In my day job, I preside in hundreds of judicial proceedings. I take seriously a judge’s ethical duty to avoid partisan politics, so that all can feel that they get a fair shake. For this reason, I don’t… Continue reading The value of acknowledging misperceptions

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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

DVAR TORAH Pardes Hannah Ann Arbor, Michigan November 12, 2016 Shabbat shalom.  Rabbi Rachel and I are delighted to be with you as visiting family from ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.  I've wanted to visit Pardes Hannah since I became Reb Elliot's student back in the year 1845 – really just seven years ago – but I… Continue reading Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

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Ask the Rabbi: Are We Commanded to Vote?

Every Jew has a duty to vote in the democratic elections in one’s nation of citizenship. Jewish law mandates the creation of civil government (Avot 3:2, Avodah Zara 4a) and obliges all who benefit from public services to help provide them (Bava Batra 7b, Bava Metzia 108a). Voting follows from this Jewish communitarian value against… Continue reading Ask the Rabbi: Are We Commanded to Vote?