|Dec 13, 2016
||Scientists in Synagogues
||Which of the following BEST describes your view - I view science and religion as:
Collaborative…each can be used to support each other
Independent…they refer to different aspects of reality
Conflict…and I am on the side of science
Conflict…and I am on the side of religion
Some of us will recognize the above question from a survey sent to selected members of our congregation a few months back as part of a “Scientists in Synagogues” grant that BHCBE received from the organization Sinai and Synapses. Continue reading
|Nov 21, 2016
||The great Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was a man known for his practice of complimenting and expressing gratitude even for the smallest of blessings. One day he was dining in a dingy restaurant presided over by a sour-looking owner and waitress; the woman greeted him unpleasantly and hurriedly registered his order for a blueberry muffin. When the waitress returned with the food, Reb Shlomo asked: “Are you by any chance the person who baked this muffin?” “Yes, and what about it?” replied the waitress. “I just want you to know that this is the tastiest muffin I’ve ever enjoyed,” reported the rabbi. Continue reading
|Nov 16, 2016
||Abraham and Noah
||What an incredibly difficult week it has been. Whether we were thrilled or devastated by the events of Tuesday evening, the unexpected results of our national election indicated for many of us that this country is even more deeply divided than we had understood and that the work necessary to raise the United States to its highest calling as a place of prosperity and justice for all is more urgent and overwhelming than ever. Coming off of an extraordinarily polarizing campaign season, the kind of unity necessary to move our country forward is hard to imagine. Continue reading
|Oct 26, 2016
||A Little Life
||A few months ago, I finished a novel that I had been living with for quite some time. Weighing in at 720 pages, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara was both of sufficient length and sufficient intensity – a meditation on one man’s ability (or lack thereof) to overcome serious trauma and abuse – that the story had really gotten into my soul and settled there. When I eventually turned the final page, Continue reading
|Oct 26, 2016
||Higher and Higher
||There is a wonderful story about the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Chasidism and one of the most passionate and unhurried daveners (pray-ers) that Eastern Europe had ever seen. Especially on Shabbat mornings as he recited the silent prayers of the Amidah, the Ba’al Shem Tov’s private dialogue with the Divine would extend sometimes even for hours, leaving the rest of the congregation to wait patiently for their beloved rabbi to finish. Continue reading
|Sep 28, 2016
||Disconnect. Reconnect. Retreat.
||Perhaps it was the five year old and the eighty year old playing a game of softball together on Shabbat afternoon. Or maybe it was davening outside, in the round, where services somehow just feel more prayerful with a lake in the distance. If I had to pick one favorite part of last weekend’s retreat in Oconomowoc, WI, it would have to be our rockin’ Saturday night havdalah and campfire where we belted out everything from the Beatles to Bob Dylan, Od Yavo to HaKova Sheli. Disconnect. Reconnect. Retreat. Our 2016 BHCBE Kallah really lived up to its promise. Continue reading
|Sep 16, 2016
||Clays and Congregations
||Never would I have imagined that I would write one, let alone two, Erev Shabbat messages about trap shooting! But when a good friend read of my adventures last summer and asked if I would introduce him to the fine art of firing at clay birdies, I suddenly found myself back in the saddle so to speak. This time, unfortunately, I was not vacationing at the cushy Kohler resort with its adjacent wildlife preserve and was left to scout out a venue for our outing all on my own. This, it turns out, was far more difficult than I might have expected. Continue reading
|Sep 16, 2016
||Flunking the Shofar
||Blowing the shofar nearly prevented me from graduating from rabbinical school. Or actually, it was not being able to blow shofar that almost cost me my rabbinic career if I’m being precise. Continue reading
|Sep 7, 2016
||I always feel like the first Erev Shabbat Message of the year is sort of a take on those “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essays back from grade school, but a terrific summer it has been for me! I took a road trip through Western Michigan, visited family back in Boston, and cruised the Inside Passage of Alaska with a few days in Vancouver at the end. Here in Chicago, I walked the 606, biked the Forest Preserve, and soaked in the mellow strains of James Taylor playing at Wrigley. I ate a lot of ice-cream. I hosted a lot of visitors. I had a beautiful new kitchen put in. I played a bunch of tennis. Continue reading
|Jun 15, 2016
||10 Good Rules
||Don’t judge someone by the color of their skin.
No punching in the head.
Do not be mean or stare at people with disabilities.
Feed everyone and eat together.
No bombing just for the heck of it.
Plant a tree.
Listen to God. Continue reading