The disturbing recent news about the bloody protests in the Arab world incited by a video defaming the Prophet Muhammad remind me of a story associated with Rosh Hashanah, which begins on Sunday at sundown. When Rosh Hashanah begins, the Jewish calendar will enter the year 5773. According to the tradition, exactly 5773 years ago, [...]
How do we spiritually prepare for the High Holidays during the busiest time of the year?
As part of the interfaith environmental work I am blessed to be able to do, I visit with people in congregations around the state about caring for the environment. In these conversations, I am almost always asked some variation of this question: “Where do we find hope?” Anyone working on environmental issues today must wrestle with this question of hope and purpose–and if people are unable to find a meaningful answer, they won’t be able to stay engaged for very long. Without some kind of deep wellspring, the struggle of facing the world’s troubles is too frequently, too much.
I am in the process of articulating how I can be both Christian and Jewish without being a “Jew for Jesus.” Many people hail from a smattering of religious influences and heritages. The current model of religious identification has us choose one or none. But there has to be an intellectually credible, spiritually legitimate way [...]
The Rev. Mark Wolford, a popular snake-handling, Pentecostal minister, has died. The cause of death was a rattlesnake bite. A little bit of basic background: Snake-handling churches are mostly confined to Appalachia. The practice is rooted in Jesus’ post-Resurrection pronouncement towards the end of the Gospel of Mark. Chapter 16: 17-18 reads, “And these signs [...]
On May 2, 2012, President Barack Obama declared: …by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2012 as Jewish American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to visit www.JewishHeritageMonth.gov to learn more about the heritage and contributions of Jewish Americans [...]
The period of Counting the Omer (we count 49 days from the second day of Passover to Shavuot) in which we currently find ourselves is a reminder of the road between redemption and revelation. It seems only fitting, then, that two of the most contentious days in our calendar occur in this period between Passover and Shavuot. Just as soon as we’ve put our matzah away and finished the last of the macaroons, Yom Ha Zikaron (Israeli Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha Atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) are just around the corner. For many North American Jewish communities, how to observe these days has become a topic of heated debate. We find ourselves on the same journey from freedom to revelation, but with very different ideas of how to get from the Sea to the Mountain.
After the joyful Seders and family gatherings have ended and we have entered more deeply into the Passover holiday, I often feel jarred by the Counting of the Omer. Traditional Jews mark this time before Shavuot through abstinence: foregoing weddings, cutting one’s hair and even listening to music. Instead, they devote themselves to internal work [...]
Ever been followed in TJ Maxx because you are not white? I have. Ever been told, “You aren’t Mexican, you are too light. You must be Spanish?” I have. Ever have your former in-laws complain about all the “stupid Mexicans” they encounter? I have. Ever have someone tell you, “Well, you are light-skinned, not like [...]
People think that a high school drop out, drops out because they get pregnant, or they use drugs, or they lack intelligence, or they are lazy. The fact is, that kids drop out of high school for various reasons, but mostly, I believe kids drop out of high school because they lack hope. I know [...]