“The Season of Our Freedom” in Isolation

At its most basic level, Passover celebrates the ability to leave. This is why the stirring history of the Israelites’ liberation from slavery under the ancient Egyptians is called in Hebrew, yetziat mitzrayim, the leaving from Egypt. Thus, we are all met with a deep irony this year as we celebrate Passover in a context…

To Pray

Indeed, now is a critical time to engage in prayer and it is essential to remember that this spiritual activity must increase our sense of responsibility, not diminish it. As we pray, let us seek the wisdom to act wisely, to act compassionately, to act with our best selves. Also, let us engage in honest…

“We Are Groot”

It’s a classic line from a classic scene. Towards the end of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” the team of protagonists finds themselves in a space ship hurdling through the atmosphere in what will surely be a catastrophic crash landing. In the few remaining moments before the ship collides with the surface, Groot (a sentient…

An Education from the Trees

(Prepared for Pedagogy of Partnership) Rabbi Abba was once meditating upon the characteristics of a tree, the Zohar tells us. He observed the growth of fruit, leaves and birds flying from its boughs. Suddenly he had an insight, began to cry, and declared, “if people only knew what secrets these things hinted at, they would…

A “Growth Mindset” Together

(Written for Pedagogy of Partnership Institute, Winter 2020) Growth Mindset is likely one of the most important and influential developments in education in the last 25 years. Carol Dweck, the mother of the Growth Mindset movement, together with others discovered through research that when students believed that their abilities could be developed, they were more…

Hanukkah: A Miraculous Season

Popular children’s literature is a great way to get a sense of where society is at about certain issues. For example, in two mainstream children’s books about Hanukkah, a “miracle” is described as “something amazing that makes you glad you are alive” and “something wonderful that happens that you didn’t think was possible.” What both…

A Jewish American Thanksgiving

(This article was first published in Kodesh Moment, Fall 2017) On October 3rd, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation declaring a day of Thanksgiving to take place on the coming November 26th. According to the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, “Washington declared that the necessity for such a day sprung from the Almighty’s care of…

At the Beginning, Keep the End in Mind

“How you want things to end is what you should think about at the beginning” is a decent translation of a liturgical line in Hebrew that states “sof ma’ase b’mahshava tehila”. It is a reminder that in any well crafted work, the craftsman often had the end in sight from the very beginning. If we…

The Season of Our Joy

(Article first published in de Toledo High School’s holiday publication al regel ahat, Fall 2018) It is no coincidence that Sukkot, z’man simhateinu/the season of our joy, is also the holiday that places the greatest emphasis on hosting guests through its idea of ushpizin. The connection between hosting people in our makeshift homes roofed with the season’s…

If…then: A thought for Yom Kippur

Tonight is the start of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. It is a day in which one seeks to clean the slate, begin anew, start a new chapter. But how exactly does that happen? Throughout the holiday a number of possible logical formulas emerge. Here are a few examples: If one fasts, then they…