Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren and "God Light"

As you may have heard by now, Barak Obama has tapped Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren to give his inaugural address. Many are up in arms about it (it's pandering to the right; Warren is against many Liberal positions; etc). The New Republic had a short blog entry about it, and one of the comments (by "iambiguous") caught my attention. Pardon the lengthy excerpt here:

Think about Rick Warren's commitment to a "purpose driven life". It is the sort of psuedo-philosophical New Age ear candy that pop culture evangelicals lap up by the millions. It's Oprah Winfry and Dr Phil all rolled up into one silly putty psychological agenda whereby you transcend the crass materialism of mindless consumption and the spiritual arridity of self-absorbed narcissism and instead latch on to something that is just so much bigger than anything you had ever hoped to imagine.

Praise Jesus!!

But there's a catch, of course. And it revolves around the manner in which you approach a "purpose" in life as either a means to an end or as an end in itself. After all, could it not be argued that both Hitler and Stalin led purpose driven lives?

That's where it all begins to break down into psychologisms that are never really more than the sum of how you add up the parts. It is just an emotional and psychological scaffolding. It is analogous to someone [like a parent] encouraging a child to "just be yourself" and then when the child decides to be something the parent does not like, the parent says, "but not that". You are encouraged to "find yourself" but when you do, it has to be congruent with the family and community and religious narrative.

Warren is obviously not as dangerous as was Jerry Falwell or as is Pat Robertson. He's no James Dobson or born again wacko. He encourages "civility" above all else. Choosing God is practically just another "lifestyle" you can commit yourself to.

But he still inculcates that servile mentality all religions embrace in the presence of their Lord. He is just more inclined to nudge you in the right direction rather than use the bully pulpit to threaten you with hell and damnation. God light as it were.

I'm not Warren's biggest fan, and I certainly am not a fan of a lot of the pop-religion/philosophy people out there (please don't get me started on The Secret). But, something about this comment was really bugging me, and I'm trying to put it into words.

Of course, there's always a certain inconsistency, or even hypocricy, with these messages of "serve a higher purpose" -- it assumes that we all agree on the right higher purpose (iambiguous is right in that Hitler was, from a certain, sick point of view, serving a higher purpose). It's probably impossible to form a cogent, serious, objective standard to differentiate between those who follow good higher purposes and those who follow evil higher purposes. In other words (not to get too philosphical), there is no rational, objective way to differentiate between good and evil. But, that doesn't mean that there isn't a distinction at all.

"He is just more inclined to nudge you in the right direction rather than use the bully pulpit to threaten you with hell and damnation" - maybe it's this sentence which bugs me most. And, maybe, it's the word "just" that really gets me. The fundamental difference between Rick Warren and Hitler is that one is trying to push us towards caring and helping and embracing, and one was trying to push us to evil and killing. And, even if I can't explain, in logical exactitude, that one is absolutely, irrefutably better than the other, I know that one is better than the other. You know it, too.

Look - one should never try to address fundamental philosophical issues in a short blog posting (and the nature and the reality of morality is probably the fundamental philosophical issue), but if we live in a world where the only discernable difference between Rick Warren and Hitler is their taste in "purpose," then we have enormous problems! Rick Warren isn't my favorite guy - his theology is flawed, his message is often simplistic and his politics are (sorry) wrong, but he should be praised, not criticized, for pushing people to help others, be kinder and try to love more. Because, if we aren't going to value that, then what exactly do we value?

[p.s. I know I keep asking for comments, but I really mean it. What do you think?]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This year, as in years past, Jewish Family Services has passed out gift-dreidels - each plastic dreidel filled with a bit of candy, and a gift idea. One might say, "a toy for a 3 year old." One might say, "school supplies for a 8 year old." You take a dreidel, then, you buy the gift, pass it on to JFS, and they deliver it to the recipient. Each gift was specifically requested by a particular kid.

My family got a dreidel this past Sunday at our school Chanukah party. We were asked to buy socks for a pre-teen girl. Socks.

You know, I've had good days and bad days this past year, but mostly good days. I don't tend to feel too down, or feel sorry for myself, because I've generally got it very good in life. But, I don't usually realize how good. Never, in my life, have I ever needed socks as a present. Never, when the time of miracles and gifts comes around, have I hoped to get something that basic. That mundane.

I hope the socks go to the person who really wanted them. I hope that next year, they'll be able to ask for something even better.

If you haven't given this year, call JFS at (813) 960-1848.

Shabbat Economics

During our study this past Shabbat, our Shabbat Task Force looked at the following passage:

Because Shabbat is often defined in terms of prohibitions against certain kinds of activities, many American Jews have come to think of Sabbath observance as a series of restrictions, a weekly sentence of self-denial. But Shabbat is not a retreat from the world or an exercise in asceticism. Making Shabbat is not a matter of refraining, but of doing…. Resting, eating and praying are not only permitted, but mandated. There are other verbs for Shabbat too; sleeping, reading, thinking, studying, talking, listening, meditating, visiting the sick, laughing, singing, welcoming guests, making love. But it is not entirely easy to choose even so pleasant and life-giving a discipline as Shabbat…. For chronically over-scheduled people, sitting still for an hour, much less an afternoon, can be a real challenge. However, these are precisely the reasons that many people view Shabbat prohibitions less as sacrifices than as opportunities to reorient an overly hectic life around the need for rest, relaxation, and time with family and close friends.
Anita Diamant, Living a Jewish Life: Jewish Traditions,
Customs and Values for Today’s Families

One of the reactions from our discussion was how much this approach differed from some of the more "traditional" approaches we had seen so far. The feeling was that, in the end, many of the texts we had seen told us that we are to observe Shabbat because, in some way or another, we have to. It's an obligation, one which comes from the outside and, at times, without any reasoning (it's worth noting that, traditionally, all Jewish activity is done, at its core, because God said so). This passage, however, gives a more concrete reason for observing Shabbat - because of how great it can be for us.

It led to a brief discussion of a kind of overlap between Economics and Shabbat. In Economics, we all understand, at least on the simplest level, the idea of a scarce resource. We only have so much money. A great deal of it, most of it, for most of us, is spent on overhead - things that are out of our immediate control. Subtract rent, car payments, utilities, food and such from our paychecks, and there isn't always a lot left over to play with. So, how we spend that money becomes a matter of great concern and attention. Without even getting into moral decisions (e.g. how much goes to charity), we all realize, on some level, that we have to decide what we want more - an iPod or a nice dinner out? New clothes, or more books? Few of us have so much money that we can spend it without thinking about whether this item is worth this much to us.

What we often fail to realize is that we have an even scarcer resource, about which we have to have the same conversation: our time. Most of our time is spent on "overhead." Add up the time I need for sleep, and other necessities, and there isn't much time left for "discretionary spending." And, so, how I choose to spend that time becomes very important.

Shabbat is a day which is meant for careful spending of our time. Why do we not go shopping on Shabbat? Whether or not I believe that "God doesn't want you to shop," I still have to ask the question, "is this the best use of these few hours, right now?" Sure, my house needs cleaning, but my kids need attention, too. Of course, there are dozens of "to-do's" floating around, but I need to rest. On Shabbat, we try to only spend time on that which deserves our time. We set it aside as a time for the holy, not the mundane. The meaningful, not the empty.

Try it out - dedicate one Shabbat, or even part of one Shabbat, for paying attention only to things which really matter to you. What would that look like? What is worth your most precious commodity: your time?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

An unwanted Shabbat

I'll pass on a confession that I made to some of the people who were at least week's Shabbat study: sometimes, I really don't want to come to synagogue on Shabbat.

I doubt it came as that great of a surprise to many, although some may have not expected me to admit to this. But, last week was one of those times when I just didn't want to be here. I had had a long week - not a bad week, just long. Lots of catch up from vacation at work. Many meetings. A cat who, feeling neglected after being alone for a week, was waking me up several times a night. By the time I drove my son home from school on Friday afternoon, the thought of the oncoming Shabbat was anything but peaceful. Rather than lead services, give a sermon, come back for more study, more prayer and then more study, I just wanted to be in bed.

But, the strangest thing happened. When I got here on Friday night, I wasn't exactly thrilled, but maybe something like "content." I started seeing people who had come for services - mostly our regulars and a guest or two. Services started, and that kind of religious auto-pilot kicks in, where I don't have to do much except for pray, until it's time to talk. Basically, without me realizing it, I had gotten into Shabbat - my energy had come back, my sense of peace had come back.

The same thing the next morning - I can't say that I jumped out of bed, dying to get to synagogue as fast as possible. But, soon enough, I was engaged in good discussions in our Torah study, and wonderful service with a group of people there just to pray and explore a bit, and then some more study. Tiring, but exciting and fun, too.

It was a good reminder for me - sometimes Shabbat is work. Sometimes, I have to force myself to "do Shabbat." But, it's not work for long, because when I'm really "doing" Shabbat, then things just work - Shabbat really does become a time of rest, rejuvenation and, most importantly, holiness.

How about you - have ever come here reluctantly, only to be surprised by truly finding Shabbat?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Leave God alone on Shabbat!

The section of our service known as the Tefillah (it's also known as the Amidah or the Shemona Esrei) follows a distinct pattern. It opens and closes with three blessings, and those blessings are meant, in large part, to act as a frame for what comes in-between. During the week, that middle part contains 13 (or, in our prayerbook, 12) requests - requests for health, wisdom, salvation, and so on. On Shabbat, we replace those requests with one prayer, a prayer which asks for nothing, but instead acknowledges the holiness of Shabbat.

The traditional reason given for this Shabbat alternative is that it's innapropriate to ask for something on Shabbat. Shabbat is supposed to be the time when we act as if the world is perfect, and we want for nothing. Making a request of God would break that illusion, so we don't do it.

While looking at these prayers this past Shabbat, before I talked about the traditional reasoning for the Shabbat Amidah, I asked if anyone there had any theories as to the reason behind the change. Someone suggested that perhaps it was because God deserved rest, too - it would be improper to distrub God's Shabbat with a request.

In a way, it's the same answer, but also very different, because it puts the focus on God, not on us. I had never heard this take on it before, and I found it wonderful - insightful, but also lovely. Of course, we can't literally ruin God's Shabbat. But, metaphorically, I think it's powerful to think of Shabbat as so sacred, that simply bugging God with our concerns is illegal.

Shabbat can offer so much to us, personally. But, when we start looking out for others as well, we might start to truly make Shabbat more than restful. We might make it holy, as well.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The horrific attacks in Mumbai happened while I was on vacation, so I didn't really hear as much about them as I usually would have, and I definitely didn't think or speak about them as much, either. But, now that I'm back, I've been trying to get my head around this atrocity.

George Zucker forwarded me an article by Dennis Prager which wonders why, exactly, would Pakistani terrorists, attacking India, make time to also attack a Chabad house? To him (and, to me) it's a sign of how deeply seated Anti-Semitism is among some - Islamicist terrorists of today, the Nazis of yesterday. And, he also takes time to mention that this has ramifications for the rest of the world, as well:
For years I have warned that great evils often begin with the murder of Jews, and therefore non-Jews who dismiss Jew-hatred (aka anti-Semitism, aka anti-Zionism), will learn too late that Jew- and Israel-haters only begin with Jews but never end with them.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments about this article.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A New Prayerbook

If you've come to Shabbat morning services recently, on a Shabbat when a new Bar/t Mitzvah isn't being called to the bimah for the first time, you've gotten a chance to experiment with a draft version of the Reform Movement's new siddur (prayerbook), Mishkan Tefillah. Mishkan Tefillah is a very different siddur from Gates of Prayer, in terms of it's layout, language, philosophy and much more.

I've heard from a few people, casually, what they think about this new siddur, but I'd love to hear more. So, tell me - what do you think about it? What do you like, and what don't you like about it?

It's not at all certain that this will become our "official" siddur, but there's a decent enough chance that it will (although there's a lot of time and process between here and there!), so I'd like to start hearing opinions now. So - what do you think?

Chanukah Lights and Holiness

I'm just back from a week of vacation (happy belated Thanksgiving to all), so I apologize for a week of non-posting. While I'm trying to think of something interesting to say myself, check out this short, but lovely, posting from one of my teachers, Joel Hoffman about holiness and the chanukah lights.

Hard to believe, but Chanukah is only 2 1/2 weeks away!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Good Enough

In an essay entitled Thinking Shabbat, Rabbi Larry Kushner makes an interesting observation. Shabbat is created when God rests on the 7th day - that rest is like the sense of relief that we all get when we complete a big project. We let out a sigh, collapse on our couch and feel good about what we accomplished, right?

But, what was the last stage of creation, the last thing that God did before resting? It was the creation of human beings. That makes sense, right? I mean, we are the pinnacle of creation. Not so fast, says Kushner:
[People] are not perfect. We are the unstable element, the restless ones. Too hungry for our own good, covetous, oversexed, neurotic, and conflicted. But we are part of creation, so therefore, on account of us, creation is incomplete, unstable, and imperfect.

In theory, God should be anything but relaxed. After all, God just created the very thing guaranteed to muck up this wonderful world that was just created, right? God should be frantically planning the next step - how to fix what was just broken. But, no. God, instead, rests. Because, creation may not be perfect. But, creation is done.

So, relax - go easy on yourself. The week you just finished wasn't perfect? You didn't accomplish everything you wanted to? Something you did wasn't quite up to snuff? Take a hint from God. Look at what you did, declare it to be "very good," and have a rest. Enjoy Shabbat. You've earned it.

Just like God did.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shabbat and God

An ancient Midrash (Mechilta, Yitro, Ba-hodesh, 8) teaches that a person who violates Shabbat is a person who denies God's existence. That made good sense in the ancient world, and even now, for those with an Orthodox worldview: God made the world and commanded us to observe Shabbat. Not observing Shabbat, then, is a slap in the face to God. Imagine that I built you a house, and said that I'd let you live in it for free, so long as you kept one bedroom set aside for me to use when I come to visit. Then, when I visit, I see that you've converted it into a home office - how incredibly rude! The only reason that we would every treat God this way, the thinking goes, is if we don't believe that God really created the world. It's denying God's dominion over, and ownership of, the world. That's why Shabbat violation is such a major transgression in traditional Judaism.

Of course, as liberal Jews, our understanding of God and the world is very different. Most of us don't believe that God literally created the world, as it says in the Torah. And so, it doesn't necessarily follow, with the same directness, that violating Shabbat is denying God.

So, given that, the question arises: what does it mean, as a modern, Reform Jew, to say that "violating Shabbat is denying God's existance"? What does it mean to violate (or observe) Shabbat and, more importantly, how does that tie in so directly with God's reality? I don't know that the question has an answer, but I suspect that trying to answer it will tell us a lot about what it means to be a Reform believer, and a Reform Shabbat observer.

Burying Books

The Hillel school is preparing to bury a number of books - there's a long tradition of burial for worn out sifrei kodesh (holy books), since we aren't supposed to throw out any book with God's name in it. I had a chance to meet with some of the students to talk about putting together a ceremony for the burial, and in preparing, I came across an interesting idea.

Jeffrey Spitzer makes a link between the Jewish tradition of treating our books with respect and our tradition of conflating the name of the book with the name of the author. It's very common in Judaism for a author to start to be referred to simply by the name of his (or her) book. So, the author of Arba'ah Turim becomes known as Ba'al Turim (the owner of Turim), and the writer of Sefat Emet becomes known simply as Sefat Emet. It's as if the author and the work become, almost literally, one and the same.

Books in Judaism are more than just books - they become the living embodiment of the content. Jews have always seen books as something almost alive - to us, reading a book is like reading the mind of the author (which is why reading Torah is such a holy act - when you think about who wrote that!).

Given that, a book burial becomes more than just a polite way to show respect and reverence for books. It becomes, instead, the natural outcome of this book-view. What I'm trying to say is that we don't bury books because it's respectful; we bury books because, symbolically, they're people. We would no more throw out a sacred book than we would dispose of a loved one!

It's an interesting connection - it made a practice I already appreciated even more meaningful, and quite touching.

I asked the kids - if you were going to become a book, what would the title be. Any one reading this care to offer a title for their book?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why don't more people observe Shabbat

So, we've got our Shabbat Task Force going, and I gave a sermon on Rosh Hashana about Shabbat, and tomorrow night we start one of two classes this year about Shabbat. Throw in this blog and regular mention in the Bulletin, and it's pretty clear that we're trying really hard to make Shabbat "better" here at Beth Am (I went with the quotes around "better" because what it means for Shabbat to be better is a complex question, which I'm going to ignore, for now). But, the question which hasn't been talked about a lot is: why do we need to do this? Why isn't it already happening?

I can't think of a time when I've described Shabbat (to an adult) and they didn't find it, at least in part, resonating with them. Granted, I meet a skewed poplulation, but who doesn't think that more time for trancendance, spirituality and deep, renewing rest are good things? If that's so, why aren't people flocking to synagogue for Shabbat? Why does this require a Task Force, and a blog, and...

One reason, which is certainly valid, at least in part, is that we don't do Shabbat well - that we (not just Beth Am, but synagogues in general) don't offer a Shabbat which fulfills the promise. That's what the Task Force is about, I guess - how can we make the actual Shabbat here at CBA better match our idealized Shabbat. But, another opinion entirely comes from Rabbi Jacob Neusner, a well-known, and astoundingly prolific, thinker, author and teacher. He believes that the real problem is that our society is so out of sync with the values inherent in Shabbat that we resist Shabbat. We say we want it, but when given the chance, we rebel, because it's so different from what we otherwise know in life. Check out the full article - it's not very long - and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sanctuaries and Seats

I just submitted a Bulletin article talking about the seating arrangement in the Sanctuary. As many/most of you know, we've been experimenting with a semi-circular arrangement of chairs, rather than using the bimah, whenever possible. The article talks about why we do this - about the philosophy and theology which underlies our seating arrangement.

But, I thought that this blog would be a good way for anyone who wants to to offer an opinion of their own. Do you like the "new" arrangement, or do you prefer the "regular" version? And, more importantly - why? What do you or don't you like about it?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A last look at Noah

The great commentator Rashi makes a comment about the story of Noah which never made sense to me until our Torah study this past Shabbat. The Torah isn't so clear about what the great sin of the world was - what did the people of Noah's generation do to deserve being wiped out? In explaining a couple of the words that the text uses, Rashi suggests that the three sins were theft, idolatry and sexual immorality.

Doesn't something seem disproportionate here? Certainly, those things are bad, but when I hear that an entire generation receives a death-sentence, I expect to see some more serious crimes - death, rape and the like. Why are these the crimes, according to Rashi.

What we discovered together in Torah study was that, to unlock that mystery, you have to look earlier in Rashi's commentary. When describing Noah, the Torah says that he was "righteous in his generation." Why, Rashi asks, do we need to say "in his generation?" Perhaps, he says, it is to teach us that Noah was only righteous when compared to others around him - he was being graded on the curve. Or, perhaps it means that, even surrounded by sinners, Noah managed to stay good. Imagine how much better he could have been, had he lived in a virtuous generation!

So, was Noah only good compared to the shleppers around him, or was he a truly good person, brought down a bit by a bad neighborhood? It's not clear - but it's also not the most important question. The real question is: what happens if we ask that question about ourselves?

Look at Rashi's list of sins - theft, sexual immorality, and idolatry. Would anyone argue that these sins aren't around, in abundance, in our own day and age? Not to be too fire-and-brimstone about it, but aren't we, according to Rashi, living in an age not unlike Noah's? And, if so, if we think of ourselves as good people, then don't we have to ask the question: are we really good, or are we just good in comparison? Could we be proud of who we are, if we aren't graded on the curve?

The important thing is not to answer the question - not to get defensive, or depressed, or egotistical. Rather, the idea is to get humble. To acknowledge that it's not clear, to any of us, how good we "really" are. That, even the most righteous among us have to admit that, were we to be compared to a true tzaddik - a truly righteous person - we might not stack up so well. Most of us are good people, and of that we should be proud. But, that pride should be tempered by knowing that, in all probability, we still have plenty of potential that we leave unfufilled.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal) is an organization dedicated to working with synagogues to find new ways to fulfill our visions as congregations. One of their (most successful) initiatives is called Synaplex - the name is cross between "Synagogue" and "Multiplex."

The idea is simple - on Shabbat, offer a wide range of activities. Prayer is certainly part the day, but, alternative activities can be, too. Everything from the expected (Torah study) to the experimental (Jewish meditation) to some radically "out of the box" idea is possible. Some synagogues do this weekly, some dedicate an occasional (often monthly) Shabbat to be their "Synaplex Shabbat." The thinking goes that one-size doesn't fit all, especially in religion. By offering a wide range of activities, it allows a community to come together on Shabbat, but still gives room for people to observe Shabbat in a way which best suits them.

Some synagogues have a fully communal component (e.g. everyone prays - perhaps in a shortened service) before other activities begin. Some allow for multiple activities to be going on throughout the day. But, all of the Synaplex congregations are dedicated to finding new expressions for Shabbat, and new ways to draw members in the synagogue.

There's a lot more details at their website, and I encourage you to check it out. But, based on what you read there, or what I've already told you, I'd love to hear your thoughts: do you like this idea? Do you think it could work here at CBA? Do you have any reservations about it?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shopping on Shabbat

On one of my Rabbinic e-lists, I recently read a post from a colleague with an interesting problem. His Social Committee wants to have a New York City Shopping Day (bus trip into the city, followed by a day primarily focused on shopping), and because of logistics, they insist that it be on Shabbat.

The Rabbi was writing to ask us how we would respond to that. I wrote a response, but I'm interested to hear what all of you think, too. I'll post my response here in a little bit, but I wanted to wait to give others a chance, first.

So - comment away. If you were that Rabbi, what would you do?

Friday, October 24, 2008

And the Task Force is off...

I really need to get in the swing of things with blogging - I keep waiting to have enough time to write a good entry, but I never seem to have the time I need! I think that the trick is to just do it - no more excuses!

Anyway, our Task Force had our first Shabbat together last week, and it was (to me, and to others I heard from) a great start. Services were lovely, and the learning/discussion afterwards was top-notch.

As a Rabbi, I've studied Shabbat more than a little, and I'm pretty familiar with the "core" texts about Shabbat, especially the ones which come from the Torah. But, this time, we tried to look at those texts in-and-of-themselves - without seeing them through the lens of 2000 years of Rabbinic interpretation. It was a mini-revelation, to be honest.

The Shabbat that our ancestors lived was very different from ours - the Torah focusses almost exclusively on the "thou shall nots" of Shabbat, and talks very little, if at all, about what to do. Nothing about prayer, nothing about spirituality, nothing about reflection, or time for ourselves. Just restrictions on our actions.

I wonder what it was like in practice. Did our ancestors see Shabbat as a restrictive, even unpleasant day? One which they had to observe, but didn't like to? Or, was it more peaceful and pastoral? Did they like the chance to sit in or near their homes, doing nothing of substance, or did they find it boring?

Maybe more importantly, how would we feel about that? Would we like an occasional day (as often as once a week?) when we are to do nothing but just be? Hang out, relax, chat, eat a bit. No TV, no phones, no work, no travel. I have to admit - with two young kids, that kind of day sounds like heaven to me. Although, I'm not 100% sure I could handle it weekly, just like that. How does it sound to you?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Success without Numbers

We often equate the "success" of an event with the number of people who show up - I'm certainly guilty of this myself. But, a few recent Shabbat experiences have reminded me that, even without a large turnout, Shabbat services (as well as plenty of other events) can be a wonderful, successful experience. Let me tell you about one of them.

Recently, we had a 9:00 Torah Study Shabbat. At the study, we only had 4 people show up, which was clearly fewer than I'd want! But, we had a good laugh about the ratio of food to people, loaded our plates up with bagels and lox, chatted warmly for a bit, and then got down to studying that week's portion.

And, I have to tell you, the study was lovely - reading about Moses' last days, we had a wide-ranging discussion about leadership, old-age, passing the torch and so much more. It was intellectually stimulating, as well as emotionally touching (I'm speaking for myself, but I think that others there would agree). I remember thinking "this is what Torah study should be - making the text come alive as something relevant and moving for us."

We had a few more people show up for the service at 10:30, and the weather was so nice that we grabbed some folding chairs and headed over to the lawn for services. We made a circle under the shade of the big tree by the Hillel library, and just prayed - no formality, very little "choreography." Just a group of people working their way through the siddur with sincerity, a vague ability to stay in tune and a great deal of happiness.

Don't get me wrong - I love big crowds, and when I think we're going to get one, I care very much about making sure that the arrangements are all right, and everything goes smoothly. But, there is something to be said for a group of people, coming together on a Saturday morning, to do their best to create a sense of kedusha (holiness) among them. I'm still a little sad that more people weren't there to share the experience, but I know that there will be many such Shabbatot in our future. In the mean time, I'm thankful for the one we had.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rabbi Eric Yoffie on Shabbat

In December, at the URJ Biennial, Rabbi Eric Yoffie spoke passionately about Shabbat, and about the need to reinvigorate Shabbat services in our Reform congregations. Here is what he said. It's a bit long, but well worth reading.

I'd love to hear any comments anyone may have about what Rabbi Yoffie says.

Rabbi Rosenberg