Tag Archives: Tikkun Olam

Marriage Equality Law Suit Filed April 28, 2014

[Here is my statement from yesterday’s Press Conference announcing the filing of the law suit filed by clergy, religious denominations, and couples, seeking same-sex marriage on First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, grounds]

Our traditions teach: “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.”

I am honored and blessed to stand here today on the right side of history.

As a rabbi of both the Reform and Reconstructionist Jewish movements, supporters of equal rights and marriage for same-sex couples for decades, I am humbled to be in the company of this noble community of plaintiffs and lawyers striving for justice and equal rights for all Americans.

We stand here today as representatives of mainstream religious organizations seeking to help couples create and maintain healthy and principled families.

Judaism calls upon me as a rabbi, and the Jews as a people, to provide communities that support strong families, communities in which all those who belong may celebrate marriage.

Americans trust our religious communities to decide how best to create a wedding ritual and to determine who in our communities receives the blessing of marriage.

Please support this lawsuit that will bring fairness back to our State of North Carolina, and allow all of us to create communities of high principles and moral character; communities of diverse people from all walks of life; communities that celebrate the sanctity of couples in love, through marriages available to same sex couples and heterosexual couples alike.


Article from NY Times:


Closing Prayer at the Medicaid Expansion Press Conference

Our fates rely on each of us caring for our selves and our whole community.

Every person is touched by the fate of everyone else,

and so we must pursue compassion for all.

A Jewish tradition imagines each and every one of us as a reflection of God.

We are all unique echoes of the infinite.

We must aim to engage with every person as we would with God.

I must try to revere God who I find in everyone I talk to.

We must have compassion for each other as reflections of the most sacred.

I must care for each person because we are all holy sparks.

Let the embers of God that live in all of us inspire every North Carolinian to come together.

Let us care for the sacred warmth in each of our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies.

Let us act out of our passion for a creation that relies on us as stewards.

Let us be moved by the strength of our combined spirits to care better for each other, and let us say, Amein.

Expand Medicaid crop

Day 24 of the Omer – Self in Communal Balance

Tiferet in Netzach – balanced harmony in the enduring single self.

Thinking of our single self at the close of a week when we confront again and again our communal needs to come together – not so easy.

To find the balance between our own needs and those of our community requires a sense of the ideal harmony we aim and strive for.

As this week closes we take a breath and try to find our own place in the balance between all things, all while working to raise our eyes to the image of a better future.

Breathing, counting, coping – all the best everyone.

bombing witness

Realistic Theology

Torah-Inspired, Reflection of The Day:

Today we look at B’chukotai, Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34 – two chapters, almost, with the first focused on the outcomes of following or not following God’s commandments, and the second on the rules about vows, concluding with the last verse of Leviticus:

These are the commandments that Adonai commanded Moses for the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

As rationalists, we often bristle at the idea that following commandments would result in blessings and not following them would result in curses. Reward and punishment theology seems unrealistic at best, we even have a Biblical book arguing against it entirely – the Book of Job.

So how do we learn from these texts?

When we follow reasonable practices that help us get along with each other better, when we treat the planet better, we will likely find our lives turn out better. Following a social contract creates better society. Noticing that certain practices hurt the environment, and in turn our livelihoods and fates, and then changing our behavior, leads us to a better life for all.

Our theology should support demands for improved behavior, without threatening supernatural rewards and punishments.

Help each other leave judgment behind

Torah-Inspired, Days of Awe Reflection of The Day…

Today we look at Tazree-ah, Leviticus 12:1 – 13:59 – skin eruptions, ritual impurity, and how the ancient priest diagnosed these things.

We should remember that the Torah does not serve as a medical manual, even for its ancient time. Rather, we recognize that the Torah offers us advice for society, not for biology.

The social advice here comes from creating standards of inclusion and exclusion. People in difficulty, especially visible difficulty, often face rejection from society. When we establish rules that allow us to classify these difficulties by an authority figure, we can actually remove the stigma because we normalize the issue.

Let us learn at this time of reflection to go beyond our initial reactions to people with struggles. The strength of any social group can be measured by how well we aid those in need of help. Everyone gets sick, everyone faces hardship – let us not allow others’ difficulties to color our reactions to them. Let us reach out to each other in our times of need.