Tefillah Tuesday: Personal Prayer in the Public Space

Good prayer is an interior experience, meditatively sinking into heart, mind, and soul. All religions prize this inwardness, through various traditions of hermitage and retreat. In Judaism, one word for spirituality is פנימיות, or “interiority.” A term for meditation is התבודדות, or “aloneness.” So why don’t Jews pray alone? Why do we prize gathering in… Read more »

Tefillah Tuesday: The Physical Graffiti of Tefillin

Heschel famously summed up the difference between the spiritual life of modern, Westernized Jews and their pre-modern (whenever and wherever they lived) forebears: “To Kabbalah and Hasidism the primary problem was how to pray; to the modern movements, the primary problem was what to say.” [Quest for God, 83]. In Heschel’s view, we shouldn’t worry… Read more »

Multiple Freedoms

Passover is חג החרות, the Holiday of Freedom, the grand tale of ancient Jewish suffering followed by divine and prophetic liberation. I am sure that many of our Sedarim, over the years, have also addressed modern enslavement and liberation, including readings or documents from the ultimate Jewish catastrophe [שואה], as well as the American Egypt… Read more »

Separation Fence

Can we not admit that we must fight terrorists, and must not lose our reverence for our enemies’ human lives? Can we defend ourselves, love our people and love our homeland without lurching into dehumanizing our neighbors? Can only one people thrive in this little land?

The difficult things I saw complicated but did not diminish my joy in Israel.

Open My Heart

When Shabbat ends, I will set out on my favorite earthly journey, represented by six of the best letters in our alphabet: JFK-TLV. New York to Israel. (Hope I get a window seat.) This trip will be like many of my others, yet different from them all. It will be similar, including Shabbat in the… Read more »