Conservative Judaism is a legacy brand that thrived in the 20th-century through world-renowned scholarship, bustling suburban synagogues, high-quality educational brands, and a religious message that resonated with Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. While no one can claim to predict the future, Conservative Judaism cannot thrive by re-litigating the debates of the past, but by trusting that we can create a brighter future together. This week, The Jewish Week ran a piece I wrote about the need for Conservative Jews to dare together, which you can read by clicking on this link.
Every Rosh HaShanah, we have the opportunity to see things for the first time and embrace the power of change. And if each of us can change, then so can our institutions. The future is happening to Judaism, and it is our obligation to take hold of the emerging future and help Jewish communities thrive within it. On Thursday, the Atlanta Jewish Times published a piece that I wrote about Rosh HaShanah and overcoming the paralysis of fear in Jewish life. You can read the article by clicking on link.
While Tisha B’Av is a day on the Jewish calendar that commemorates major moments of destruction and despair, our rabbis see the events of Tisha B’Av as the result of little things and big things that the Jewish people got wrong. All of our communities worry about resolving major issues in the present and the future, yet oftentimes it is the minor issues that lead to dysfunction and strife. Today, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on how Tisha B’Av teaches us the consequences of getting the little things wrong. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
Many Jewish organizations celebrate Shavuot under the shadow of budget shortfalls, staffing cuts, and anxiety about the future. However, the bikkurim ritual on Shavuot challenges us to show constant appreciation for the unglamorous, daily work required to maintain a congregation. On Sunday, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on how Shavuot demands that we never treat people as expendable in our synagogues. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
Martin Seligman’s work on optimism and positive psychology plays a tremendous role in my philosophy as a rabbi, educator, and leadership trainer. Today, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article I wrote on how Seligman’s concepts of pessimism and “learned helplessness” affect the ability of synagogues to do powerful work in transformative times. You can read the article by clicking on this link.
Commentators love to criticize the question of the Wicked Child. However, the Wicked Child’s question in the Haggadah teaches us a powerful lesson about the impact of asking difficult questions, and the importance of leaders having the courage to bring an important but uncomfortable question to the table. On Monday, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on how Pesah teaches us that we need to listen to the question of the Wicked Child. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
I love listening to podcasts, and work my way through episodes of the Bill Simmons Podcast, the Weeds, Planet Money and countless others while I’m in the car, on the subway, or at the gym. Last month, I was interviewed by Michelle Malkin on her brand new podcast It’s Who You Know! about the future of synagogues. You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link.
God’s name does not appear in Megillat Esther, and this omission offers a powerful lesson about the necessity of taking ownership over whether or not we will achieve God’s mission for the Jewish people. On Sunday, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on how Purim teaches us that God will not save the synagogue; only we can. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
I am not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV, but that does not stop me from loving everything that Dr. Atul Gawande writes about medicine. In particular, I love Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto, which captures how people can “get the stupid stuff right” in a world of increasing complications and complexity. Today, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article I wrote about why synagogues need their own “Checklist Manifesto,” which you can read by clicking on this link.
Sacred institutions do sacred work, yet oftentimes the hustle and bustle of leading a synagogue or Jewish organization keeps us from remembering that our institutions are far more than the sum of all the things that we need to manage. Yesterday, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on Tu B’Shevat and naming the power of our sacred work, which you can read by clicking on this link.