The Jewish people is here today because those who came before us were audacious. By that I mean courageous, fearless, and bold. Genesis teaches us to practice audacious hospitality. On a blisteringly hot day, Abraham runs after three desert wanderers, insisting they come inside for nourishment. What makes his act so memorable is not waiting […]Read more
Recently, I attended the funeral of Mark Levy, z”l, in Los Angeles and had the honor of celebrating his life. Mark and his wife, Peachy, have been deeply committed to the future of the Jewish people for decades. Through their incredible leadership, they have distinguished themselves as two of the Reform Movement’s most generous donors. […]Read more
As I write this, I’m on a literal and figurative high – literal because I’m writing to you from a flight back to New York from Dallas, where I had the privilege of attending and addressing the BBYO International Convention. Wait a minute, you’re thinking, Why is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism going to a BBYO convention? Isn’t BBYO the rival of NFTY, the Reform youth movement?
I’m here to tell you – and you can quote me on it – that BBYO is not our rival. They are our partner.Read more
Like many of you, I have been disturbed by the American Studies Association’s (ASA) vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions. As outraged as I am about the ASA’s decision, I am gratified by the many strong and clear reactions from the academic community. As of today there are 33 U.S. universities that have made public […]Read more
Last week, the Pew Center for Research released a new study of American Jews that is still reverberating throughout the Jewish world and beyond. But so much of the analysis has been locked into binary categories: Who won and who lost? Is the glass half full or half empty? Are Jews a religion or a […]Read more
Ethan Kadish is a 13-year-old boy in great need of the Reform Jewish community’s help. On June 29, 2013, the afternoon peace of Shabbat at URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) in Zionsville, IN, was shattered by a lightning strike that left three campers unresponsive on the athletic field. Thanks to the skill, courage, and […]Read more
Summers in New York City are blisteringly hot. To escape, some people head to the Jersey Shore or to other beaches to cool off; others head to the mountains to get away from the humidity. Me? This July, I headed to the Deep South – Tennessee and Mississippi, to be exact – and although I […]Read more
Is Judaism the problem or the solution to women’s equality? Try telling agunot, women who are chained to their husbands unable to obtain a get, a religious divorce, that they are equal to men. Overarching Jewish values like b’tzelem Elohim — that all people are created in the image of God — may teach equality, […]Read more
For many, summer is a season of travel and that’s certainly true for me right now. Last week I was in Chicago, where I had the pleasure of meeting with a number of my rabbinic colleagues, synagogue professionals, and lay leaders in congregations throughout the city. This past week I was in Baltimore, where similar […]Read more
Mr. Mayor, I have no illusions that my eloquent letter of invitation is what brought you here this morning. First, it helps to know someone at City Hall. My wife and I are blessed to know and love your First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris, who graces us here today and has contributed so much to your administration, this city, and our family.
But I suspect that a significant reason the mayor is here this morning is because of his long and close collaboration with my wife, Susan Freedman, to bring exhilarating public art to NYC, like the “NYC Waterfalls” and this year’s “Discovering Columbus.” Mayor Bloomberg has been an extraordinary supporter of the arts, especially the public kind that all New Yorkers and visitors can experience.Read more
At the RAC’s recent Consultation on Conscience, I met an incredible faith leader, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby. Last week, I joined Sister Simone and others for the kick-off of Nuns on the Bus, a coast-to-coast immigration reform campaign that will land them in San Francisco after […]Read more
For too much of Jewish history Jewish women did not count. Consider the opening of the Book of Exodus: “Eleh sh’mot b’nai Yisrael – These are the names of the children of Israel.” (Exodus 1:1) The text then goes on to name only the male children of Israel: Reuben, Simeon and Judah… but there is no […]Read more
I felt pride as an American and as a Jew in listening to President Obama’s remarkable speech to the Israeli people today. It was an historic speech, perhaps the most important in recent memory by an American president. The powerful recognition of Israel’s right to exist was important, as well his eloquent and heartfelt recognition […]Read more