Looking for Love in All the Rough Places

A D’var Torah for Parashat Va’ethanan By Rabbi David Markus It’s fitting that the “Jewish greatest hits” of Parashat Va’ethanan come immediately after Tisha b’Av. After our spiritual calendar’s lowest day, Torah promises that anyone who… Continue reading

Lighting Us Up: Theology, Pluralism and Becoming the Menorah

A D’var Torah for Parashat Beha’alotekha by Rabbi David Markus What does God need of our spirituality, what do we need of it, and how do we know? These questions cast long theological… Continue reading

Yom Kippur Asks “Answers” – Not Just “Afflictions”

Yom Kippur Asks “Answers” – Not Just “Afflictions” A D’var Torah for Parashat Acharei Mot By Rabbi David Markus This week’s parashah (Acharei Mot) brings Torah’s first mention of Yom Kippur (#sorry), so each year… Continue reading

Why This Firstborn Will Go Silent Before Passover: The Social Justice Ta’anit Dibbur

Among Passover’s many customs, the fast of the firstborn (ta’anit bechorot) fell into disuse.  This ritual fast, commemorating Egypt’s victims of the Tenth Plague’s death of the firstborn, finds little traction among modern liberal Jews.  Even… Continue reading

Controlling the High Price of Judaism (and Guilt)

Controlling the High Price of Judaism (and Guilt) A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayikra By Rabbi David Markus The Jewish value of tzedakah underscores that to “be Jewish” is partly to “do Jewish,” and to “do… Continue reading

Jewish Ethics Demands Independent Path Forward

Jewish clergy, seminaries, day schools and other nonprofits must not govern their own ethics systems. Most lack sufficient expertise and independence to earn and keep public trust in their capacity to self-regulate. This… Continue reading

Seeing the Voices: The Call of Teaching in Spiritual Formation

ACADEMY FOR JEWISH RELIGION Faculty Meeting Dvar Torah January 24, 2019 Good morning everyone.  I’m delighted to join the AJR family.  Thank you to Ora for the invitation to teach, and to Jeff… Continue reading

Answering With Great Joy

It’s an occupational hazard. We clergy so delight in bringing Torah to life and liturgy to life that we might unashamedly “geek out” – especially when we do both at the same time. When… Continue reading

What Men In Jail Can Teach Us About Joy

Actually, it didn’t happen in a jail, which typically houses shorter-term detentions.  It happened in Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison operated by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, where… Continue reading

Power Tools For Spiritual Building

Part of a yearlong series on Torah wisdom about building and builders. The first weeks of Bayit’s Builder’s Blog harvested keystone principles about building the Jewish future – from primordial foundations of building, to… Continue reading