Denominational Ins and Outs: the New Mishkan

Jewish life is turned around – so suggests this week’s Torah portion (Terumah) about the first Mishkan(ritual focus of cultic and religious life) in the desert. This ancient narrative offers profound reflections on the denominational ins and… Continue reading

Why a rabbi? Five aspirations for rabbinic life

On January 11, 2015, I received rabbinic smicha (ordination) from ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Six years of academic study, spiritual formation, pulpit experience and chaplaincy service culminated in a moment of transformation… Continue reading

On the halachic obligation to vote

Summary: Every Jew has a duty to vote in the democratic elections in one’s nation of citizenship.  Jewish law mandates the creation of civil government (Avot 3:2, Avodah Zara 4a), and obliges all… Continue reading

Moses the rookie chaplain and the burning bush

My Saturday morning teaching for ordination January 10, 2015 • 19 Tevet 5775 Erev Rav David Evan Markus B’rshut rabbotai (with the permission of my teachers), and in the merit of all of… Continue reading

Bah Humbug and Amazing Grace: Christmas for Jews

“Merry Christmas,” we’ve heard for weeks. For Jews living in predominantly Christian societies, Christmas evokes responses ranging from joy to alienation. Some Jews encounter Christmas as a civic winter holiday for all, when grace and good… Continue reading

Pilgrim’s Progress: Thanksgiving, Plymouth Rock and the House of God

Thanksgiving beckons loved ones together to count blessings and honor journeys toward freedom and plenty. Whether our ancestors traveled to these shores from afar or already resided here, our forebears began new lives somewhere else.… Continue reading

The Jewish Duty to Vote

Election Day in the U.S. is coming. How will being Jewish shape your choice whether to vote? This November, Americans will elect a new 435-member House of Representatives, a third of the Senate, 36… Continue reading

Yom Kippur’s Circle Dance

Yom Kippur conjures solemnity and foreboding for many Jews. Ritual fasting, abstinence, penitence, and rehearsing for death evolved as core Yom Kippur tradition to rivet and purify the soul. Hidden from most moderns,… Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah 5775/2014: The Light of Belonging

Barcheinu Avinu kulanu k’echad; Kulanu k’echad b’or panecha. Bless us all together, Creator, Protector; Bless us all forever with radiance and grace. Barcheinu Avinu (bless us, our Creator and Protector) kulanu (all of… Continue reading

God at the Speed of Life

Most moderns live life on the run. You probably don’t need any reminder, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average American claims just 17 minutes per day to relax and… Continue reading