Longform


"Birah Doleket"

Monday night, I saw Ani DiFranco in concert. For those of you who don’t have lyrics from “If He Tries Anything” as your yearbook quote, she’s a folk rock singer-songwriter whose powerful lyrics about feminism, abortion rights, and fighting oppression have buoyed many Gen X and elder Millennial feminists. She was like a beloved older cousin who taught me that being fierce, feminist, and angry were a-okay – and, in fact, that anger was an appropriate response to the world around me. The last time I saw her live was in 2004......

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Freedom to Give

“A contract is a transaction. A covenant is a relationship. A contract is about interests. A covenant is about identity. That is why contracts benefit, but covenants transform.“ In these terse words of enduring wisdom, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks draws our attention to the covenants we might long have overlooked and the contracts that we mistook for something more (see Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times for additional wisdom). Such was certainly the case for the Israelites, as becomes evident in this week’s Torah portion, T’rumah (Exodus 25:1 – 27:19). It......

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The Plague of Uncertainty

Throughout Moses’ showdown with Pharaoh, there is one overarching, emotional plague that God wreaks upon the Egyptians: uncertainty. They do not know when the litany of discomforts, outrages, upsets, frustrations, pains, and fears will end. We gain insight into the Egyptian mindset just after Moses pronounces that God will bring locusts to eat whatever remains of the crops after the hail. Moses departs Pharaoh’s court and then we read (Exodus 10:7): “Pharaoh’s courtiers said to him, ‘How long shall this one be a snare to us? Let the people go to worship......

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Have We Stopped Dreaming?

In times of prolonged pain, be it emotional or physical, our world constricts and perspectives contract. We focus on the moment-to-moment or the day-to-day. Right now, this describes many of us. The waves of pandemic (and waves of variants) evoke waves of trauma that we have yet to process. We have long since put aside aspirations of self-actualization and seek merely to preserve aspects of ourselves from two years ago. Uncertainty of the future is itself a source of pain, and we have stopped dreaming about what it might hold – or......

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Inviting Kids To Make History By Reading About Hanukkah: A conversation with Emily Singer, author of Gilgul

Emily Singer is the author of a new book — one receiving good attention in many quarters, including a warm review in a recent edition of the Jerusalem Post. The book is called Gilgul, and while it’s intended for middle-school-age readers, and would make a great Hanukkah gift for same, it carries a message we could all use — one combining great pride in ethnic/national/religious identity and genuinely embracing the idea that each particularity must connect with something larger than itself. I had the opportunity to “sit down” with Emily, despite the......

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Bully Pulpits and Pulpit Bullies

When President Teddy Roosevelt coined the term “Bully Pulpit,” the term “bully” meant “outstanding” or “optimal,” not a pulpit from which one could use their office to bully their audience. New data from Pew Research indicates that a rather high percentage of American Christian religious leaders could take a lesson from the former president when it comes to how they use their own pulpits when addressing political issues. Pastors Often Discussed Election, Pandemic and Racism in Fall of 2020 The polling results, based on the content of sermons offered from the pulpits......

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Leadership Lessons and Serving the Servers in The Holy Land

Also by Rabbi Joshua Stanton You are standing in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, the Church of the Nativity looms before you, and you feel like the kid in the Disneyland commercial who says, “I’ve been waiting my whole life to see you.”   You are a Christian leader standing in the Western Wall Plaza and discover that you now understand more fully how and why so many Jews attach so deeply to this one spot in particular and to Israel in general, even as you also discover that you, as a Christian, may still feel......

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