On Pyramids and Impermanence

Roses, Thorns, and Buds

One of the many glues that binds our family together is our love of storytelling. We rarely miss opportunities to replay our highlights (and lowlights), reveling in the snowball effect as the stories gain meaning, matter, and momentum with each retelling.

Continue Reading

The First Passover, Then and Now

The Sages distinguish between two Passover celebrations — the first one, called Pesach Mitzrayim, the Passover of Egypt, and every other Passover celebration after that one, known as Pesach Dorot, the Passover of subsequent generations.

Continue Reading

Article by https://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/17/us/victor-edward-cohn-80-science-reporter.html

Three Thoughts after Totality

While words and photos will never be able to capture the experience of totality, a few thoughts came to me after driving fourteen hours over two days with my family for this scientific and awe-inspiring pilgrimage.

Predictability and the Unforeseen

The solar eclipse itself was completely predictable from an astronomical perspective – there was even an article from an Ohio newspaper from 1970 letting people know that “the next showing [would be] in 2024.” And if airlines and hotels actually did book travel twenty years in advance, you could know right now that you should travel to Tulsa, Tampa, or Orlando on August 12, 2045 to be in the path of totality.

Continue Reading

(Almost) Eclipsing the Eclipse

As the wine steward said to Pharaoh in Genesis 41:9, “I declare my sins now.” The sin I declare now is my tone-deafness to the significance of this week’s solar eclipse.  I just didn’t understand why it was such a big deal to so many people, including to many of the Rabbinic Fellows in Clal’s LEAP program, run in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.

Continue Reading

Why is Jewish ritual so complicated?

Rise. Take three steps backwards – one with each of the first three words in Hebrew. Take three steps forward with each of the next three words in Hebrew. Bend your knee with the word “Blessed,” bow with the word “You” and stand up straight with the word “God.” Continue singing words of prayer, bowing at the allotted times, rising at the allotted times, carefully pronouncing each word – all the while racing through prayers and melodies, like familiar paths through a corn maze, which never seems exactly the same twice. Affirm relationship with God. Choose your theologically preferred language about the messianic era. Call forth a blessing for rain or dew in the Holy Land, depending on the time of year. Make requests of God – if it’s not Shabbat, when God also needs rest. Pray silently, filling just the right amount of time with prayers of the heart. Return to communal prayer with melodious aspirations for peace. Oh yes – and do all this while wearing a prayer shawl and/or phylacteries, if it is the designated day and time of day, and is your custom. All of this in hopes of resembling the angels and mirroring an anthropomorphic human projection of a God who might also don these sacred objects.

Continue Reading

The Eclipse Isn’t Just a Natural Process — It’s a Historical Event

Our family isn’t great about planning things in advance. There have been years when, say, Pesach would be coming in about a week, and we realized we hadn’t ordered all the food we’d need for the seders, leading to a few rather frantic trips to the kosher supermarket.

So while we had been hearing about the upcoming eclipse, we had sort of figured that a 90% partial eclipse (the path along which we live) would be a decent enough experience, and didn’t spend a whole lot of time mapping out a plan – we’d go outside, say, “Cool!” a few times like we did for the 2017 eclipse, and then go back inside.

Continue Reading