Longform


Premonitions: Parshat Sh'lach (Numbers 13:1 - 15:41)

Sometimes we can feel in our bones that something is going to go wrong. We can’t explain why or how, but we can sense the impending trouble. Some call it intuition. Behavioral Economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky might term it “thinking fast,” with our subconscious outpacing the centers of rational reasoning; bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell might call it “thinking without thinking.” One of my mentors, Hedy Peyser, LCSW, would often reiterate, “sometimes you just know.” Moses knew. It would be easy to presume that God had foreshadowed the rebellion of all......

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Once-in-a-Decade Revelations

Every year at Shavuot, Jewish communities all around the world celebrate the giving of Torah with raucous gatherings, enormous slabs of cheesecake, and Torah learning from dusk to dawn. Of the many fond memories I have of my time living in Jerusalem a decade ago, house-hopping throughout the night of Shavuot sits comfortably atop the list. I learned provocative, inspiring Torah from complete strangers, danced with folks from Haredi to Hiloni (strictly Orthodox to strictly secular), and emerged from my last learning session to feel the rising sun on my face while I prayed at the......

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Looking Evil In the Face, Boldly and Beautifully

“If there is only one book you are going to read….” is not something I say often, and something I don’t think should ever be said about a topic as important and as complicated as the Holocaust. I will say though, that anyone who cares about the topic, or any questions of evil and how we respond to it, really must read Faris Cassell’s new, and already award-winning book, The Unanswered Letter. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Faris about her work, which had already been awarded first place in......

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Derek Chauvin, Justice and Deuteronomy 16:20

Closing arguments in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd are unfolding as I write. The voices of protestors, speculators, and commentators rise, along with the voices of attorneys for both the state and for Mr. Chauvin, all calling for “Justice,” in these final hours before the case is handed to the jury. There is no shortage of stridently held opinions about what should happen here — not from the lawyers, the protestors, the commentators or the speculators — most notably, from Rep. Maxine Waters, whose words both inspire and......

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Deeper Intentions and the Life of Daunte Wright

At the very same time the trial against Derek Chauvin is unfolding in Minneapolis, another Black man, Daunte Wright, has been killed by a police officer in nearby Brooklyn Center.  George Floyd, as is well known and viscerally horrifying, was killed by Chauvin as the now-former officer pressed down on his neck for nine and one-half minutes, ignoring pleas for mercy and for justice.  The intention to use force was clear. The trial will determine if nine and a half minutes of application of such force can be equated to murderous intent......

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