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Imagine a Sabbatical

I was once speaking on a panel at the Pentagon, along with a dozen or so other religious leaders. We were sharing our respective traditions with Pentagon leaders, who in turn could support religious pluralism across the military in collaboration with its chaplaincy staff. The gathering took place in a large auditorium, with a much fuller audience than I would have expected. Many of the officers seemed exhausted from their tireless work to keep our country safe. Some were even dozing off – or trying their best to avoid doing so. 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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Reckoning or Reconciliation?  How About Both?

To impeach or not to impeach. That is the question. Or is it? Perhaps the more important question at this moment is not a question of what to do, but of why we do it. That has certainly been my approach, as I am asked if there are any spiritual or religious responses to the cresting chorus of those who are ready to explain the “right answer” to the question of impeachment — Focusing on the “why” more than the “what.” The question of whether or not the President should be impeached,......

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An Interview with Rabbi Avram Mlotek

Kohelet / Ecclesiastes 12:12 warns us that “to the making of books, there is no end,” suggesting that maybe it’s enough already with the book, and that was over 2,000 years ago! So, let me start by asking you — one author to another — why another book, and what, if any, of Kohelet’s concerns accompanied you in the making of this one? What would our libraries look like if the Jewish canon ended with Ecclesiastes’ nihilistic, subversive, depressive charge? The people of the book deserve as many books as there are......

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