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On November 15, 2018

Professional or no?

I’ve performed a lot of weddings, but I’ve also been a guest at weddings, some performed by professionals and some not. The non-professional officiants are usually friends of the couple. They know them well and understand what sort of wedding ceremony the couple wants. Some of the ceremonies are terrific. Some are, well, lacking. They
On September 25, 2018

Judaism Unbound

I had a great time talking with Dan and Lex of Judaism Unbound. You can hear the podcast at here or at Judaism Unbound’s Facebook page.
On August 21, 2018

“Blindspotting”

Here’s an important article from the J – The Jewish News of Northern California. When I was in kindershule and mittleshule, there were black Jewish kids who attended, too. I don’t know what their experience in the wider Jewish world was – but this article might be a hint.
On May 6, 2018

Traditional/Not-traditional

“We want a Jewish wedding – but..: I hear that a lot from my wedding couples. What they mean, is they want to honor the Jewish heritage of one or both members of the couple, but they don’t want to hear words they don’t believe or be tied to specific ways of carrying out these
On April 21, 2018

My Favorite Wedding

From time to time, I’m asked, what was my favorite wedding. Sometimes I think maybe it was the one I did for my next-door-neighbor. Or maybe my first one, my sister’s, 30 years ago this month. Or a lovely outdoor wedding in Ann Arbor where the couple recited the verse from Walt Whitman, “I give
On January 31, 2018

Tu B’Shvat

Lessons from the Seven Species we eat at Tu B’Shvat. The date: The date palm is a tree that has no flowers and no smell to draw attention to it. But the fruit is delicious. The date reminds us that there are so many places in our world we might think unremarkable, so many plants
On January 4, 2018

Toxic nationalism is not new

My great-aunt and grandmother lived through the Petlurya pogroms. Their stories would give you nightmares. When I remember this, I fear for our increasingly tribalized world, and our increasingly tribalized country. Pogroms have happened here – not against Jews – and could again. We Jews have the obligation to defend our neighbors. We’ve seen this
On December 25, 2017

Chinese Food

Is Chinese food on Christmas really a Jewish tradition?? Well, of course it is, just a pretty new one, born in America in the mid-20th century when ethnic food meant Italian or Cantonese. (For some reason, all the Cantonese restaurants had neon signs outside that said “cocktails.”) Jews didn’t have anything particular to do on
On October 17, 2017

Of course I do!

If you’re not involved professionally in the Jewish world, you might have missed the current tumult over people from different religious backgrounds marrying each other. (You’ve probably heard this referred to as “intermarriage” or “mixed marriage.”) The Conservative movement, in particular, has been recently in the (Jewish) news because rabbis are speaking out about defying