Tazriah & Metzorah: Taking Comfort in Pain

This week we read two Torah portions, Tazriah, meaning ‘she gives birth’ and Metzorah, meaning one who has a skin affliction. The laws of impurity offered here governed who was allowed to approach the place of divine presence and were central to ritual practice in Temple times. We learn that women who give birth, people […]

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Lech Lecha: the Torah of Leave-Taking

This week’s parsha, Lech Lecha, contains one of the most famous lines in the Torah: “Go you forth from your land, from your birthplace, from your father’s house to the land I will let you see.” These words from G-d to Abraham begin Abraham’s path to becoming the father of the Jewish people and of the […]

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Yitro – The Gift of Asking

This week’s parsha, from the book of Exodus, is Yitro, or Jethro, so named for Moses’ father-in-law. In this reading, Jethro visits Moses in the desert near Mount Sinai, where he now lives with the Israelites. Upon arriving, he discovers that Moses spends all day surrounded by the Israelites, who come to him morning and […]

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Shemot: Driving Out Fear and Self-Doubt

This week’s parsha, Shemot (“Names”), might be a familiar one, as it’s the beginning not only of the book of Exodus but of the story we tell every year at Passover. A lot happens in this parsha; the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt by a fearful Pharaoh who orders all newborn Hebrew boys thrown into […]

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Enter the ark and find the beauty within the storm – Parsha Noach

This week’s parsha (Torah chapter) is from the first book of the Torah, Genesis or Bereishit which is usually translated as, “In the Beginning.” It involves the famous story of Noah’s Ark. The story says that Noah was the only righteous man in a corrupted world. He is told by G-d to make an ark […]

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Reflections on September 11

September 11, 2011 Ten years ago today I was a college student and lived in the East Village. After the first plane hit the World Trade Center, a friend called and told me to look outside. Then my TV and phone lines went out. Running to school, the only place I thought felt safe, I […]

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The task at hand – Parsha Beshalach

This weeks Torah portion, Beshalach, conveys some wonderful insights into the contemplative practices that we have been exploring together at the JMC. The story opens as the Israelites have embarked on the exodus from Egypt following a long and painful process of liberation. The text tells us that Pharaoh expressed regret for allowing the nation […]

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Fear, vulnerability, a room full of seventh graders

Last night a room full of seventh graders sat silently, followed their breath, contemplated the Sh’ma, practiced listening, and asked lots of insightful and deep questions. Usually these classes are small- five to ten students, but last night the entire 7th grade class decided they wanted to learn Jewish meditation. I tried to get half […]

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Walking Meditation Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Tonight (7pm, meet us on the Manhattan side of the Bridge) we’re walking, mindfully and meditatively, across the Brooklyn Bridge with the Brooklyn Zen Center. The Brooklyn Bridge, iconic and beautiful and fun to walk across, is sort of a perfect physical metaphor. Bridging traditions, connecting mindfulness to daily life, and if you haven’t been […]

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But Can We Count the Buddhas in a Minyan?

In That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and Passionate Buddhist, by Sylvia Boorstein, there’s a part about how when first teaching meditation for Rabbis, Sylvia was really concerned about having Buddha statues in the meditation room and spent a lot of time and energy figuring out how to cover or […]

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