Author Archives: Alex Braver

Alex Braver

About Alex Braver

is a rabbinic fellow at B'nai Jeshurun and a third-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He has also served as a student chaplain, studied at Yeshivat Hadar, and tutored remedial math and English at a charter school in Boston. He graduated from Brandeis University in 2009 with majors in history and politics.

A Fragile Balance

Alex Braver
November 18, 2013

As an overworked, overscheduled, and overtired rabbinical student, I hear a lot about “self-care” from my teachers and classmates. People–like rabbinical students–who go into the “helping professions” often have a tendency to want to give and give and give, to feel responsible for helping others at the expense of their own well-being. Sometimes, saying no More »

0

Scenes at the Kotel

Alex Braver
October 24, 2013

1.  I was a freshman in college, on a trip to Israel with my family.  I had a K-6 Jewish day school education but was not religiously observant.  The Kotel felt huge, overwhelming, full of meaning.  It seemed like the center of all Judaism, the holiest place on earth.  I felt the enormity of the More »

0

Avodah She’Balev – Service of the Heart

Alex Braver
September 4, 2013

The Holy of Holies was a sacred, mysterious, dangerous place.  It lay in the center of the Temple, in the center of Jerusalem, in the center of the universe, and was the place where God’s Presence was most imminently and overpoweringly felt.  To enter it at the wrong moment, unprepared and unpurified, carried grave consequences, More »

2

Israel as Exile

Alex Braver
June 5, 2013

I’ve lived in Israel for ten months now, and every week in synagogue I hear this prayer, composed shortly after the state’s independence in 1948: אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם, צוּר יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוֹאֲלוֹ, בָּרֵךְ אֶת מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל רֵאשִׁית צְמִיחַת גְּאֻלָּתֵנוּ. Heavenly Father, Israel’s Rock and Redeemer, bless the State of Israel, the first flowering of our redemption. There More »

1

Which Covenant?

Alex Braver
May 3, 2013

As I write this, my year studying in Israel is coming to a close, and as an American liberal Jew living in Jerusalem, I’m more confused about what “covenant” means than ever before.  Perhaps because, on my daily walk to school, I pass by dozens of people, each with entirely different notions of the same More »

0

My Least Favorite Question

Alex Braver
April 19, 2013

It’s my least favorite question. I get it at parties, when running into an acquaintance I haven’t seen in a long time, and speaking with relatives or family friends.  I get it from Jews and non-Jews, during late-night conversations and at the dentist’s office.  I can see it coming from miles away as people go More »

1

Half a Shekel

Alex Braver
March 6, 2013

God is a God of taxes.  Or at least, it might have seemed that way to ancient Jewish farmers living in the land of Israel.  They had to give a gift offering to the priests, then take a tenth of what was left and give it to the Levites, then another tenth to be eaten More »

1

Reading Torah Multidimensionally

Alex Braver
February 19, 2013

I live with a multidimensional relationship to my Judaism.  On the one hand, I live a fairly traditional life, I read texts from the rabbinic tradition and make personal and spiritual meaning from Jewish rituals.  Yet on the other hand, I see a human hand in the tradition’s formation.  I learn about Torah from a More »

0

Is God a Work in Progress?

Alex Braver
January 29, 2013

The story of the Bible is the story of God and God’s work in progress: humanity.  But humanity has a way of constantly surprising God, and throughout the books of the Hebrew Bible, we see God test out many strategies for dealing with this strange new creature.  And in a way that is somewhat counterintuitive More »

0