// Ni'Sh'ma


This category contains 25 posts

NiSh’ma - Social Movements

“The world is too dangerous to live in — not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who sit and let it happen.”
— Albert Einstein
Since the Holocaust, Jews the world over have asked: How could the people of Europe have allowed the extermination of 6 million Jews? We are perplexed [...]

NiSh’ma - The Jewish Workplace

“Sing, you barren woman who has not borne; burst out into song and jubilate, you who have not experienced birth pangs, for the children of the desolate one are more than the children of the
married woman, says the Lord.”
— Isaiah 54:1
Exhilarating, intense, passionate, euphoric, transformative. These are the words of the innovation sector. Stressful, underfunded, [...]

NiSh’ma - Communities and Synagogues

“The real beginning of community is when its members have a common relation to the center overriding all other relations: the circle is described by the radii, not by the points along its circumference.”
—Martin Buber, Paths in Utopia
If asked what they most appreciate about our congregation, many congregants would respond, “the community.” In a society [...]

NiSh’ma - Lessons from the book of Yonah

“Should I not have pity on Nineveh, that great city?”
—Jonah 4:10-11
The city of Nineveh, capital of Assyria, is near contemporary Baghdad in Iraq.  In 722 BCE, the Assyrians, a people famed for their cruelty, conquered Samaria in Northern Israel. Generations later, after the Babylonian exile in 586 BCE, the author of the book of Jonah [...]

NiSh’ma - Changing Notions of Torah

“For the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.” —Deuteronomy 30:14
Our verse provides an emphatic answer to a question fundamental to the human spirit: Where do wisdom and holiness reside? Preceding verses explored where the Torah, our blueprint for holiness, is not: It is not in [...]

NiSh’ma - The Jewish Table

Rabbi Yohanan and Resh Lakish explain: At the time when the Temple stood, the altar used to make atonement for a person; now a person’s table makes atonement for him. (Talmud Bavli, Chagigah 27a) “A person’s table makes atonement for him…” by means of welcoming guests to one’s table, “hachnasat orchim.” —Rashi on Chagigah 27a
What [...]

NiSh’ma - Consumerism

“And you shall bring no abhorrent thing into your house or you will be under the ban like it. You shall surely despise it and shall surely abhor it, for it is under the ban.” —Deuteronomy 7:26
Simply read, this verse bans the abhorrent from the Jewish home. In doing so, it asks us to define [...]

The Prophets and the Moralists

“The moralists discuss, suggest, counsel; the prophets proclaim, demand, insist.”
—Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets
When I first picked up Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s seminal book on the prophets, I read it with a healthy dose of skepticism. As an organizer, I was frustrated with people who fashioned themselves as modern-day prophets — men and women who [...]

NiSh’ma - Tzedakah

Honor God with your wealth. (Proverbs 3:9) If you are good-looking, don’t be morally loose, lest people will say, “So-and-so is good-looking, and he exploits it by having inappropriate sex.” Instead, honor God with your wealth. Another interpretation: Honor God with your wealth, so you don’t come to honor God without any wealth. Yet
another interpretation: [...]

NiSh’ma, September 2011

Come see! Behold, the union of all things at once: “The Lord has made bare His holy arm…” (Isaiah 52:10): This is the [left] arm of salvation, of vengeance, of redemption. Why? To raise Israel from the dust: to bring Her to Him… And when this [arm] is raised to receive Her, fear engulfs the [...]

Works in Progress

UPCOMING February 2013 Multidimensional Judaism: Six Basic Questions

  • David Moss explains the artistic concept of multidimensional Judaism
  • Yakir Englander asks: What is behind me?
  • Sarah Chandler asks: What surrounds me?
  • Elie Holtzer asks: What is within me?
  • David Wolpe asks: What is above me?
  • Ira Stone asks: Whom do I face?
  • Susan Silverman asks: What is ahead me?
  • Elka Abrahamson reflects on the essays
  • Jonathan Woocher explores how to educate for a multidimensional Jew
  • Beth Cousens creates a matrix to track our Jewish life
  • Owen Gottleib suggests games for an integrated Judaism