Ending 11 Months of Kaddish

Tomorrow, the 26th of Tevet 5771, marks the end of the first 11 months since my Grandmother’s (z”l) death.  Jewish tradition does not require grandchildren to recite kaddish.  (You may find a brief article on Jewish mourning laws by Rabbi and Professor Ruth Langer.)   I chose to say kaddish for her and observe this tradition because of the nature of our relationship.  Prayer, ritual and study have brought (and continue to bring) me comfort and inspiration.  Tomorrow morning I will join with others and daven the shacharit (morning) service.  I will rise for the recitation of kaddish for the last time until her yahrzeit in another month and I will share a short drash with the community (and then post it here on the blog.)  May her memory be a blessing to all of us who knew her and loved her.

On the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Earlier today the United States Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the policy known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. DADT forced gay men and lesbian women serving in the US Armed Forces to choose between the honor, dignity and responsibility of serving in the US Military and living lives in hiding. When I served as a Chaplain Candidate Program Officer in the US Navy was only about a year old. The policy was already having a powerful impact, forcing people to choose between closet and career. At that early stage of the policy chaplains were in a bind – – be a safe person to talk to, help people cope, follow policy? Difficult, difficult decisions.

Fast forward to today and victory – – people can serve for all the many reasons that men and women choose to serve in the US Armed Forces: love of country, patriotism, desire to help others, discipline, earn money for an education, dedication, love of brother/sister soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines.   One’s sexual orientation no longer has to be a factor.   Freedom.  Freedom.

Judaism teaches us that all human beings are created in the image of the Divine, whether men love women, women love men, men love men or women love women.  There are a variety of opinions within organized Judaism about the place of homosexuality in Judaism, but halakha and human dignity are not the same thing.

זה היום עשה הי - zeh hayom asah A – this is the day that G-d created, a day of rejoicing.

Some links on the repeal of DADT:

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz on why repeal of DADT is a spiritual victory

NYTimes news story

Service Members United

Twitter stream on DADT

Wikipedia info

Looking for information on Jewish Parenting?

Are you raising Jewish kids? Are you an important adult in the life of Jewish kids (even if not their parent)? If so, you may be interested in http://kveller.com or their twitter feed http://twitter.com/kveller.

The site is put together by the same people who created http://myjewishlearning.com, a site which I’ve utilized and referenced for many years.

There are quite a few parenting blogs in cyberspace.  As a non-parent, I don’t keep an extensive list.   A do read blogs by a few friends who write about being Jewish parents:


Frume Sarah

Being a Jew in C-U

May parenting, teaching and interactions with children always be filled with respect, honor, joy, patience and an eye for the future.

Shavuah tov – a good new week

As shabbat ended a few hours ago a new week began, filled with the potential and possibilities in front of us each week. What will the week bring and what will we accomplish with it? We will plan, we will execute and we will change when some things go as expected and others do not.

This week’s Torah portion was Bereshit, the first portion of the new Torah reading cycle. This morning our congregation read the story of creation in Genesis 1:1-2:3.

Following lunch we discussed the juxtaposition of the creation narratives in Genesis 1-2:3 and 2-3. We examined the perspectives and styles of the texts, the role of gender in the texts, the interpretation gender roles in the stories, the “job” of the snake, the blessings (and challenges) of Eve and Adam’s decision to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Closing Days of 5770

As 5770 draws to close, I look back on a year of personal change, growth and many blessings. The year was largely positive personally, yet so many people in the world faced (and continue to face) challenges – war, unemployment, natural disaster, disconnection, abuse, fear and hate.

The shofar, a ram's horn blown during the High Holy Days to call us action, to introspection, to teshuvah.

There is much work to do in our world – many lives to help, many people who yearn for meaning, for connection, for hope. I pray that I can contribute a bit of my part in the days, weeks and months to come. May our world be more peaceful and better in 5771 than in 5770.

Friendship Gets Us Through

I just got off the phone with a dear and close friend. Since I spoke with her last week she has gone through some major changes: moving, helping her kids through changing to new schools, a new commute and a huge personal change. Our conversation was full of all of the stress, joy, anxiety and hope she is feeling. Why blog about this?

The changes she is living seem to be part and parcel of the kind of self-reflection of this time of year. Who are we, what choices do we make? When do we make them? How do we use our support systems?

During these last days of Elul we reflect on our lives and our choices.  I pray that my friend continues to feel the support, hope, courage and strength that continue to sustain her.

Jewels of Elul

The month of Elul is over half over and Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) is quickly approaching.   The hectic days of Elul call to us not only to accomplish the many tasks of each day, but also to prepare our hearts, minds and souls for the upcoming Days of Awe.

A few years ago, Craig Taubman began Jewels of Elul – daily reflections on life, repentance, forgiveness, hope and more. Today, the 19th of Elul, Noah Alpert wrote about challenges, promises and the great gifts of life.

You may subscribe to Jewels of Elul and receive a daily reflection in your email.  Go to the website to read entries for any day over the past few years.

Shavuah Tov

Shavuah tov – a good new week to you and yours.  I hope that you had a good Shabbat.

I am beginning my week by making some blog changes that I’ve been considering for some time.  You may have noticed that I edited the title of this blog from “Thoughts from a Rabbi” to “Amelah’s Blog (Thoughts from a Rabbi.)”  I’ve done as part of the transition from keeping this blog on WordPress.com to making it part of my personal website.  I have also added my twitter feed in the side bar.  The site will continue to evolve over the coming days and I welcome feedback.

I hope that this week will be a good one for you and yours.