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I grew up around the excitement of the American space race. I remember sitting in my elementary school class and listening to the reporting of John Glenn’s orbit around the earth. I can recall our science teacher, Mrs. Pfeffer, telling us that someday we wouldn’t even remember this moment because space flight would be so routine. And, of course, since she said that, I made a conscious effort to remember it. And, I also remember an argument that I had with...

(sing this famous Simon and Garfunkel song!) Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again Because a vision softly creeping Left its seeds while I was sleeping And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains Within the sound of silence In restless dreams I walked alone Narrow streets of cobblestone ‘Neath the halo of a streetlamp I turned my collar to the cold and damp When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light That split the night And touched the sound of silence And...

I was in Teaneck, New Jersey over Thanksgiving with my family. And, on Shabbat morning, when I was walking to shul with my nephew Adi, he told me about a new invention called ‘the non-slip tallit.’ A traditional tallit is like a huge blanket which covers your whole body. To make it wearable, most people fold it over in a standard way (like this). The problem is that unless you stand perfectly still, the tallit is going to slip during the...

I want to share with you an American moment. We are now in our fifth year of Muslim-Jewish dialogue at Herzl-Ner Tamid. The next meeting is tomorrow and it’s at MAPS, the mosque in Redmond. The subject of the evening is ‘Tradition and Change’ and it’s being co-led by myself and Khizer Sherif, a lay leader from MAPS. Khizer and I talked this week. And, the first thing he said to me was “do you think we should start by talking...

This has been the most unusual election that I can ever remember in my lifetime. Now that the results are in, half of America is elated and euphoric. And, the other half is devastated and in a state of shock. I count myself among the disappointed. I’m disappointed that America elected a person who made fun of the handicapped, who bragged about assaulting women, and whose tweets could have been lifted from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I think...

I want to share with you again one of my favorite true stories, this time in a different context. Some years ago, when I was a rabbi in Massachusetts, I was teaching a fifth grade class about the Torah. I had them all on the bima, and the Torah was unfurled.   The students were polite and attentive. But, I knew something was bothering them. I knew that it was only a matter of time before someone asked the $64,000 question: what...

Let’s take hold of our song sheets. We’re going to sing a slightly abridged version of this song. I think we all know the melody: The most beautiful sound I ever heard (Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria) All the beautiful sounds of the world in a single word (Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria Maria, Maria) Maria! I just met a girl named Maria And suddenly that name Will never be the same To me Maria I just kissed a girl named Maria And suddenly I found How wonderful a sound Can be Maria Say it loud and there’s music...

In the movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, Meryl Streep plays a wealthy New York City socialite who founded the Verdi Club to celebrate a love for opera. As a philanthropist, Jenkins did a lot of good supporting the arts in New York. But, that’s not what she was famous for. Florence was not content to support music. She wanted to be a singer herself. The problem was she could not sing. But, that did not deter Florence. Over a period of many years, she...

I saw a wonderful little film the other day, called Dark Horse.  Dark Horse is a documentary about Janet Vokes, a barmaid from a small town in South Wales who has a dream of breeding a racehorse. It’s not a complete fantasy. When she was growing up, she had experience breading birds and then dogs. But, breeding a racehorse was an entirely different matter. People from the working class do not usually have the funds to breed a racehorse. It’s expensive to...

In the movie Eye in the Sky  British Colonel Katherine Powell  discovers three of the world’s most wanted terrorists sitting in a safe house in Kenya within range of her drones. When she observes them outfitting someone with a suicide vest, her mission quickly escalates from “capture” to “kill.” But as American pilot Steve Watts is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone.  Worse, she spreads out several loaves of bread to sell, so she is going...