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Neshama Interfaith Center Marian Monahan, a founder of the Neshama Interfaith Center, speaks in the voice of a prophet. She preached these words on Mother's Day at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta, and has graciously allowed me to share them here: Those of you who know me are aware that I'm quite involved in the interfaith...

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American Guild of Judaic Art The American Guild of Judaic Art is a not-for-profit membership organization for those with interests in the Judaic arts. Guild Members include artists, galleries, collectors & retailers of Judaica, writers, educators, appraisers, museum curators, conservators, lecturers, and others personally or professionally involved...

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Tiferet: Literature, Art & the Creative Spirit Thanks to the encouragement of Tiferet's editors and community of writers, I've taken risks with my writing—submitting poetry to their site and entering their annual writing contest. Tiferet Talk, featuring interviews with authors, has also been a wellspring of inspiration. Here are links to my most recent posts at Tiferet: Gratitude...

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Encountering Angels: Reading Genesis with my Children In this book, my children and I blend traditional Jewish learning and personal experience in our commentary on Genesis, making it unlike any other book written about the biblical text and rabbinic literature related to Genesis.  Like most books of biblical commentary written by rabbis, it examines the text through the...

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Pamela Jay Gottfried is an ordained rabbi, teacher, mother, and self-described wordie. An inveterate Scrabble player and New York Times Crossword Puzzle fanatic, she credits her love of words to her third grade teacher and her parents, who encouraged her to develop her vocabulary through reading and using the dictionary...

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Reciting the Lord’s Prayer

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“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” (Matthew 6:13)

I woke up this morning, after a few fitful hours of sleep, with these words on my lips.

Yesterday, after more than six years of working from home, I gave in to temptation. Today, I face my regrets, reciting the Lord’s Prayer as part of my daily blessings.

You may wonder why a rabbi is reciting what is considered to be a Christian prayer. I’m not surprised, however, since I’ve been a student of History of Religions since my college days, when I learned that The Lords’ Prayer is rooted in Jewish texts, including the Talmud. If you are interested in this matter, I recommend Julie Galambush’s The Reluctant Parting, especially the chapter on The Synoptic Gospels. I am more interested, however, in confessing my trespasses than discussing the Jewish roots of Christian prayer.

My morning routine usually involves dropping my son at school, listening to NPR news on the short ride home, walking the dog and sitting down to write—a routine that has been disrupted this week. Jewish guilt impels me to offer this excuse before immediately retracting it and taking full responsibility for making a bad choice.

television-imageI return from running errands and attending a meeting at my daughter’s school, and decide to have an early lunch before starting my work. I sit down on the couch with a sandwich and turn on the television with the intention of catching up on the news.

Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, begins his briefing on the shootings in Ottawa, speaking earnestly about the close relationship between the United States and Canada. Thousands of people are locked down, without knowing too many details of the events that precipitated the lockdown, as provider’s of the 24-hour news cycle try to make sense of the chaos. Someone makes a reference to 9/11 and I’m transported back in time. I sit, mesmerized, long after my lunch break should have concluded.

Later in the day, I give into a second temptation; scrolling through my Facebook News Feed, I learn about a dead infant in Jerusalem, an injured young woman on the Israeli-Egyptian border.

Late in the evening, near midnight, I succumb to the first temptation a second time. I learn from Rachel Maddow that Ottawa’s lockdown did not lift until after nightfall. There is some good news, too, about the two patients who were being treated for Ebola having fully recovered. But this tidbit comes too late to nourish me; the surfeit of bad news that I invited into my home—all day—has weighed me down with worry.

I sit on the couch, watching reruns of my favorite cop shows, hoping they will offer an escape from reality, a passageway to sleep. My brain concedes long after my legs have fallen asleep under the weight of a sleeping dog.

Today, I don’t give in to temptations of television or Facebook news. I forgive myself yesterday’s trespasses and beg God to deliver us—our world—from evil.

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Hoshana Rabbah Rituals

I’m over at on the Rabbis Without Borders blog of MyJewishLearning.com this week, writing about some personal rituals of remembrance and ancient rituals of Hoshana Rabbah. Please share your thoughts on commemorating the death of a pet; comments on the blog are enabled on Facebook, so it’s easy to invite your friends to join the conversation, as well.

rwb_logo196Remembering Jenna: We won’t light a yahrzeit candle or recite a prayer, despite that our personal practice tends toward traditional observance of rituals. Perhaps because we are more traditional it seems inappropriate to memorialize a family pet in the same way one would a human. Still, I wish to honor her memory…Read more

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Who Knew?

sojourn tweetYesterday, I received this email that I was mentioned in a tweet. Robbie Medwed, Assistant Director at SOJOURN had invited me to write for their blog, challenging me to put my personal feelings into words. Who knew it would take me more than 750 words?!

In his tweet, Robbie gives me more credit than I feel I deserve. When it comes to work that improves the world, he does the heavy lifting and I mostly offer verbal support. I strive to be faithful to the mission of tikkun olam, repairing the world. I am ever grateful for the ability to engage with people whose work benefits so many.

Tomorrow, as Yom Kippur begins, I will contemplate the ways in which I fell short of my goals and atone for missed opportunities and broken promises. I will commit to be better next year.

Then, next week, during the festival of Sukkot—the season of our joy— I’ll celebrate with SOJOURN at the 44th annual Atlanta Pride Parade.

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Proud Parent, Proud Rabbi, Proud Person: There’s a good reason why I’m not marching with my daughter in Atlanta’s Pride Parade this year: I’ll be with my SOJOURN friends and she’ll be with her high school’s GSA. Neither of us will be purposely avoiding the other. It’s just that we each feel more comfortable…Read more

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