The Weber School In the spring of 2008, I announced to my students at The Weber School that I was taking a sabbatical to complete the manuscript of Found in Translation: Common Words of Uncommon Wisdom and to be more available to my family. I planned to spend a year replenishing my spirit and reorienting my rabbinate to focus on adult education...

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American Guild of Judaic Art New Vision. New Website. New Year. This new “virtual” home for the Guild was created by dedicated  members from all over the country with different talents and skills, who worked diligently to make the site easy to use, informative and—most importantly—the best venue to display AGJA members’ art.  I stand...

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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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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 a rabbi, parent, teacher, artist and author. An inveterate Scrabble player and New York Times Crossword Puzzle fanatic, she credits her love of words to her parents, who encouraged her to develop her vocabulary through reading and using the dictionary at an early age. Since her ordination from...

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It’s Friday morning.

Because, in many ways, every day at camp feels exactly the same, I consult my calendar every morning to double-check the day and date.

In some ways, though, Friday morning is different. Knowing that Shabbat is imminent, I feel eager to start the day.

In just a few hours, the rhythm of the day will shift and there will be an undercurrent of energy in the air as campers and staff begin Shabbat preparations. I’ll finish teaching campers an hour before lunch, and I’ll clean the studio and shut it down for 36 hours.

After lunch, I’ll head straight to my room to make Shabbatograms to deliver at Kabbalat Shabbat, the service just before sundown when we welcome the arrival of the Sabbath. We’ll light candles before sunset and sing Psalms. The energy will shift once again–the buzz of anticipation replaced by an easy calm–as the relentless pace of daily life at camp is disrupted by joy-filled celebration.

Shabbat at camp bears no resemblance to Shabbat at home, or anywhere else in the world.

“And the skies and the earth and all their array were finished; and God finished on the seventh day the work God had done, and God rested on the seventh day from all the work God had done.” (Genesis 2:1-2)



The Precipice

The car is packed. The dog is walked.

I brew coffee for the long drive. I set a playlist on my iPod.

I am standing on the precipice, ready to leap into summer, ready to create art with campers, ready to mentor counselors.

I look back on my accomplishments and–unlike the song writer–I can find them. I spent the first five months of 2015 being a rabbi, teacher and parent. I worked with colleagues to protest RFRA, I sat with friends in grief, I stood with a family as they welcomed their baby boy into the covenant and gave him his first blessing as a Jew.

I am standing on the precipice, ready to leap into summer, ready to celebrate new accomplishments, ready for whatever awaits.



School’s Out

The last three weeks of the school year are a complete blur, not only because my glasses broke one Monday morning. Snapped in half at the bridge and fell right off my face. There were other funny things that happened, and quite a few serious things.

I spent a lot of time reading Psalms and singing quietly to fill the painful silence. I didn’t mean to stop posting to this blog; I didn’t mean to leave words of shock and grief on the front page of this website for three weeks.

Now school’s out and I’m returning to myself, clearing my mind every morning while walking the dog, challenging my mind every evening with crossword puzzles I’ve been saving for “when I have more time.”

Now school’s out and the rhythm of daily life shifts. “I lift my eyes to the mountains; from where does my help come? My help comes from God.” (Psalm 121)

Knowing this, I begin to write again.

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walking the bridge b-wIf you missed my latest post on the Rabbis Without Borders blog, please follow the link below. I am humbled by the responses on Facebook, where it was shared by many friends, and I am grateful to and 70 Faces Media for sharing it on the Facebook page of and mentioning it in the “What We’re Reading” section of yesterday’s JTA Daily Briefing.

Crossing the Bridge: We are walking along a busy, suburban street that runs mostly parallel to the highway connecting our town to the city immediately to our east. The sidewalk begins at the bridge…Read more →