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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Rabbis Without Borders Imagine the most diverse group of rabbis you can. Take a moment and summon a visual in your mind. Now compare it with this group: 22 men (some clean-shaven, others bearded) and women (one pregnant, another gray-haired); single and married; gay & straight; several recent graduates of seminaries and a few approaching...

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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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When the Planets Aligned

According to my cursory Google search, the last time five planets aligned was in February.

According to my life experience, the planets were perfectly aligned yesterday.


I was rushing from place to place when I became lightheaded. Realizing I hadn’t eaten a proper meal all day and knowing I could make it to my next appointment with five minutes to spare, I stopped at Whole Foods for coffee and a muffin. Let me be clear about something: I hardly ever go into Whole Foods. I can’t remember the last time I was there, but I’m certain it was more than six months ago.

I was looking down at my wallet on the counter to see if I had enough cash when I heard a familiar voice say, “I’ll call you back. I have to hug a friend.” I looked up just in time to throw my arms wide to receive Natali’s greeting.  A few days ago we were Facebook messaging back and forth, lamenting that we hadn’t seen each other since May and wouldn’t see each other before mid-September.

This would be unremarkable, a mere coincidence, if three hours later I hadn’t run into another person just moments after mentioning their name in an even more unlikely place.

Two hours after the second incident, a person I’d met only once before–who was sitting a few feet away from me– looked up and told me she’d suddenly realized my sister-in-law had mentioned me to her earlier in the summer, shortly after we’d first met. She pulled out her phone to show me a picture from when they were together.

I stayed up late into the night, into the early hours of this morning, pondering what Force in the universe brought these three people into my life yesterday.

Do you think God intervenes in the personal lives of humans?

Is it fate?

At dawn, I still don’t know what to believe.



Back to School

One great thing about going back to school is it presents an opportunity to return to routines, though I will allow that I’ve had only moderate success. My eating and sleeping habits may have deteriorated this past week. On the plus side, I’ve reaffirmed my commitment to writing weekly and, so far, I’m on a winning streak.

rwb_logo196Here’s an excerpt of my post at the Rabbis Without Borders blog on I hope you’ll read the full reflection and share your reaction in the comments section. Let’s see if we can keep the Conversational Torah going through Rosh HaShanah:

Reasonable Risks: I spent the summer thinking about how to discuss risk-taking with teenagers. While teens generally have a reputation for taking unreasonable risks, my experience in teaching them is that many are anxious or risk-averse in a classroom setting. I empathize with these students, because Read more →





Passover Playlist: Four Songs

I’ve created this Passover Playlist for my children—who are understandably anxious and sad about leaving their childhood home of sixteen years—and there is a bonus song for my spouse. These are the songs I’ve been singing while they are at school and work and I am at home, spending my Spring Break packing boxes. Since the week ahead promises to be rough on all of us, let’s soothe our nerves with music:


For all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you…

It just takes some time…you’re in the middle of the ride…everything everything will be alright…

Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people  and things that went before, I know I’ll often stop and think about them, in my life, I love you more.

With all your faults I love you still, it had to be you, wonderful you…

rwb_logo196I’m at the Rabbis Without Borders blog this week, sharing some moments from our family seder and reflections on moving next week. Please visit and leave your comments at the website:

From Slavery to Freedom, From Grief to Joy: In ten days we will be surrounded by these same boxes in a different house. After nine months of preparation—purging our house of unnecessary stuff and packing the essentials for our journey—my family will leave our home of sixteen years. The timing of our move, immediately after Passover, inspired much discussion at our Seder about leaving behind the burdens of last year and…Read more →