Archive | April, 2014

Marriage Equality Law Suit Filed April 28, 2014

29 Apr

[Here is my statement from yesterday’s Press Conference announcing the filing of the law suit filed by clergy, religious denominations, and couples, seeking same-sex marriage on First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, grounds]

Our traditions teach: “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.”

I am honored and blessed to stand here today on the right side of history.

As a rabbi of both the Reform and Reconstructionist Jewish movements, supporters of equal rights and marriage for same-sex couples for decades, I am humbled to be in the company of this noble community of plaintiffs and lawyers striving for justice and equal rights for all Americans.

We stand here today as representatives of mainstream religious organizations seeking to help couples create and maintain healthy and principled families.

Judaism calls upon me as a rabbi, and the Jews as a people, to provide communities that support strong families, communities in which all those who belong may celebrate marriage.

Americans trust our religious communities to decide how best to create a wedding ritual and to determine who in our communities receives the blessing of marriage.

Please support this lawsuit that will bring fairness back to our State of North Carolina, and allow all of us to create communities of high principles and moral character; communities of diverse people from all walks of life; communities that celebrate the sanctity of couples in love, through marriages available to same sex couples and heterosexual couples alike.


Article from NY Times:


Our strength depends on outside sources

28 Apr

Day 13 of the Omer

Yesod in Gevurah – a solid and balanced foundation in discipline and the exertion of power.

Keeping in mind solid footing before extending ourselves changes our outlook on strength itself.

When I think about this, even in an emotional and spiritual way, I still imagine it concretely in terms of taking steps on a mountain path, choosing a footing carefully. Or the idea of projecting strength through my arms and how different it is when I have to reach far. Firmly grounded, I am limited in the distance I can reach in strength, or step confidently.

With that image in mind, I get a different sense of the deeper nature of strength and discipline. Our strength depends not only on our stance, but also on where we stand. We depend on our connections to other sources of strength. True strength connects us to solid, balanced, support, and that often comes from outside sources.

Let us see our strength in the interconnections between us and all existence.

precarious step

Image source:

The particle leads to power

28 Apr

Day Twelve of the Omer

Grace in power and discipline.

To be thoughtful of the smallest of things, mindful of our infinitesimal existence, offers a beautiful seed for strength.

The power that comes from humility creates and aids. The discipline that starts with perspective embraces effectiveness.

Let our strength build from small and humble beginnings.

Saying “Never Again” and Meaning It – Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Ukranian Jewish Community

26 Apr

Holocaust Candle

by Rabbi Judy Schindler

Saying “never again” means that when we hear that the Jews of Donetsk, Ukraine, were handed leaflets as they left their synagogue demanding that they pay a $50 fee to register as Jews with pro-Russia militia forces or face having their citizenship revoked and assets frozen, we cry out, “This cannot be!”

Saying “never again” means that when we learn the leaflets were forged and fake, we do not return to our daily tasks without delving deeper.

Saying “never again” means that when we find out that a pro-Russian group has seized the city of Slavyansk’s television station and is spewing anti-Semitic propaganda as a part of its programming, blaming the Jews for the takeover of power in Kyiv, we shudder.

Saying “never again” means that when the main synagogue in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Nikolayev is firebombed and a Holocaust memorial in the Crimean city of Sevastopol is vandalized, we condemn it and ask our country’s leaders to do the same.

Saying “never again” means that when the Jews in Ukraine are fearful about their security, we speak out in their defense and send donations to protect them.

Saying “never again” requires that when we learn that Ukrainian Jews are seeking to immigrate to Israel, we lend support.

To be a Jew is to not be complacent.

To be a Jew is to not be silent.

To be a Jew is to look beyond the headlines to unearth the truth.

To be a Jew is to remember the past and not let it be repeated.

To be a Jew is to be concerned for the safety of all Jews; from the Former Soviet Union to France to Kansas City. We are a small family and must fulfill the Talmudic dictum “The Jewish people are responsible one for one another.”

To be a Jew is to pray that the Creator of peace not only make peace but also give us the strength to be partners in that effort.

To be righteous is to care, and to learn, and to act to fix that which is frighteningly broken.

On this Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, may we remember the six million Jews, among them 1.5 million children, who were victims of genocide simply because of their beliefs, and all the others who were also murdered by the Nazis.

On this Yom Hashoah day, may we say “Never Again” and may we mean it.


Holocaust Remembrance Day begins at sundown on Sunday, April 27, 2014. You can light a 24 hour candle in remembrance, give charity, or study a Jewish text to honor the memory of the six million departed souls.

The NCSJ: National Conference Supporting Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia (NCSJ) whose mission it is to safeguard the rights, freedoms and security of the Jews in the former Soviet Union, is regularly in touch with communities there. Ukraine has a population of 260,000 Jews. If you want to stay connected to what is happening in the Ukranian Jewish communities go to

Think long term when using power

26 Apr

Day Eleven of the Omer

Eternal victory in strength and power.

I imagine that many of us begin an assertion of mastery with the idea, even the hope, of it lasting in perpetuity. I write, teach, and preach, consciously hoping that it will, in small ways, be remembered long past my physical presence.

Such a sentiment can be embraced. When I see myself as having a lasting impact on people and the world I am reminded to use more care in the application of strength and discipline so as to avoid the ripple effect of unintended consequences.

So an essential caveat to the use of strength is the consciousness of its potential for causes beyond our awareness in both width and duration.

Rethinking Strength and Beauty

25 Apr

Day Ten of the Omer

Beautiful balance in strength and discipline.

Let us use this day to expand our internal images of strength and beauty. I believe we are assaulted by impossible to achieve ideas of these concepts. Let’s work on updating our internal pictures of these ideals.

Beautiful balance – we seek it in relationships that mesh just right, sometimes only once in a while; we aim for it in the recognition of the faces of all ages and stages around us engaged in profound joy at existence.

Strength and discipline – found in the attention to our efforts that require regular attention; seen in the people around us who devote time and energy to difficult tasks and get them done even when others find them too difficult.

The Omer gives us the opportunity to reflect on the meanings of words that may have been overwhelmed by forces outside our control. Let us take back these definitions and use them well.

Finding strength

24 Apr

Day 9 of the Omer.

Strength and power within itself.

Each week of the Omer Counting we encounter a day focused on a concept within the same concept. This might seem to be an overly abstract exercise, and I will do my best to make it relevant.

Often we get distracted by the scope of a task, project, or value. For example, in order to get faster as I runner trainers recommend intervals, and tempo runs, and distance runs. None of which will make a difference if I don’t manage to move my feet more quickly.

At the heart of every value is not all the ways that we try to balance it, at the heart is the thing itself. How can we use strength and strictness best? Start with an understanding of its inherent value. Structure helps. Discipline helps. Strength is useful. As we contemplate this value, the full week, and all the weeks of the Oner, remind us that effective strength is only one aspect of any answer.