The Allen School

The Allen School

The Allen School was the worst school in the Dayton, Ohio system for many years,. Located in the dilapidated inner city, the dropout rate was astronomical. Fifth graders had parole officers.

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Xenocide

XENOCIDE

As we are about to celebrate Pesach, I want to think about a word I associate with the High Holidays. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when we repent for our sins and mistakes in the last year, we have a confession called the vidui that uses every letter of the Hebrew alphabet to name a sin or a fault. When the English translators wanted to duplicate this Hebrew acrostic, they did not know what to do with the letter “x”, which does not exist in Hebrew, so they came up with Xenophobia, which is fear of the strange and the alien, fear of the other. At first, people I know mocked this translation, but they don’t mock it any more.

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Lies and Truths

Lies and Truths

It might seem strange that we are at a point in time that we need to talk about telling the truth, but we are clearly at that point in time.

The Torah says: “You must not carry false rumors; you shall not join hands with the guilty to act as a malicious witness.” (Exodus 23:1)

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A Wall In Your Heart

A Wall In Your Heart

Following the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (70 C.E.), the outer western wall of the Temple Mount became Judaism’s most holy and sacred space. The Western Wall, or the Kotel was never abandoned by Jewish people and there was always a special veneration for that holy space.

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Fighting Chaos

Fighting Chaos

I keep thinking about the hurricane season that passed, because for a lot of the victims of those terrible catastrophes, the nightmare is far from over. After I continue to send funds to those who need, I try to understand these events. And I think about the story of the ancient Flood and how Noah survived: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11).

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Visiting The Sick

Visiting The Sick

A recent Bat Mitzvah, Rachel Goldstein, does a wonderful mitzvah: she visits the Ronald McDonald House in New Haven to play with children whose siblings are being treated in near by hospitals. Rachel and her mother Tanya have gone to the house to do craft projects and play games with the kids while the parents are in the hospital with their siblings. A mitzvah is not just a good deed. It is a commandment: We are commanded to visit the sick.

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Light Bulbs

Light Bulbs

You know the joke: “How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb? None –it’s Ok; I’ll sit in the dark.”
Actually there’s a whole genre of Jewish light bulb jokes. Pretty soon, there were lots and lots of others being told. For instance:

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The Home Run Derby and How We Think About Our Lives

The Home Run Derby and How We Think About Our Lives

In case you don’t know, the Home Run Derby is an annual home run hitting contest in Major League Baseball, customarily held the day before the MLB All-Star Game, which places the contest on a Monday in July. There is a kind of legend about the Home Run Derby, that there is a Curse: If you win, it will hurt your home run output for the rest of the season.

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I Came In

I Came In

We have a custom around here that a Bar or Bat Mitzvah can ask me to give a sermon at their ceremony on a subject of their interest. Usually, this means that I have to read a young adult book or watch a current popular show. A recent Bat Mitzvah, Sadie Meltzer asked me to deal with one of the most serious subjects there is, dealing with bad things you have no control over.

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