With the sad news of Gene Wilder's death, I revisited one of my favorite's of his works, The Frisco Kid. In this phenomenally funny movie, Gene Wilder plays a Polish rabbi sent to serve a community in San Francisco in the 1850s.
We find our illustrious heroes, the Israelite people. They are at the edge of the land, not yet into Israel. For the last few weeks in the Torah, and for most of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses has been preaching to the people. He is terrified and desperate for the people to know what they are to do and how they are to act once they are in the land.
...For the next two hours, I listened. I listened to black women who spoke of challenges and concerns that my white male privilege has shielded me from. I listened to black women who prayed for resolution, strength, and protection. I listened to black women who wanted justice. Beside them, supporting them, and in their name, I chanted, "we're on the people's side", "trust Black women", and "Black lives matter."...
Imagine, for a moment, that you can enter any Jewish setting, a synagogue, a class, a Shabbat meal. You walk in, sit down, and within a few minutes, you know easily what page everyone is on. You feel comfortable and at ease. You know what to do and what is next.
Truth is, very few people these days really feel that comfort. They don’t feel at ease, know what page we’re on, or what is really happening. It’s a problem we all need to face and be honest about...
I was sitting in the large sanctuary when the rabbi announced that there had been another mass shooting, in Florida. The pit in my stomach returned and I sank into my seat. The giant walls of the room, their beautiful stained glass, the bima became gray in my sight. Another shooting. More dead. At that point, I did not know the extent of the violence, the numbers, the hate.
When I returned home, I was informed that nearly fifty people had been murdered in a gay club in Orlando, Florida, and an untold amount of people injured.
Over the last week or two, I have been moving out of my apartment in preparation to move to Pittsburgh. Packing boxes, sorting through papers, getting rid of furniture, and lots of complaining. Moving is challenging. It is tons of tiny acts that when collected, life your life to a new location. What we often miss, a process, I’m trying to engage in myself, is actually transitioning from one life to another.
As many know, I was honored to receive ordination last week from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. I am leaving Los Angeles and moving to Pittsburgh to start the next chapter of my life. I do not know what this will entail exactly other than that I’m excited for what is to come.
I have been reflecting on my new responsibilities and the tasks that come with them.
I want to begin by sharing my sadness and my anger in reading about another mass shooting. The latest, in Kansas, was the 22nd in the month of February alone. It hurts right now, in our country. It is hard to read the news and to see the pain of the families of the victims in the senselessness of this violence.
In our time, it has become easier to marginalize opinions and people we disagree with. We read different newspapers, we watch different television, and we barely communicate with each other on subjects of which we disagree