The Debt (HaGomel Le’Chayavim)

Posted on January 31st, 2017 in

Published in The Times of Israel, January 30, 2017: It was late last night. It could have been as late as midnight but I would not dare write midnight as only a clock or God in His infinite wisdom could have revealed the exact hour. As I did not have a watch on me, I will […]

Celebrating Ten Years at CBI: Words of Appreciation

Posted on September 19th, 2016 in

Celebrating Ten Years at CBI Words of Appreciation – Gala 2016 Yonatan: A number of years ago, I asked one of our children what he thinks a rabbi does.  I was immediately told that the rabbi announces pages in shul.  Just last week, I asked our boys the same question again, and this time, I […]

Torah debate leads to a lesson about cover-ups and sins

Posted on July 29th, 2016 in

Published July 28, 2016 Pinchas: Numbers 25:10-30:1, Jeremiah 1:1-2:3 In this week’s parashah, the daughters of Zelophehad challenge the Torah’s laws of inheritance in the presence of Moses, Elazar the Kohen and the chieftains of Israel. The issue on the table: Their father had passed away, leaving no sons behind. Their argument: “Why should our father’s name […]

Defiled or purified? Our paradoxical nature

Posted on April 1st, 2016 in

Published in the J Weekly of March 31, 2016. Order or disorder? That is the question! Can human beings make sense of the world we live in and gain a measure of access into the inner workings of God’s design, or must the meaning and seeming disorder of our existence ultimately remain impenetrable to our […]

Ending each chapter on a positive note changes the story

Posted on November 3rd, 2015 in

Published in the J Weekly of  October 8, 2015 Bereshit Genesis 1:1-6:8 Isaiah 42:5-43:10 This Shabbat, Jewish communities across the world will begin anew the annual reading of the Torah, starting at the very beginning with the creation of humanity and the world. As we set out on this journey once again, I would like […]

Closing our eyes to see the bigger picture that lies beyond us

Posted on November 3rd, 2015 in

Published in the J Weekly August 13, 2015 Re’eh Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 Rosh Chodesh Elul, Numbers 28:9-15, Isaiah 66:1-24 The opening verse of this week’s Torah portion urges us to open our eyes and see blessings and curses placed before of us. “See, I present before you today a blessing and curse” (Deuteronomy 11:26). At times, the difference […]

Realizing our dreams and those of our people

Posted on November 3rd, 2015 in

Published in the J Weekly of December 18, 2014: The first time I met my mentor, Rabbi Avi Weiss, he asked me in a low, soft voice: “Yonatan, tell me about your dreams.” In the years that followed, in yeshiva and then as rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley, I quickly learned that dreams […]