Posted here are resources to learn about, join, and take action around the Shabbat Noach initiatives. Both the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation and the Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism are part of this important effort.

I somehow navigated to these terrific teachings and text sheets – we will use one of them for Torah study this shabbat. Another will be the basis of my Friday night talk. They are truly thought provoking and rich resources. Enjoy.


I’ve been under the weather so haven’t had a chance to post in a while. I came down with this bug the day after returning from this gig in Zumbrota, MN. It was an absolute blast to play with Garison Keillor and well worth the hours of travel down and back. Maybe it was even worth a bad bug… coverage from the Zumbrota newspaper here! The photo below is by Rick Lewis.

Garrison and Amy_ 070

Oeuvre Magazine Interview

October 7, 2009

A member of our Jewish community, Dennis Kempton, is the founder and editor of a fantastic online arts magazine for the Northland. You can view it online and read our conversation in this month’s issue. Help support this new project by viewing the magazine – it’s free and really done well. Yashar koach, Dennis!

Here we are on retreat at Camp Warren getting ready to build the sukkah…what confidence these Northern Minnesotans show! If only the directions had been intelligible….

Ready to build the sukkah

But we persisted and actually got it raised!

We got it up!

Oh, yeah, walls…..

Building those walls

I’ll ask Alice for her amazing photos by jpeg so you can all show off the beauty of the natural surroundings we immersed in for Shabbat and Yom Tov. What a lovely way to celebrate Sukkot and to close the High Holiday season….well, after dancing with sifrei Torah this Friday night that is……

Sydne’s Conversion Talk

October 1, 2009

As promised, below you’ll find the talk Sydne Westorff gave on Friday night or her conversion. It was a glorious day at my home that day doing Beit Din and then mikveh followed by a celebratory meal.  As you may know, Karen, Sydne’s mom, converted and it was an added joy to perform these rituals with and for a mother and her adult daughter. It was so moving….We’re very fortunate to have people like Karen and Synde choosing Judaism and I hope it sweetens your entrance into Sukkot to read Sydney’s talk.

It is our tradition to begin the month of Tishrei by taking time to determine where we will stand with God and with each other when the new year begins.  We do so by looking both at our own life and by listening to Moses retell the story of how we became the People Israel.  We are here on Shabbat Shuvah, in a time between what was and what will be, to make a choice as to where our journey will go from here.  In order to prepare my self for this new beginning I have been reflecting back on the journey that brought me to today; a story of my own that joins me with this people.

Growing up in a Lutheran family there were times when I was deeply devoted to the teachings and other times when I found myself at odds with the tradition.  Read the rest of this entry »

On A Lighter Note

September 22, 2009

For all of us who have worked hard to reflect on who we’ve been…a lighthearted Rosh Hashannah video. Happy New Year!!!!!!!!

Rosh Hashannah video click here!

Rabbinic Preparation

September 17, 2009

The setting for my sermons these High Holy Days is, of course, the world economic crisis. I found so many resources that address the  underlying moral issues that produced this meltdown and couldn’t begin to share them all from the pulpit. One resource I found particularly meaningful is  the Speaking of Faith website. Krista Tippet is doing a remarkable job of asking the really important questions and has access the wisest people of our time to ask them of.  I will be using several of her interviews with people to formulate the basis of my remarks this year but wanted to post this link to a show that started me down the path to the interviews I will use. This show is a talk with Parker Palmer, an amazing Quaker thinker and teacher who has written many books that I have found inspirational. His thoughts on where we are as a society are so helpful as I prepare for the end of Elul and the beginning of Tishrei.

So Far

September 14, 2009

I spent some time with Sara and Paula today working on a wonderful song sent  to me by a friend that feels so much about these days of preparation. It was written by an Israeli artist and is sung by her and two other Israeli artists. Click here to watch…

The Pitfalls of Teshuva

September 13, 2009

We left Selichot services hopefully ready to truly engage in the hard work of teshuva. Now we have to make certain we do it right….

A Bad Apology Is Worse Than No Apology

Apologies are not pass/fail.  I always told my students:  When giving an apology, any performance lower than an A really doesn’t cut it.

Halfhearted or insincere apologies are often worse than not apologizing at all because recipients find them insulting.  If you’ve done something wrong in your dealings with another person, it’s as if there’s an infection in your relationship.  A good apology is like an antibiotic; a bad apology is like rubbing salt in the wound. Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering at September 11th

September 11, 2009

While we approach Selichot we pause to honor that we live in two civilizations – Jewish and American. We honor both from the fullness of who we are. I found this piece very moving and will be sharing it from the bimah tonight. May their memories be for a blessing and may we honor their memories by making blessings of our lives.

How 9/11 Should Be Remembered by Rebecca Solnit