If justice is up to us as God’s people, we must lead with compassion and not anger

By Student Rabbi Remy Liverman

During the Jewish festival of Sukkot, a part of the Jewish High Holy Days, we read from the Book of Exodus where God instructs Moses to chisel new tablets upon which God will engrave the Ten Commandments.

As Moses takes the new tablets up to Mt. Sinai, God reveals His glory to Moses, proclaiming His 13 Attributes of Mercy:

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…. (Exodus 34:6-7).”

The dilemma we face when interpreting this sacred text involves understanding a God of forgiveness, love and compassion and yet also punitive retribution for the guilty.

Read More

Viktor Frankl’s words provide guidance as we search for meaning in time of uncertainty

By Student Rabbi Remy Liverman

Early this year, we observed Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yorn HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day); all addressing tragedy and loss, as well as triumph over suffering and oppression, ending on a note of freedom.

Noting the duality in the way our tradition remembers the past, I considered the stark contrast of my current situation to that of a year earlier, when on Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, I stood still on King David Street in Jerusalem as sirens blared for two minutes.

Read More

Every relationship contributes to a deeper wisdom, and farewell is a promise to return

By Student Rabbi Remy Liverman

Since the beginning of the secular New Year, our country has seen a great deal of turmoil. The U.S. is fraught with devastation, loss, anger and grief as we add deep civil unrest to a worldwide pandemic.

I talked about closure during my final sermon to the congregation. Now, as I wish you farewell, I’m reminded that Judaism’s method of saying “goodbye” requires some examination.

The term “goodbye” itself dates to the early modern period (occurring during the late 16th century) stemming from the expression, “God be with you”.

Although we can accept the “God” part, this is not a Jewish traditional farewell. The common term for goodbye in modern Hebrew (as I frequently heard during my year in Israel) is l’hitra’ot, meaning, “see you later.”

Read More

At this year’s Passover seder, we are all the son who does not know how to ask

By Student Rabbi Remy Liverman

As we begin the Hebrew month of Nisan and prepare to celebrate Passover, never before has a discussion about plagues and a deep cleaning of our homes felt more relevant.

These strange and challenging times of COVID-19 would seem to take precedence over holidays. But there is so much we can learn from the seder, both in ritual and narrative.

We ask the Four Questions in Ma Nishtana: “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

Read More