Temporary time of social isolation creates opportunity for ‘togetherness while apart’

By Student Rabbi Remy Liverman

Since I began as your student rabbi this past September, these monthly columns for my beloved congregants at United Hebrew Congregation have offered a breath of fresh air from the arduous papers assigned in rabbinical school.

But most importantly, this space has served as an outlet to express precepts our tradition teaches in relation to our everyday lives. I have found deep joy in the hope that my words might provide comfort, significance or an opportunity for learning.

Lately, however, I have struggled to compose thoughts that might bring meaning to your lives and the lives of your loved ones, amidst the challenges we all face daily during this pandemic.

Read More

In pursuit of justice, we must teach our children the facts of intolerance and discrimination

By Student Rabbi Remy Liverman

During my first semester in graduate school, I took a class on religion and politics. My professor practiced the Muslim faith. The morning after the 2016 presidential elections, he shared with the class that his six-year-old daughter had asked him over breakfast, “Daddy, today at school, should I tell people I’m not Muslim if they ask me?”

During a discussion on Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness as part of a new social and racial justice program at The Temple in Atlanta, a woman described what she taught her children about “the protocol for being pulled over as a black person by the police.”

I am not a parent, and I do not judge any of these mothers and fathers for the way they answered their children’s questions or instructed them on how to behave in specific instances.

Read More

Mi Shebeirach directs hope for strength and restoration to our loved ones, and to ourselves

Bu Student Rabbi Remy Liverman

Prayers for healing are deeply embedded in our Jewish liturgy and tradition. The practice began with the holy words Moses prayed to God after his sister Miriam had been stricken with the affliction of tzara’at.

Moses pleaded: El na, refa na la — “Please God, heal her” (Numbers 12:13).

When we join together for Kabbalat Shabbat, we pause during our service to include the Mi Shebeirach, our communal prayer for healing.

Continuing to recite this prayer during services spreads the support to the larger community. This act of chesed sends the message that those who suffer are not alone.

Read More

Keep the past in perspective and avoid the trap of ‘hindsight bias’

By Student Rabbi Remy Liverman

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah have all come and gone in the whirlwind of Jewish High Holy Days that filled our days in the month of Tishrei.

We have spent ample time considering our return from past transgressions and are ready with steady hands to go boldly into the new year.

More than ever, though, I feel a sense of longing for the High Holy Days and apprehension at the thought that the Book of Life has been sealed for another Jewish calendar year.

Read More