Archive for ‘Religion’

October 18th, 2023

Sometimes silence is golden

For Artnet News, I wrote an opinion piece headlined as:

Enough With the Solidarity Statements. Why Art Institutions Should Stop Taking Positions on Geopolitical Events They Have Nothing to Do With

I am grateful to Artnet for their quick response and helpful edits, and very happy to have this published. I think (alas) that as an issue, this is not going away any time soon.

September 29th, 2017

Veterans for Kaepernick

I find Yom Kippur to be a very personal holiday. Not that there aren’t things for which we all might atone in relation to how the outside world functions; kindness in all spheres would certainly make the world a better place. For me, the process of atoning typically means trying to peel myself back from the news and events of the world, from the constant political sniping, and from social media, in order to spend time really thinking about myself, my flaws, and my relationships with the people I care about.

But in typical “just catching up to this” fashion, I just came across the Twitter hashtag . It feels appropriate to call it out on the eve of Yom Kippur, to say thank you to those who have served this country, and in doing so see themselves as protecting the rights of Americans to express themselves, and the rights of Americans to stand up — or kneel — in order to make a point about injustice in our society.

The flag (any flag) is a symbol, and symbols can be powerful; anthems, too, for rousing our emotions. But we should venerate ideas and values, not symbols and anthems. Freedom of speech, and freedom from injustice, are values that can exist under our flag or others–just as there are plenty of nations where flags and anthems receive great and deep respect … but freedom of speech, or simple justice, are both absent.

So thank you, veterans. I did not serve in the military, but I am incredibly grateful to those who did, and for those of you who are brave enough to carry that service forward by supporting peaceful protest. Happy new year and may you, too, be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.

March 24th, 2013

Pascal’s Lamb

In honor of Passover, and for the various (Jewish) math nerds out there, I present: Pascal’s Lamb.

Lambs, following the pattern of Pascal's Triangle

 

Confused? Don’t be:

You’re welcome, and chag sameach.

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October 9th, 2011

Dvar Torah 2011 & 5772

This summer, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky asked me if I would give the dvar Torah on the second day of Rosh Hashanah–in our synagogue, a speaking spot usually reserved for someone from the congregation. I accepted with some trepidation; Torah study hasn’t exactly been my strength. But I looked over the text for that Torah portion (English translation: Va-yera, Genesis 18:1-22:24, though on Rosh Hashanah we read only 22:1-22:24), came up with a couple of ideas, and discussed them with the rabbi.

We settled on one that seemed the strongest: to try to explore the impact of the Akedah, the binding and near-sacrifice of Isaac by his father, Abraham, on Isaac’s psyche and life. What interested me about this idea is that there seems to be so little written about it: both the text and most of the subsequent commentary focus on Abraham, which seems rather unjust given that he’s not the one who nearly lost his life. It’s a terrible and terrifying story–and that might be precisely what makes it good for Rosh Hashanah, day 2.

The complete text of my dvar Torah can be downloaded/opened here as a PDF. Writing this was a great, and challenging, experience. For anyone who is ever offered the chance, I encourage you to accept the offer: it is not only a great honor, but a great opportunity to engage with and think about Judaism (or whatever religion) through a new, different, and very personal lens. That cannot help but enhance its meaning.