The Vitality of Feeling: Teshuva in a Broken World - Rabbi Adina's Yom Kippur Drash

How do we deal with wrongs committed against those whom we don’t know personally, whom we can’t - and should not - seek out for forgiveness, but whose suffering we’ve witnessed and and in some way contributed to either directly or indirectly through the strands that weave us together in this inescapable web of interconnection?

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What childbirth teaches us about counting the Omer

By Rabbi Adina Allen
Passover marks the birth of our liberation, Shavuot, its culmination. Our counting focuses our attention on the importance of the days in between. What would it mean for us to take that which we birthed in the process of liberation at Passover as seriously as the yoledet takes her tasks?

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The Holiness of Purim Lies in Glitz, Glam and Color

By Rabbi Adina Allen

“Holy holy holy is the Lord of hosts!” Chanting these words in the Kedushah, we stand, feet together, mimicking the angles on high. As we press up onto our toes, yearning for that Divine connection, we take on the posture of these pure, ethereal beings without physical characteristics that exist only in spirit.

Our conception of holiness often follows on this track, conjuring images of those things pure, simple, beyond the mundanity of the physical world. Our most sacred holiday is often considered to be Yom Kippur — a day on which we wear a plain white ceremonial robe known as a kittel — and which we prepare for by dunking in the mikvah, ritual bathing that requires us to peel away all outer layers (clothes, makeup, jewelry) so as to enter the waters as unadorned as the day we were born.

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Dreaming the World into Being - Parshat Miketz

By Rabbi Adina Allen

Sleep is the place of nightmares. It also the realm of dreams.  According to the Talmud, dreams are one sixtieth of prophecy (Berachot 57b). Maimonides, in his Guide for the Perplexed, writes that through dreams the imaginative faculty is awakened, without which prophecy is impossible (3.36-8).

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Will We Listen? (Parshat Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)

By Rabbi Adina Allen

In this week’s parsha, Moses sets two paths before the Israelites as they prepare to enter the land. Introducing these two paths, Moses says, “If you listen, listen to the voice of Adonai your God” all blessings will follow, however, “if you do not listen to God’s voice” then every curse will ensue. What is the voice of God and what does it mean to listen to this voice?

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Is, Was, Will Be

By Rabbi Adina Allen

The name of God in the Jewish tradition is comprised of four Hebrew letters: yud, hey, vav hey. Unpronounceable, this grouping of letters amounts to the impossible conjugation of the verb “to be” and, if it could be translated at all, it might be read as “is, was, will be.” This name contains the promise and challenge of Judaism: to engage the past in a way that welcomes the full reality of the present so that the future may be beautiful beyond our wildest imagination. Tradition gifts us many tools to navigate this path. One of the most powerful is creative reinterpretation — chidushChidush, from the Hebrew root chadash, meaning “new,” refers to an original insight on a passage of Jewish text.

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The Blossoming of the Beloved Community (Parshat Korach, Numbers 16:1-18:32)

By Rabbi Adina Allen

As this week’s parsha begins, Korach—along with 250 chieftains of the community—criticizes Moses and Aaron for devising a system of religious practice in which only a select few are designated for Divine service. Where there was once an unmediated relationship, there are now layers—both physical and metaphorical—between the majority of the people and God. “Kol ha edah kula kedoshim u’bitocham Adonai—All of the community is holy, all of them, and the Divine is within/among them,” Korach and his followers assert. “Why then do you raise yourselves above the community?”

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The Art of Liberation (Shabbat Chol haMoed Pesach, Exodus 33:12 - 34:26)

The Haggadah tells of our people’s journey from the suffering of slavery to our wild, sea-splitting-open redemption. Around the seder table last week, our observance of the holiday began with a question: “How is this night different from all other nights?: As we discuss and unfurl into our newfound freedom, our questions about the particular night of Passover blossom into new and potent questions about the days and nights that lie ahead.

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