Companionship or Death

January 9, 2019

As we approach Tu B’shvat, I am reminded of the story of Honi Hamagil, Honi the Circle-Maker and the carob tree. Honi lived in Israel around the year 100 BCE. He was a shaman and a miracle-worker.  He’s called “the Circle-Maker” because in times of drought he would draw a circle, stand in it and […]

Hanukkah and Hypocrisy

December 5, 2018

Just a few days ago the New York Times published an article about Hanukkah with the following headline: “Hypocrisy of Hanukkah: It’s a holiday that commemorates an ancient battle against assimilation. And it’s the one holiday that most assimilated Jews celebrate.” More interesting than the title is its point that the heroes in the story, […]

Another Day

November 29, 2018

By Rabbi George Gittleman It was a day like any other with the usual raft of email, follow-up phone calls, community building and program planning, a bar mitzvah lesson and a meeting with synagogue staff and then an emergency. “I’ll come now. It will take me about a half hour to get there. I’ll see […]

Silence and Healing

May 11, 2018

I’m writing this on the plane back from a seven-day silent retreat offered by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. It’s the first of three I will attend as part of a Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teachers program. The retreat was at Isabella Freedman, a rustic but beautiful Jewish camp, built around a small lake in New England’s […]

A Lesson in Hope

March 20, 2018

When you think about all the challenges we face, it is easy to be cynical or just give up. Remaining hopeful in a world where so much seems out of our control and where we know so much is an essential spiritual challenge. Thank God for Pesach because Pesach is a lesson in hope. It’s all in this story… […]

Trees and Hope: A Tu BiSh’vat Reflection

January 23, 2018

  There is hope for a tree; If it is cut down it will renew itself; Its shoots will not cease. — Job 14:7-9 The wind and the smell of smoke woke us. We stumbled out of bed and joined our neighbors in the cul-de-sac to stare at the raw, red glow lighting up the […]

What We Take With Us

November 8, 2017

Rabbi George’s talk, “What we take from our homes when we flee for our lives”, was delivered as part of the interfaith healing service at The Center for Spiritual Living a week after the fire: The wind woke Laura up. She smelled smoke, walked out our front door into the court and saw the fire […]

Mourning the Fire

October 27, 2017

Over the past week, I came to the realization that the dominant framework for what we are all experiencing after the fires is loss, grief and mourning, as if someone or something died. When we lose a loved one, shock and bewilderment come first. Next, comes brain fog – “Why can’t I think straight!” –, […]


August 16, 2017

The conflagration of hate and bigotry in Virginia is appalling but not surprising; Trump’s cozy relationship with members of the alt-right (think Steve Bannon) and his inflammatory language has emboldened the haters and bullies in our country. Half-hearted in his condemnation of the perpetrators, the President ultimately defended the “very fine people” who marched alongside […]

Rabbi Michael Was Larger Than Life

August 14, 2017

These remarks were originally delivered at a conference of Reform Rabbis (PAR) in Palm Springs, the year of his death in 2006. Michael Robinson was bigger than life in many ways. He was a tall man, well over 6 feet. I’m 5’ 10” and when we hugged, my head rested on his chest. He was […]