Marley, Reggae and Passover

April 17, 2019

   With Passover just a few days away, I am thinking about Bob Marley. I fell in love with Bob Marley’s music before I fell in love with Judaism. I was a freshman in college at the University of Vermont, a long way from my home in Louisville, Kentucky and even farther from Kingston, Jamaica […]

Freedom is an Inside Job

March 27, 2019

With Passover around the corner, my mind naturally turns towards its many themes. This year I am especially interested in how we can relate Passover to our inner lives. The story of the Exodus from Egypt that we retell at Pesach is rich with metaphor. Many years ago, my colleague and close friend Rabbi Margaret […]

Freedom is an Inside Job

March 7, 2019

With Passover around the corner, my mind naturally turns towards its many themes. This year I am especially interested in how we can relate Passover to our inner lives. The story of the Exodus from Egypt that we retell at Pesach is rich with metaphor. Many years ago, my colleague and close friend Rabbi Margaret […]

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 […]