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 […]

Baseless Hatred

November 26, 2018

The destructions of the first and second temples in Jerusalem are seen as two of the most devastating events in Jewish history. Rabbinic literature and tradition draw a direct line between sinat chinam, baseless hatred, and the destruction of these temples. We read a story in the Talmud about two men with similar names, Kamsa […]

Insights from Israel

August 21, 2018

After landing in Ben Gurion in June, my first four days were spent on an Encounter trip. Encounter is a nonpartisan educational organization cultivating more informed and constructive Jewish leadership on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The program I was invited to participate in was for North American Jewish Leadership. Before the trip started, we had two […]

Dear Micah and Noa —

July 19, 2018

I can’t believe summer has come and the time for our big adventure is finally here. You’re so lucky that you get to experience Israel for the first time at four and eight. I hope you will behave on the flight from San Francisco to Tel Aviv. Please, watch, as many movies as you want, don’t […]

The Glass is More than Half Full!

June 20, 2018

As I packed the trunk and buckled the kids in and set off for Camp Newman by the Bay, it dawned on me that this would be the longest drive I have ever taken to Camp Newman. Until this summer I have been the most blessed rabbi living only ten minutes from camp, my home […]

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… […]

Passover is Coming

February 21, 2018

Passover is steeped with many lessons, all of which are relevant in the 21st century. Most years, when thinking about the symbolism of the seder plate, I focus on the sweetness of the escape from slavery while eating charoset, the complicated tears while dipping parsley into salt water, the smearing of the lamb’s blood while lifting up the […]