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I arrived at the kollel, the house of study (literally – this was a house that had been emptied of everything, including interior walls, and re-purposed as a space for married men to come and study Talmud, Torah and other texts throughout the day) at 7:45pm, the usual time. I found one of the few English-Hebrew siddurs and opened it to the section for afternoon prayers and waited expectantly for the... read more

I Am Here, and I am Not Worthy

Even after a few years through the yearly cycle of liturgy, “traditional” prayer services are still very new to me. Even so, I’ve already found a few of my favorite moments – things I look forward to hearing and savor as they pass. If you are in the right state of mind, the Days of Awe present a lot of those moments. For me, one is the prayer “Hineini” (“Here I... read more

Of Prayers and Potholders

Most weekday mornings I hang out with a great bunch of guys. They are down to earth, come-as-you-are, non-judgemental and yet also passionate about and committed to their Judaism. They appreciate differences. They accept people for where they are in the Jewish spectrum. They also pray like a heavy machinery auctioneer hopped up on a combination of Jolt Cola and 4 shots of triple-espresso. By contrast (at... read more

Jewish Journeys: Imperceptible Motion, Monumental Movement

photo credit: simonsterg We are all on a journey, whether we know it or not. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to notice that we are moving, until we look back: It’s a Saturday morning in March, 2011. I’m standing outside my new home – where lights had been carefully set the night before and will remain unchanged all day –  while my wife locks the door before we enjoy the... read more

When You Have Nobody to Pray For

photo credit: h.koppdelaney At some point during the Shabbat service there comes a moment when the leader stops and invites the congregation to speak the names of people in need of healing. The congregation, having heard those names, keeps those people in their thoughts as a prayer is spoken. The prayer is the Mi Sheberach. It is based on a tersely worded entreaty to God by Moses himself – the... read more

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