St. Barnabas Interfaith Gathering: You Are My Neighbor

Hinei Mah Tov U’mah naim, shevet achim gam yachad. How wonderful it is to be here today, to stand beside you, to stand amongst our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters. For at its core, this is our Jewish obligation, to not only stand beside our partners in faith, but to stand WITH you. And that is why I am deeply honored to be here this evening to stand WITH you -- Our Jewish story teaches us over and over again the story of redemption. 36 times in our Torah, in the Five Book...

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Chicago Sinai Torah scrolls

Chicago Sinai Torah scrolls are filled with many stories... But, most recently, I learned that one of our Torah scrolls stands tall in the American History Museum in Washington, DC. Chicago Sinai Torah scrolls are filled with many stories. Not just the stories of the five books of Moses. Or the stories about our students reading from the sacred texts. Not just the story of the journey our Torah scroll made from Selma, Alabama to Washington, DC last summer. But, most recently, I learned that...

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Participation, Patience and Perspective

Hillel says: "Do not separate yourself from the public, and Do not believe in yourself until the day of your death, and Do not judge your friends until you arrive at their place." -Pirkei Avot, The Teachings of our Rabbis, 2:4 Our great sage Hillel lived two thousand years ago. During his day, Rome ruled the known world, and our rabbis struggled to balance their Jewish identity with often oppressive political realities. Facing an empire not known for subtlety, Hillel opted for a different pat...

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Selichot 5777 Preparing for the High Holy Days

This Saturday night marks a solemn observance, selichot. The word itself means “forgiveness”, and selichot marks the formal beginning of our introspective season. As we approach the final days preceding Rosh HaShanah, our calendar would have us focus on the work of turning towards our better selves—in Hebrew, teshuvah—that is the focus of our High Holy Day ritual. As Saturday turns to Sunday, we are meant to turn inwards to contemplate the kinds of people we hope to...

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Being a Parent at My Daughter's Bat Mitzvah

For fifteen years, my place on Shabbat morning was certain: standing next to the bat mitzvah. I made sure all the papers were in place on the pulpit, read the prayers over her shoulder like an excited copilot, placed the yad at its proper place in the weekly portion in the Torah scroll so she could bring the ancient words for life, called up many members of the family for honors and aliyot, and—at the proper moment—turned the bimah over to beaming parents who spoke words of pride...

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Promises of Liberation

This week is framed by the unfulfilled promises of liberation. On April 16, we celebrated Emancipation Day, which marks the anniversary of President Lincoln’s signing the Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, which freed the over 3,000 enslaved individuals who resided in Washington, D.C. On April 22, which is also the 14th of Nissan, we will sit at our Seder tables to commence our annual Passover festival which marks not only the historic liberation of our people from Egyptian oppressi...

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Postings from Paris and Jerusalem

In early 2016, I was honored to participate in the JUF Rabbinic Mission to Paris and Jerusalem. Below are some key posts and pictures that capture all we experienced on this remarkably journey. Hotel deVille Liberte. Ecalite. Fraternite. Today. But in 1242, it was a site for executions. Here the Talmud--actually every copy that could be found in the Jewish community--was burned by French authorities. Difficult history: and this will be a day, and a trip, to confront it. “Miracle C...

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Commentary: Chicagoans Deserve Justice - without delay

I have colleagues in St. Louis who rushed to the front lines of Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 10, 2014, the day after Michael Brown was shot. And I have colleagues who walked the streets of Baltimore after an otherwise-healthy Freddie Gray died April 19 in police custody.  Read Rabbi Limmer's Opinion in the 12/1 Chicago Tribune

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An Argument Against Prescribing whom Reform Rabbis can Marry

"It pains me to think that while being free to officiate at wedding ceremonies that include a non-Jewish partner, my colleagues would have been barred from the rabbinate because they stood under such a huppah themselves."    Read Rabbi Limmer's Opinion in the Haaretz Israeli News Source

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Building Souls: What A Welcoming House of Prayer Means

Rabbi Limmer starts our thinking about interfaith communities with the story of Abraham – and how we and Sarah shared our faith with others. Abraham, as we learn in the Book of Genesis, was called to go forth and be a blessing to all the families of the Earth.  He and Sarah, the founders of our faith, took upon themselves the mission to enrich the world through their understanding of the Divine.  Of course, they desperately hoped for children: the book of Genesis is replete ...

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