Rabbi Ariel’s Shabbat message is delivered to the congregation in our weekly e-newsletter. You can also use the links below to visit the Rabbi’s blog, Torah for the 21st Century.

Torah for the 21st Century

This too is Torah, and I need to learn it

Shabbat Tetzaveh: Values Are Not Expendable

Posted: February 15, 2019, 9:41 pm
Our parashat hashauva for this week is Tetzaveh, which can literally be translated “tell them what to do.” One reason for the Torah’s powerful presence in our people’s lives over several millennia is the sure sense, explicitly offered, that someone is telling us the right thing to do. If only we had such a plumb … Continue reading

Shabbat Mishpatim: Law and Order

Posted: February 1, 2019, 9:29 pm
The Talmud records that other peoples used to make fun of the Jews, as it was well known in the ancient world already that we had entered into a covenant with HaShem, with all its opportunities and responsibilities, without asking to see the fine print. That was last week; this week, we read many of the … Continue reading

Shabbat VaEra: To Appear, Perchance to be Seen

Posted: January 4, 2019, 8:31 pm
Our parashat hashavua (the week’s Torah text) describes the ultimate I-Thou moment, between Moshe Rabbenu (the way Moses is known in our tradition, as “Moshe our Rabbi”) and HaShem (the way G*d is known in our tradition. Out of respect, the word “adonai” is avoided, in speech and in print, outside of prayer). ‘וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו … Continue reading

Shabbat Shemot: Behind the Mystery, Common Meaning

Posted: December 28, 2018, 7:26 pm
On this Shabbat we begin again to study Sefer Shemot, the Book of Names, as it is called in Hebrew. We know it as the Book of Exodus, after the first major event that takes place within it (the other, of course, being Matan Torah, the gift of Torah). As we are in the third year of the Triennial Cycle, … Continue reading

Upon receiving the Emily Georges Gottfried 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Human Rights Commission of the City of Portland. 

Posted: December 7, 2018, 10:02 pm
A parable from Hasidic Judaism: Once upon a time, the king’s star gazer saw that the grain harvested that year was tainted. Anyone who would eat from it would go mad. “What can we do?” said the king. “It is not possible to destroy the crop, for we do not have enough grain stored to … Continue reading

Shabbat VaYeshev: Minority Status

Posted: November 30, 2018, 10:41 pm
Hanukkah begins on Sunday December 2 at sundown. We always find it in proximity to the parashat hashavua which we study this week, VaYeshev. The word means “he returned” but we might also read it as “here we go again.” One month after the massacre of our fellow Jews joined in Shabbat prayer in Pittsburgh, … Continue reading

Transgender Day of Remembrance: Reflection and Prayer

Posted: November 19, 2018, 10:08 pm
The first independent human act, we are told, was a crossing over of a boundary: from obedience to curiosity, from Eden to the world.  Human life has been marked by transition ever since: from childhood to adulthood, from ignorance to knowing, from solitude to community. My community, the Jewish people, was a tribe that passed … Continue reading

Shabbat VaYetze: Can You See It?

Posted: November 16, 2018, 9:53 pm
Our ancestor Ya’akov, or Jacob as he is called in English, is the most fully developed, most flawed, most human character of all the Matriarchs and Patriarchs of Jewish tradition. Named, basically, for the word “heel” in Hebrew because he was born holding his twin brother Esau’s heel, he acts the part throughout his youth. Just … Continue reading

Shabbat Hayye Sarah: Make It Holy

Posted: November 2, 2018, 5:27 pm
On this Shabbat we will do what we always do, and what Jews in all times and circumstances have done: we will carry on with that which makes our lives meaningful. We will celebrate Shabbat with family of origin and family of choice, and with friends both old, and those newly moved to be with … Continue reading

Praying After Pittsburgh

Posted: November 1, 2018, 3:24 pm
I am a Rabbi who is privileged to serve an intentional community which takes the form of an independent congregation. We are the only Jewish congregation on the east side of Portland Oregon. We are not only independent but young – only 15 years old – and thus tend to carefully think through our every … Continue reading