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Selected Drashot from Rabbi Mike

Sh'lach L'cha 5778 -  “How to Go On When You Know You're Not Going On to the Promised Land” 

June 8, 2018

If you know anything about the Torah, you probably know that the Israelites wandered for 40 years in the desert on the way to the Promised Land.

And if you’ve spent any time around synagogues, you’ve probably heard the old joke about why they wandered for 40 years.

Because Moses, being a man, refused to ask for directions.

You can see why it’s a well-known joke.  Pretty good...Read more...

Kedoshim 5778 - “God Knows” 

April 27, 2018

On a Sunday night in February I got an urgent email. It was from a cantor in Haverill, Vera Broekhuysen asking for religious folks to show up at the ICE office in Burlington. We were needed to stand in solidarity with a man named Jacob from the Caribbean island country of St. Lucia, who was in danger of being deported after almost 20 years of living in this country.

Now Monday is my day off, so I wasn’t exactly...Read more...

Toldot 5778 - “May I Ask Who’s Calling?” 

November 17, 2017

I will never know what it’s like to be pregnant.

But I do know what it’s like to be pregnant in the Torah.

At least I know what it’s like for Rebekah to be pregnant in the Torah.

In a word, “lousy.”

This week’s Torah portion, from the book of Genesis, is called Toldot. In it, we find the story of Rebekah’s sons Jacob and Esau, the famous fraternal, and (in time) fratricidal...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5778 Day Two - “We do not enjoy the protection of that country any longer”

September 22, 2017

The Suffolk County jail, in South Boston, looks like a lot of the other buildings around it.  The neighborhood is a concrete and brick complex of brutal buildings, neglected parking lots, rutted roads.  Lots of warehouses. 

Except, of course, that the jail is a warehouse not for property, but people. 

You might expect the facility to house violent criminals, thieves, troublemakers. ...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5778 Day One - “Crying Out — Reviving God”

September 21, 2017

Excuse me.  I’d like to speak to the manager?

My husband Anthony grew up in a military family in Texas and the Bay Area.  I grew up just north of Manhattan, among New York Jews.

The difference in our upbringing, I think, is most palpable when we sit down in a restaurant.  Anthony, given the choice, is happy sit wherever.

Me?  Well — I try to be polite.

Now I know that...Read more...

Ki Teitze 5777 - “Man Makes the Clothes”

September 1, 2017

My first Hebrew professor was named Rivkah*. She wore denim skirts, spoke with an Israeli accent, always looked a little farblonged, and was brilliant. Teaching both clueless American Jews and grammar-challenged Israelis looking for an easy A, Rivkah made even the most complex grammar rules seem accessible.

And so — my apologies in advance — here’s where the grammar lesson comes in.

Like in...Read more...

Matot/Masei 5777 - “I’d like to have an argument please”

July 21, 2017

As I meet more people here, I’ve found that folks at Beth Elohim hold a wide variety of jobs.   We have some schoolteachers, a few doctors, some lawyers.  But what we seem to have a LOT of is science people.  Computer people.  Biotech people, chemists, and all that. And engineers.

People that secretly walk around this place with a Ph.D.  Or two.

You may know one of those...Read more...

Rabbi Mike’s first drash: Balak 5777 - “Mah Tovu: So much goodness in these tents”

July 7, 2017

OK, so to answer your questions:

1) Yes, I’m unpacked and moved into the office;

2) Yes, I’ve driven in snow before, and;

3) Yes, I know the weather here is worse than in California.

So why am I here?

More about that later.

First, I want to talk about the star of this week’s Torah portion, a guy named Balaam. 

The best-known part of Balaam’s story is that he...Read more...

Sat, July 24 2021 15 Av 5781