Growing Toward God: Jewish Movement through an Axial Age

Just as plants are heliotropic beings that grow toward the sun, we humans are theotropic beings that grow toward God. And just as a tree doesn’t have to understand the sun to feel it and be fed by it, we don’t have to understand God to be nourished by subtle sacred influences.

High Holy Days in the Hospital

“On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed. Who shall live and who shall die, who shall perish by fire and who by water, who by Roman soldier and who by cancer…”

“No, that’s not how it goes,” I wearily chided myself from my hospital bed. I knew I was making up my own words. But alone in the wee hours of the morning, as the High Holidays approached, that was the best rendition of the Unetanah Tokef (the central prayer of the High Holiday service) that I could muster. And my brother Jeffrey later told me that spending the eve of Yom Kippur with me in the hospital was the most meaningful Yom Kippur of his life.

Who Can Be Commanded?: Disability in Jewish Thought and Culture

Recently two dear friends asked me to advise them about their pregnant daughter, who just discovered that her fetus has Noonan syndrome, a genetic condition that can result in heart defects, unusual facial features, short stature, and learning problems. The pregnant daughter wanted to keep the child, but her husband was afraid that the child would have a difficult life and was concerned about possible consequences for the rest of the family. My friends presented the possibility of abortion in this case as a Jewish legal question. May a person, they asked, decide over life and death? What is our responsibility to act on this, and where are the limits? My reply:
Though such children have a difficult path to follow, yet it is a life with many possibilities for fulfilment.

Both Wilderness and Promised Land: How Torah Grows When Read Through LGBTQ Eyes

B’reishit—in the beginning of the Torah, and the beginning of the world—there was God, a very queer God. Unlike other deities described in Iron Age texts, this God didn’t have a form or face or identifiable role in the natural world. In other Iron Age creation stories, deities are action heroes, creating order out of chaos by slaying monsters, other deities, and occasionally their parents. In Genesis, God brings order out of chaos simply by speaking. No blood, no pantheon, no rivals, no triumphs to portray on temple walls, nothing to visualize or imagine.

When Strangers Read My Body: Blurred Boundaries and the Search for Something Spiritual

The encounter was not all that different from others I’ve had on the street—a rupture in my peace of mind. It was well past midnight, and I walked the streets alone, delighted to bask in the warmth of a productive day. A figure came into focus, dressed in colors dark as the night. At first the stranger’s words were muted by the music blaring through my headphones—my temporary barrier against the many interlocutors who feel entitled to interaction once they notice my limp. This visibility is something I cannot hide, and I don’t attempt to do so.

God on Wheels: Disability and Jewish Feminist Theology

At kiddush one day, I was welcoming a visitor to synagogue when she popped the question. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked as her eyes flicked from my face to my wheels. I’ve been asked this question in an astounding array of inappropriate venues; I didn’t flinch. “I have a disability,” I said, though it was plain she’d already noticed. A firm full stop followed that statement, though I knew full well I didn’t answer her question.

Confronting the Corporate Expediter: Building the Religious Counterculture

So I’m at a dinner party chatting with the guy sitting next to me, and he asks me what I do for a living. I tell him all about ministry, and then I ask him what he does for a living. “I’m an expediter,” he says. “An expediter,” I say, “I’ve always been curious about this. What exactly is an expediter?”

“I help companies do their business.