You Shall Pursue

March 31, 2013

Out of Egypt

Filed under: Choosing Life, Jewish Communitty — Tags: , , , , — marleyweiner @ 12:48 pm

In our culture there are two quite distinct ways of defining oneself as a Jew. One way is primarily ethnic and secular and arises from the experience of being “other,” of not being Christian in Christian America… But the second sense of Jewishness arises from an attachment to Jewish religious traditions, including lighting the Sabbath candles, celebrating the Passover seder, and singing Hebrew songs.

The Educating Synagogue, Joseph Reimer

The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. A mixed multitude went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.

Exodus 12:37-38

This year was my first year hosting my family’s Passover seder (after many years of leading the seder at my parents house). Because my family is what it is, this year there were more non-Jews than Jews around the table. My mother, my cousin’s wife (who is the daughter of a pastor), my Presbyterian grandparents, my Wiccan roommate, my sister’s Presbyterian boyfriend, and my atheist former-Christian friend all joined the Jews  in making the journey out of Egypt. And today, I am going over to my grandmother’s house with my Jewish dad and sister to help her celebrate the resurrection of Christ with ham and lox and bagels. Welcome to my family!

In large part, I owe my faith to my grandparents. They are the only religious people in my family, they introduced me to scripture and houses of worship at a young age, and they have supported my journey into faith. Granted, my faith is not their faith, but we are family, and I recognize that part of family is things turning out well, but not exactly how you planned.

Intermarriage has been in the news a lot this year (and every year; it’s a contentious issue) but what the naysayers seem to miss is that the ship has already sailed. My family is what Jewish families look like. And it’s not just a matter of praying that somehow the children of these families make it through with a Bar/ Bat Mitzvah and maybe some Jewish summer camp. It’s about the multiplicity of our lives now. We have non-Jewish friends. We have non-Jewish family. And if we reach out to them and make them a part of our celebrations, we are that much stronger as Jews for having to explain our faith and our customs to those whom we love.

The trick is making sure that we, as people, know enough and have enough passion to be able to explain competently. It is not enough in this world to say that Judaism is doing what your parents and grandparents did, without meaning, without understanding, because what if your grandparents did exactly none of it? No, we must actively embrace Judaism, and build memories for ourselves and our children, and seek out the beauty of our tradition, because there is no easy path any more. We must find the path ourselves.

My cousins have a two year old daughter, who is just getting old enough to start to understand things a little bit. This year, I handed her the egg on the seder plate and she tried to crack it on the table. She laughed at the singing. She and her mom hid the afikomen, and then opened the door for Elijah. I think she had fun, although it’s hard to tell sometimes with two-year-olds. She’s the next generation in our complicated family, and I wish nothing for her but love and an understanding of the stories of all of her people.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — marleyweiner @ 9:41 am

Happy Passover everyone!

March 28, 2013

I Wrote a Passover Guest Post!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — marleyweiner @ 10:52 am

It’s about Tarantino, Exodus, and how we can move from a place of vengeance to a place of justice. You can read it here.

March 26, 2013

In Honor of the Supreme Court Deciding on Proposition 8

Filed under: Social Justice — Tags: , — marleyweiner @ 3:50 pm

I think this article sums up my feelings on the subject beautifully.

Because we live in a country where it is still legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in 34 states. That is more than half.

Because we live in a country where 40% of homeless youth are LGBT, many of whom are forced out of their homes when their parents discover their sexual orientation.

Because we live in a country where rhetoric around public assistance still focuses on marriage as the be all end all to help people, especially women with children, escape poverty (and that rhetoric is unhelpful at best, and actively pernicious at worst).

Because we live in a country where the rich give about half as much of their income to charity as the poor do.

It is beyond important that anyone who chooses should be able to make a family, whether that is through marriage or through other means. And everyone, especially those who build non-normative lives and families, deserve respect, dignity, and justice.

March 12, 2013

Reasons that I Love my Rabbinical School, Part Eleventymillion

Filed under: Rabbinical School — Tags: , , , , — marleyweiner @ 5:35 pm

RRA Resolution on Gender Identity

“Whereas, there will soon be openly transgender and gender nonconforming rabbis who are members of the RRA;

“Whereas, there is a long and painful history of employment discrimination in the United States against transgender and gender nonconforming individuals;

“And whereas, the RRA believes in the right to equal employment opportunities for all of its members;

“Therefore be it resolved that the RRA directs its executive director and board to move forward, in cooperation with the RRC and all relevant associated entities, in educating RRA members about issues of gender identity, to urge the Reconstructionist movement to similarly educate its constituency and to adopt policies that will do all that is possible to provide full employment opportunities for transgender and gender nonconforming rabbis, and to explore how the Reconstructionist movement can best influence the wider Jewish and non-Jewish world to welcoming and inclusive of all people, regardless of gender identity.”


See this kids? This is what commitment to ongoing change to support your constituency looks like.

March 8, 2013

Today in Jewish Education and Other Awesome Things

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — marleyweiner @ 9:28 am

The Book of Leviticus is now an iphone game! For those of you who have never read this book, it is one of the hardest books of the Torah to access on a surface level, because of the lack of narrative. And yet, this woman has created an innovative and creative way to get people engaging with the text through technology. I may be using this later in my TaNaKh class with my teenagers.

March 7, 2013

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Filed under: Choosing Life, Spirituality — Tags: , , , — marleyweiner @ 7:10 pm

The beauty and fragility of family narrated by a brilliant kid. I see great things in store for him…

March 6, 2013

Hillel and Building Community for the Unaffiliated

Filed under: Uncategorized — marleyweiner @ 12:42 pm

Here is an interesting article about the re-invention of Hillel, the Jewish community center on college campuses. And here are my thoughts about it.

Most Jewish young adults go to college. For them, this is their first time on their own making decisions about who they want to be as adults. As such, college campuses are an incredible chance to give young Jews the tools they need to be informed, enthusiastic, proud Jews. And I think that Schiller is very smart to give college students a greater sense of ownership over their Hillel experience.

Our challenge as communal professionals is that we are the scant few where Judaism speaks to us in its current iteration. For some of us, Judaism speaks to us DESPITE its current iteration. We have the tenacity to seek out the small communities, minyanim, study groups, and conferences that promote a lush, flourishing Judaism so different from the tepid mainstream. Most Jews are not going to have enough commitment and bone-headed stubbornness to go seek those pockets and corners out. They see the mediocrity of the mainstream and think to themselves “this is not for me.” And it is not our job to lord it over them that no, really, if you just listen to us and do things our way, you will discover something that really works for you!

As our community grows and changes, it must grow from the bottom up. I teach teenagers, some of whom will be college students in a matter of months. Young Jews have LOTS of questions about Judaism if you give them the space to ask those questions. Their yearning is real, and their insights are often, well, insightful. They often know what they want, and just need the support and the education to go out and get it. As rabbis, we are supposed to be teachers first and foremost. Seeking out people’s questions, desires, confusions, and the deep secret places of their heart and showing them that there is a way for them to make their dreams real. It is not our job to dictate what people must want; that is a sure step to driving people away. Rather, we must give them room and support to see that this community can accommodate them in all their contradictions, fears, and religious struggles. Once people feel like they belong, then they will truly belong.


March 5, 2013

Income Inequality in America

Filed under: Social Justice — Tags: , , , , — marleyweiner @ 12:02 pm

This is a really good graphical representation of some really horrifying shit.

March 4, 2013

Amanda Palmer’s TED talk

Filed under: Choosing Life — Tags: , , , — marleyweiner @ 7:36 pm

The Jewish community has a lot to learn from Amanda Palmer.

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