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If Not Now, When?

08/06/2020 10:08:18 AM

Aug6

I don’t think I have felt this unmoored and simultaneously excited about the High Holy Days since 1994, when, as a second-year rabbinic student, I found myself planning for my first High Holy Days in Merced, California. Merced, they say is the gateway to Yosemite, but for me at that time, Merced just represented the gateway to “H” “E”, “Double Hockey Sticks.”

I remember a feeling of dread that was ironically...Read more...

Tisha B'Av in the Age of Covid

07/28/2020 11:06:36 AM

Jul28

Today is the 7th day of the month of Av.  In 2 days from now, the minor Jewish holiday, Tisha b’Av (the 9th of Av) will arrive and with it, an ancient encouragement to live our life differently that day in light of historical tragedies of the Jewish people.  It is taught that the destruction of the First and Second Temples, as well as the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, took place on this date.  It is a date that lives in...Read more...

Tisha B'Av in the Era if Covid

07/28/2020 10:01:33 AM

Jul28

Today is the 7th day of the month of Av.  In 2 days from now, the minor Jewish holiday, Tisha b’Av (the 9th of Av) will arrive and with it, an ancient encouragement to live our life differently that day in light of historical tragedies of the Jewish people.  It is taught that the destruction of the First and Second Temples, as well as the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, took place on this date.  It is a date that lives in...Read more...

The Bush is Burning

07/16/2020 08:37:54 AM

Jul16

What is it that prompts God to appear before Moses?  There are rabbinic tales that suggest he was literally “touched by an angel,” and others that suggest he was chosen long before he was born. However, the Torah text itself may be our best witness.  As Moses is standing before the burning bush, he says to himself,

ג וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֔ה אָסֻֽרָה־נָּ֣א...Read more...

What Matters Most?

07/09/2020 08:05:45 AM

Jul9

Bottom line, the reason why we must declare, “Black Lives Matter!” is because for far too long our society has acted as if they don’t. And yes, I too have found myself barraged by emails and social media posts sharing the examples of BLM protesters, for reasons that still remain unclear to me, engaging in anti-Semitic tirades.  I don’t believe I have to offer you examples, if you are Jewish or express interest in Jewish causes...Read more...

Trapezing from One Hold to the Next

06/25/2020 10:18:30 AM

Jun25

It’s usually just we rabbis who are fretting over the high holidays in June. However, that is definitely not the case today, at least for quite a few people in the Jewish community, locally and nationwide. I haven’t been following this in countries like England or Israel, but I know that the questions of the where, when and how of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this year have been filling quite a few articles, congregational newsletters and...Read more...

Bidding "Shalom" to Aunt Jemima

06/18/2020 07:29:12 AM

Jun18

And now a word from our sponsor…

 

I know that much of the “real estate” of this blog, of late, has been comprised of musings and analysis (hopefully more of the latter than the former) on important and salient current topics. While COVID and racism remain crucial issues that are framing much of our day to day experience, I thought it would be a good momentary detour to talk about Hebrew!  (Don’t worry, as I...Read more...

"All the Rest is Commentary"

06/11/2020 08:01:59 AM

Jun11

The struggle that I know runs through many people’s minds, people who can walk the streets without fear of interruption, or interrogation or even notice by the police, and so therefore have little or no experience with presuming a negative interaction with the police, challenges one’s heart of hearts to give...Read more...

Mit in drinnen

06/04/2020 11:30:03 AM

Jun4

Mit in drinnen – In Yiddish, this means, “In the middle of everything,”  I don’t know if, for today, this refers to Racial Injustice and Protests in the midst of COVID-19, or as it has felt to me over the past week, COVID-19 in the midst of racial injustice and protests.  Whichever it is, this blog is a clarion call to us all that WE ARE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS with either.  I don’t need to articulate for you the stark...Read more...

Modern Lynchings

05/28/2020 11:39:40 AM

May28

When does the story of the Exodus begin?  Some might say, the tenth plague, others, the burning bush, but I would argue it was the moment when Moses sees the taskmaster beating the Israelite slave, approaches the taskmaster and kills him in the slave’s defense.  Moses is transformed, and the ramp up to...Read more...

Flying into the Wilderness

05/21/2020 08:51:26 AM

May21

I am writing this blog from 30,000 feet.  And I have to share that this experience, thus far, hasn’t been nearly as awful as some in the news media and many on social media are making it out to be.  From the moment I entered the Birmingham airport, most everyone was wearing a mask and by the time we got to TSA, everyone was.  The process was easier than it usually is, the line moved quite quickly AND we didn’t have to take...Read more...

Trust Your Gut  - Except When You're Wrong - Humility  implores us to accept that we are wrong  much of the time

03/18/2020 05:27:03 PM

Mar18

The word shanah in Hebrew means, “year.”  Thus Rosh Hashanah, of course, literally means, “Head of the year.” However, when we look deeper into the word, shanah, we find that at its root, it means, “change.”  And that in essence, more than “head,” rosh can refer to what is in the head, wisdom.  “Rosh Hashanah” can thus come to mean, “The wisdom to change.”  We find this same theme in the Hebrew word...Read more...

Pure-El

03/05/2020 09:02:19 AM

Mar5

“Wash your hands after going to the bathroom

Wash your hands after changing baby too

Cause you don’t want to spread hepatitis

And we don’t want hepatitis to get you”

 

I had never heard, or even heard of, this jingle until I heard Natalie sing it aloud, right about the time we had babies in diapers.  I think it was her subtle way of reminding parents, siblings, our nannies, of the...Read more...

Rorschach Test

02/26/2020 07:01:10 AM

Feb26

“When I was a professor at a right-leaning college, I was accused of being a self-hating leftist Jew.  Now that I am a professor at a left-leaning college, I am accused of being a Zionist conspirator.”  These words from our fantastic Scholar in Residence last weekend, Dr. Marc Dollinger, have rung in my ears ever since I heard them articulated. 

For so much of our modern history, Jews and Judaism have served as the...Read more...

Unity Prayer for the Johnson Rayburn Richards Harris County Democratic Party Dinner 2020

02/18/2020 09:36:23 AM

Feb18

Rabbi Scott

God, Divine One, Force that animates us all, You are the One who calls upon us, your human partners in repairing the world, declaring to us, “Chazak v’amatz!”  “Be strong and resolute” that in our convictions, we are able to muster both the energy to call out the ills of our society, our communities, and ourselves, as well as the conviction, that even when facing harsh critique, we stand firm.  God, Source of all life, the...Read more...

"Scotty" with Moshe at Camp Swig

02/12/2020 02:10:54 PM

Feb12

Timeframe: July c. 1985

Location: Camp Swig, Saratoga, CA

Milieu: a hot summer camp cabin with no A.C., a bunch of teenagers sitting and lying on their bunks, waiting for “Menuchah” (rest hour) to be over

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

 Read more...

Vote Your Conscience

02/05/2020 09:05:58 AM

Feb5

For far too many Jews, Jewish families and those who love them, “Israel” has become a highly polarizing issue.  Positions driven by “survival instincts” set against the horrific history of anti-Semitism weigh heavily against positions driven by the “Prophetic vision” mapped out by Israel’s Declaration of Independence.  While the two shouldn’t have to be set against each other, too often politics favors the...Read more...

A Minor Distraction

01/29/2020 12:33:33 PM

Jan29

Dear Houston,

Some of you may have received (or at least heard about) a survey sent to all HISD parents, asking folks to vote on the date of the 2020 Fall holiday.  Since I moved to Houston in 2011, I have understood that this day has purposefully been scheduled for either Rosh Hashanah day or Yom Kippur day.  From this Rabbi’s perspective, it had always struck me as quite sensitive and endearing that this was the process...Read more...

Indigenous Post Astros Depression - "IPAD"

01/22/2020 12:28:51 PM

Jan22

Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss

Dateline: Houston, TX

Indigenous Post Astros Depression or “IPAD” for short is striking a growing number of Houstonians. This is a disease quite different from the “Clutch-City; Choke-City Personality Disorder” that has often led to an overconsumption of ballpark peanuts.  “CCCCPD” causes those infected and often times, those in his/her proximity, to experience a feeling of instability, akin to seasickness.  One...Read more...

Shining a Light on Things "Unlit"

01/14/2020 05:31:57 PM

Jan14

Rabbi Scott

35 years ago, I had an amazing and most memorable summer camp counselor.  The funny thing is that I don’t remember much of anything he said, but I do completely remember the way he made me feel.  “Moshe” made me feel proud and he made me feel smart and he made me feel interesting.  I do remember one thing he said, as vividly as if I heard him say it today.  On a campout, following our kumzitz (camp fire), he led us...Read more...

Ode to Mrs. Button (Prayers for Peace)

01/08/2020 09:32:53 AM

Jan8

Rabbi Scott

Whether or not it is your habit, tonight

Offer a prayer

For soldiers and families at the tip of the spear

On both sides of the fight

For never has there been a battle of souls, in which either side was bereft of innocence

Here we find ourselves again, rattling sabers, and pointing fingers

Who started it? Who drew the first blood? About choices and our apparent lack of them

Doesn’t...Read more...

Dry Humor

01/02/2020 09:24:39 AM

Jan2

A week, 10 days ago, Natalie and I were both working from home, when Natalie rushed upstairs with an announcement that over the years, I have learned to take seriously. “Fire!”, “I smell fire!” she exclaimed, which caused me to jump up and pay attention. We both walked around, trying to draw near to the source, and slowly but surely (well it was quicker than in my recollection), we both drew near to the laundry closet. Opening the...Read more...

An Interfaith Summit of Insignificant Proportions

12/17/2019 05:05:47 PM

Dec17

Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss

“Y’all ready for Christmas?” the repair man asked me the other day.  “Thanks for asking, we’re Jewish, so we celebrate Chanukah,” I replied.  A minute later, having ostensibly had to get up the nerve, the repair man asked me, “So, what is Chanukah?  I mean, is it like Christmas?  How is it different?”  “Well,” I began, “it’s really not like Christmas at all except if you think about it from a...Read more...

What Happens  Now that the "December Dilemma" Seems to be Less so  (a Dilemma)?

12/04/2019 08:43:10 AM

Dec4

Years ago (I can say that, now that I am 50!), Natalie and I were trained as facilitators by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism) for a series of “outreach” programs for interfaith families. A title of one of the most often quoted books for the programs was, “I’m Jewish, You’re Christian, What are the Kids?”  One of the most “heart-wrenching” sessions we were taught to teach and...Read more...

Make Thanksgiving Great Again

11/26/2019 12:56:24 PM

Nov26

(Click HERE to LISTEN to Rabbi Scott read this blog.)

There’s lots of talk of late regarding worries and concerns over the potential negative energy borne out of politics that might ruin our upcoming Thanksgiving meals and gatherings.  On one side, we have the “bleeding heart liberals” overwrought about the MAGA hats that might adorn the heads of family and guests, and on the other side, we have the...Read more...

No Surprise Thanksgiving

11/19/2019 01:19:41 PM

Nov19

Thanksgiving!  For most of us, it is a time to look forward, whether we are in or out of town, to gather with family and friends.  For many, this is an “official” time of year, not any less important than gathering for the High Holy Days or Passover.  It is historically for Jewish families, (at least as far as America is concerned), a very welcomed, secular holiday that doesn’t challenge notions of the “kosherness” of...Read more...

11/19/2019 01:11:18 PM

Nov19

Update this content.

“Keep Jews out of the News”

11/15/2019 03:09:43 PM

Nov15

For much of the 20th and so far in the 21st century, and let’s face it, for most of Jewish existence, the “Oy Gevalts” over our existence have been a constant of Jewish life.  From the new book, The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List, regarding Horseradish, “Let the WASPs have their Worcestershire; leave it to the Jews to turn suffering into a craving.” 

Sociologists and historians, genealogists and...Read more...

The Value of Downtime

11/05/2019 04:34:47 PM

Nov5

Take it from me, this is tough.  It is so much easier to teach than to do.  And when your very nature, is of an “entrepreneurial” design with no pre-existing barometers of success, limits, or boundaries, like so many are today, the concept of “downtime” is a tough one, even for someone who spends so much time thinking about, writing about, guiding others to practice it, as I do.  I want so desperately for you to know...Read more...

A Little Inspiration Never Hurts

10/30/2019 09:12:38 AM

Oct30

I’ll never forget when I heard Malat Wei call his new wheelchair basketball teammate, Abraham Hausman-Weiss, his “brother from another mother,” and even joked around claiming a new last name, “Hausman-Wei!”  Malat had contracted polio as a child when his family survived and barely escaped with their lives from Sudan. Eventually they made their way to Houston, and after few years, Malat joined and played for the Houston Hot...Read more...

Sat, August 8 2020 18 Av 5780