Published April 29, 2021 by the JCC Association Since the pandemic, I’ve heard many people remark on how time itself feels different. Sometimes it feels that things that happened recently feel longer ago, and sometimes things that took place a year ago feel like they only just happened. Whatever markers we use for our sense of the passage of time seem not to be working as well for us as they were in the “before times.” There’s a passage in Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23) that can help us understand why we might feel this way. Leviticus chapter 23:1 talks of the annual holidays as both fixed in time and needing to be proclaimed by Israel Read More
Published February 18, 2021 by Times of Israel “Unless this is done, I declare unhesitatingly that traditional Judaism will not survive another generation in this country.” The “this” in the quote above refers to change, and the words come from Solomon Schechter’s address at the founding of the United Synagogue in 1913. What were Schechter’s radical reforms, integral to the survival of Judaism? Sermons in English, “scientific” methods of rabbinic training, and “order and decorum” in the synagogue. These, on the whole, have been addressed over the last century. Yet Schechter’s sentiment that our institutions must change if they are to survive is, once again, exactly right. Read More
Dvar Torah given at Ramah Darom March 29, 2021 Hag Sameah! It is so good to be here together! Two years ago, when those of us who were here at Ramah Darom said goodbye to one another we had little idea of what the past year would be like. Given everything, to be able to stand here, in this place, at this time feels miraculous. ברוך הטוב והמטיב- Blessed is the one who is good and who causes good to happen. Thanks also to the excellent staff at Ramah Darom who persisted in finding a way for us to be together. And thanks to each of you who for taking the decisions and following the protocols so that we could be part of this special Passover at Ramah Darom community together. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the formative communal experiences that shape whole generations. I suspect that this time of pandemic is such an experience. For our ancestors, the experience of slavery in Egypt and the liberation of our people was another such experience for their generation and its influence has endured until today. As just one example, more than a couple dozen times in the Torah we
Jewish Life TV Show (November 20, 2020), featuring Rabbi Ashira Konigsburg, Chief Operating Officer at the Rabbinical Assembly; Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin, rabbi of Am Yisrael, a Conservative Synagogue in Northfield, IL; Sarrae Crane, Executive Director of Mercaz USA; Rakefet Ginsberg, Director of the Masorti Movement in Israel
JCPA Panel Discussion (September 30, 2020), featuring: Rabbi Ashira Konigsburg, Chief Operating Officer, Rabbinical Assembly; Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Rabbi Moshe Hauer, Executive Vice President, Orthodox Union; Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President, Reconstructing Judaism, moderator: Corey Shapiro, JCPA Board of Directors
I was invited to give some thoughts on Rosh Hashanah on Rosner’s Torah Talk at the Jewish Journal. May this new year bring us opportunties for personal change and connection with one another.
Published August 11, 2020 by Times of Israel Jewish communal leaders have a lot of their shoulders right now. They are in the midst of trying to plan high holiday services, determining whether and how to open schools, recalculating budgets and staffing structures and so much more. At stake is nothing less than the physical wellbeing of our people and the future of Jewish communal life. Read More
Published June 2, 2020 by The Jewish Theological Seminary Naso opens up with a census of the Levites, who will be responsible for transporting parts of the Mishkan. Num. 4:3 specifies that those who will be engaged in this work are to be between the ages of 30 and 50 and fit for service when the Mishkan is operating. At first glance, the details of which family is to carry which piece of equipment seem trivial at best. Read More
Today we were privileged to name our daughter. Heres the PDF of the ceremony and below is an explanation for her name: Ashira: Arya Na’ama- your first name Arya is Babylonian Aramaic for lion, אריא. In English we are spelling it A.R.Y.A. There are so many reasons why we picked this name for you. First of all, you’re named for your great grandfather Leonard Konigsburg. Leonard means lionhearted and his hebrew name אליעזר starts with aleph hence אריא. Your great grandfather, my sabba would have loved so much to have been able to meet you. Unfortunately he died the year your abba and I got engaged, 11 years ago. Even so, we still feel the strong impact he had on our family.
Dvar Torah given at Kehilat Hadar June 2, 2018 הָאִ֥ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה עָנָ֣ו מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃ Now Moses was very humble, more so than any other person on the face of the earth. This verse from our parashah has always bothered me for a number of reasons: Why tell us this in context is when Moses’s siblings are gossiping about his Kushite wife? Moshe meets with heads of state and has face-to-face conversations with God. The theme of humility doesn’t really fit in here. The phrasing, most humble man on the face of the earth is particularly jarring. Even saying “very humble” feels at cross purposes with the idea of humility. If you believe that Moshe wrote down the Torah this feels even more incongruous. If Moses was actually humble, would he really have written this verse about himself? Is this even true? Was there no other person on the planet as humble as Moses? How would anyone know?