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Showing posts from November, 2016

Mollie, Ishmael and Making Peace

I am thinking about food, family meals and the American bounty we are about to celebrate. My Aunt Mollie comes to mind. I have a particular vivid memory of Aunt Mollie, who was my grandmother’s younger sister. I was approximately eight years old when Aunt Mollie visited our family in St. Louis. Soon after her arrival, the house filled with the smells of stuffed peppers, stuffed artichokes, meatballs, and marinara sauce. She and my mom spent the better part of her visit in the kitchen so that she could teach her favorite niece some of her favorite, and best, recipes. It never occurred to me to wonder how my Aunt Mollie came to master Italian cuisine. (Actually I never thought much about such culinary distinctions. It was all part of my family’s cuisine.) Some years later the secret was revealed. When Mollie was sixteen years old she ran away from home and married Joe Ladisio, an Italian man some 25 years her senior. Imagine that! The Greenberg family came to this coun

Paved with Gold

I retreat to the Torah. It is a welcome distraction from the news and our country’s painful divisions. This week we read about the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. They are marked by sinfulness. As in the story of Noah, God decides to start all over and destroy these cities. Again God shares the plan with a chosen, and trusted, person. This time it is Abraham. God says, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (Genesis 18:17) God reveals the plan to Abraham. But Abraham pleads in behalf of the people. Abraham argues (and negotiates) with God exacting a promise that if ten righteous people can be found then the cities should be saved. In the end Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. By the way, some suggest this number ten is the origin of ten for a minyan. And yet the Torah is unclear about what they did that was so terrible. What were their sins? We are given only hints. “The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave!” (

Like It or Not, It's Still Mr. President

Let me offer three observations about the election now concluded and our soon to be 45th president, Donald Trump. 1. Despite the overwhelming victory for Republican candidates, we are a divided nation. Look to the popular vote. In 2008 President Obama defeated Senator McCain by some ten million votes. In 2012 he won by approximately five million. Secretary Clinton won by less than 200,000 votes, as of this writing. I have read many commentators, and protestors, who now wish to do away with the Electoral College because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. They comfort themselves by saying that if you factor in the approximate five million votes for third party candidates you realize the majority of Americans did not vote for Donald Trump. They leave out the fact that the majority of Americans did not then vote for Clinton as well. For me I read these numbers as evidence of how divided we are. 200,000 out of 60 million is no victory. We are a divided nation. There are some 60 mil

American Dreaming

The Internet is an angry place. I find myself retreating to my dreams. And I am dreaming about my grandfather. In my grandfather’s final week, after he was hospitalized by a stroke, I would read the day’s newspapers to him. I would first read the headlines. He would then indicate which article I was to read out loud, with the specific instruction that I always read the designated article to the very last sentence. We would then discuss the article. We would analyze it. We would sometimes disagree. More often than not I would listen to his thoughts, to the wisdom of his 86 years, to his many years living in this country and taking in the American political scene. Today I would not know where to begin.... This post continues on The Wisdom Daily.

God's Mirror

When does a child become self-aware? When a child first sees himself in a mirror he touches the mirror. He does not know it is his reflection. Later, around the age of two, when the child looks in the mirror she instead touches her face. In that moment her self-identity begins to take shape. The child says, “I.” Self-awareness begins to form. In Hebrew “Ani” means “I.” This word does not appear in the Torah until this week. There appears little self-awareness exhibited by Adam and Eve, who are unaware of their nakedness and blame each other, as well as God, for their own failings. There is plenty of “you” but no “I.” Cain and Abel are so lacking in introspection that they do not understand the pain they cause each other, leading to the first murder. And then the “I” appears.... This post continues on Patheos.