Exploring Connections btw Midrash & New Testament

I just had the pleasure of presenting a two-part series on connections between Midrash and New Testament writings to an interfaith audience in Corvallis, Oregon. We met at the Church of the Good Samaritan (Episcopal), and a local synagogue, Congregation Beit Am, co-sponsored the course. (Shout outs to Rev. Simon Justice and Rabbi Benjamin Barnett of the respective congregations!) Members of at least 3 other Christian churches in the area attended as well.

I used PowerPoint slideshows and I think they were really effective.

I’m using my blog to share links to them on Slideshare.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can find them here:

 

I’m interested in getting feedback, or in coming to your community to teach. It works great with a Jewish, Christian, or interfaith group.
thanks!

What I Can Do For You!

As you may already have heard, I’m in the job market. I just want to share, widely, what I think I’m good at, and what kinds of work I’d be excited to do. Happy to talk with folks who may have leads, advice, or opportunities.
I would describe my top skills, experiences, and interests as follows:
  • interfaith collaboration
  • writing, especially for advocacy
  • essays / non-fiction writing / research-based journalistic pieces
  • teaching, especially making complex or often inaccessible cultural or religious ideas understandable to a general audience
  • organizing information and presentations
  • interpersonal communication, including strong people skills and cultural sensitivity skills
  • Hebrew (reading, writing, speaking)
  • French (pretty good but not as good as my Hebrew)
  • public speaking and presentations
  • social entrepreneur capabilities
  • Microsoft office suite, with strong Power Point / multi-media authorship skills
  • Biblical studies, rabbinic studies, and the ability to speak or write drawing on sacred texts
My passions include:
  • Israel/Palestine peacebuilding
  • collaborative business projects that build positive bonds between Palestinians and Israelis
  • Jewish / Muslim coalition building and mutual advocacy
  • LGBT equality
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  • progressive approaches to religion (promoting non-fundamentalist, non-exclusivist,”first-do-no-harm” approaches to all religion)
  • Democratic party politics in the US
  • income inequality / poverty
  • interfaith efforts on issues like undocumented immigrants in the US, environmental advocacy, human rights, etc.
  • supporting and researching interfaith families within the Jewish community (my last job was focused on this work)
I think I’d be a good candidate for jobs like:
  • lead writer / media content developer for an NGO or advocacy organization
  • Executive Director of an organization that would benefit from my strengths, and that would have the staff needed to take the lead in the areas in which I’m inexperiencedcropped-rfk-2.jpg
  • speech writer for political candidates or issue campaigns
  • university chaplain with some teaching duties in religious/Judaic studies
  • Judaic studies prof at a Christian small college (problem: I have no PhD and I need a full-time position)College_row_at_wesleyan
  • being hired to do a big research/writing project (like a book about a neglected historical figure or set of events, or a new curriculum, etc.), especially if it required some travel and use of my language skills.

Our Sukkah without Walls

This year our sukkah is unkosher. It has no walls.

According to traditional Jewish law, a sukkah is supposed to have walls – four of them, actually, though one of them can be the side of a house if it’s been built up against a house. The walls can be made out of any material, but they have to be strong enough to withstand some wind without falling down.

Our sukkah has no walls because, in the midst of many challenges, we didn’t get around to putting them up. But that’s not the only reason. I confess that my wife and I also kind of like the way the sukkah looks and feels inside this way. A sukkah without walls is an appropriate religious symbol for our family.

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Our sukkah this year. As you can see, despite the Oregon Ducks’ train wreck of a loss last week, we continue to welcome them symbolically into our sukkah.

Our nuclear family consists of four people and two dogs. It’s me, a liberal rabbi; Melissa, my spouse, who was my intermarried partner for part of the time I was a rabbinical student, before she converted; and Clarice and Hunter, neither of whom was born Jewish, and both of whom were old enough at the time of the adoption to have the right to decide whether or not to become Jewish. So far, they haven’t, at least not formally. On a day to day basis they alternate between identifying Jewishly and not. So, while neither of our kids identify with another religion, because, at least halakhically (according to Jewish law), they’re not Jewish, we are what gets referred to as an interfaith family.

For me, our sukkah without walls symbolizes Melissa’s and my core value of openness to welcoming the stranger deeply into our home and life. There’s a framework, a structure to our sukkah, as well as a roof made of foliage, and a lulav and an etrog too. Anyone who knows what a sukkah is who saw ours would know that it is a sukkah, or someone’s good try at erecting a proper sukkah. But our sukkah, perhaps inspired by Abraham and Sarah’s tent, is literally open on all sides. Like a sukkah with the traditionally prescribed walls that won’t fall down in a gust of wind, our “open architecture” sukkah also can withstand a gust of wind, but it accomplishes that feat not by resisting the movement of the air with sturdy barriers; rather, the changing winds blow right on through. (Metaphor now fully expressed, and possibly even overdone…)
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