Beantown Jewish Gardens: You Spoke, We Listened

I have had the pleasure of being involved with Beantown Jewish Gardens since moving to Boston in 2012. I wrote the following letter on behalf of the Board of Directors of this nonprofit following the initiation of a strategic planning process. The original version was posted here.

One year ago, Ganei Beantown convened the first meeting of a new board of directors. The creation of this board was necessary to ensure the long term viability of Ganei Beantown. This new board is a group of individuals focused on supporting and sustaining the work of this grassroots organization. (more…)

Jewschool: The Reconstructionist community sent the message that I’m accepted and wanted

This post originally appeared on Jewschool. 

It wasn’t joy, it wasn’t excitement, it was relief that overwhelmed me when I learned today that Reconstructionist rabbinical students could become rabbis regardless of the religion of their partners. In fact, the statement made it clear that, at one point in time, a qualified student could be denied school acceptance if their partner was not Jewish. This was a move to end that practice. I was relieved for a number of reasons. To know that quality rabbis were being denied access to rabbinical school is just heartbreaking. I cannot think of a time when we will not be in need of inspiring teachers and leaders. It hurts to know that someone could actively be denied that opportunity, and that our community could be denied that gift.

Continue reading at Jewschool.com. 


Victoria Hanna’s Mystical Take on the Hebrew Alphabet

Israeli vocalist Victoria Hanna has been singing since at least 2003, but there’s so little of her recorded beyond a few guest tracks and YouTube clips. We do know that she has more than a fleeting interest in the Hebrew language and its characters. She’s originally from Jerusalem but I get the sense she’s spent one too many nights in Tzfat breathing in that “mystical” air. (more…)

Now Streaming: Balkan Beat Box Documentary “Look Them Act”

With little fanfare and almost no buzz, Balkan Beat Box released a short documentary on in 2010 entitled “Look Them Act.” The film is named for a track from their 2010 album Blue Eyed Black Boy. While the video’s YouTube caption notes the video, I was completely unfamiliar with it. As a fan, I do my best to follow the band on social media and I obsessively watch my local concert listings for their next local appearance (I’ve seen them 5 times and they’ve never once let me down. This is all to say I think I would have known about a DVD or documentary, online or on the merch table, but it was by chance that I even came across this film on YouTube. This is a brief, yet intimate behind the scenes look at what makes BBB tick. It manages to cram to so much into 28 minutes that it almost feels like a lengthy trailer for a feature-length documentary that has yet to be released. (more…)

Affirming That #BlackLivesMatter at #ChanukahAction with the Jewish Community in Brookline, MA

The following was originally posted at Jewschool.com.

I spent the first night of Chanukah this year at Coolidge Corner in Brookline, MA. This was the Boston-area location for the multi-city #ChanukahAction: A Jewish Day of Action to End Police Violence event. I had a number of anxieties in advance, but it proved to be a powerful evening with moments of hope and inspiration.

My concerns began with a Facebook event wall littered with infighting that I feared would travel offline to the actual event. Could we focus on one issue, and keep the focus away from ourselves? Could we raise awareness in our own community without silencing and ignoring those who have already been marginalized? I had been to a protest organized by Black Lives Matter Boston in November, organized and led by people of color. I recognized why Jews needed to rally around the cause, but it was unclear how. Frankly, could we do this without damaging the larger movement?


When I’m a Jew by Choice

Don’t kill the messenger.

The term “Jew by Choice” generally refers to one who converts to Judaism from another faith. The word “convert” tends to emphasize the change while “Jew by Choice” makes it clear the person is a Jew and shows s/he elected it. Anecdotally, people often note how Jews by choice are often more passionate than their coreligionists who have been born into it. One very actively decides to be and to do Jewish versus those for whom it’s just this thing s/he’s always had. (more…)