Rosh ha-Shana Revelation

On Monday, September 10 I attended first day Rosh ha-Shana services with my congregation, Leyv Ha-Ir. ( At the Aliyah to the Torah, we read the first verses in the first chapter of Genesis, which spoke G-d creating the Heavens and the Earth out of the void, the nothingness.

It hit me-that is the same premise of Quantum Physics, that the so-called “solid matter” we see and feel around us is really trillions of atoms; and these atoms by themselves are really bundles of energy, a wave until you look upon it, not solid mater either. Just as in Quantum Physics, the World, the so-called “solid matter,” came out of no-thing-ness. It’s great how these spiritual teachings mesh well together.

Address for High Holy Days

On Monday, September 10, I had the honor of giving the appeal speech on the first day of Rosh ha-Shana of my congregation, Leyv Ha-Ir. Here it is:

I am a Jew by Choice.

I grew up in a small township upstate in Pennsylvania, where I attended a small Methodist church in the countryside. It didn’t connect with me, all that Sunday School teaching didn’t take with me; I could never accept the idea that THIS was the only way to get to Heaven. I always had a fascination with Judaism, the Jewish people and Israel, and I always wondered what it would be like if I was Jewish.

In early 1990, I began the process of converting. At the Israel Independence Day festival of that year, I found a booth for people interested in joining a Reconstructionist congregation coming together in Center city Philadelphia. The reason I chose Reconstructionism is its belief in being both traditional and modern at the same time, and the belief that being a Jew is not just about religion but being part of a culture, a “tribe.”

My life in Leyv Ha-Ir has been important in this conversion process, taking part in the discussions of the congregation, taking part in services, and being adopted by the members. For my Jewish education, I took a series of courses, the Reform course out of the UAHC, and the Reconstructionist course, “Jewish, Alive, and American,” run out of the Rabbinical College in Wyncote. I discussed also with the rabbi, Geela Rayzel Raphael, and she outlined an informal plan of education-reading the Encyclopedia Judaica in the Paley Library of Temple University, visiting a variety of synagogues to see the variety of Jewish worship (along with the commonality), studying Kashrut, and reading the book Basic Judaism by Rabbi Milton Steinberg.

On the Sunday after Yom Kippur in 1994, I went through the Mikveh and emerged a full-fledged Jew. Four years later, I joined in an adult B’nai Mitzvah class, and I received the Bar Mitzvah in March 1998. Last year, I fulfilled my dream of visiting Israel. I took the plane to Tel Aviv, and took the bus to Jerusalem. The driver pointed out to me the various spots in Jerusalem, and then drove me close to the entrance to the Kotel. I washed my hands, put on my kippah, wrote the little note to place in the cracks in the Wall, and placed my hands on the Wall-I had no other prayer, that was my prayer. I look forward to going back again.

Leyv Ha-Ir has been, as I always say, better than a family to me. We have our Friday evening services, with our wonderful Rabbi Julie, our lay led services for Saturday morning and Friday evening, and our educational programs that Julie leads, to further our vision of our Jewish life. we hope you can support us and join us as we continue the journey.

The Mason Missile, August 27, 2018



Upcoming is Labor Day, the holiday commemorating the working men and women of America.

What is there to celebrate lately? Here we have a “populist” President, supposedly the champion and voice of (white) working-class Americans-always assumed to be white-who signed a tax bill favoring the wealthiest Americans, and fighting against the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”

trump’s attitude, and the attitude of plutocrats in this country, is one of condescension towards(white) working people, that they are too addicted to opioids and the drug of racism to see who their real enemy is-the same plutocratic class- and they feed working-class people with racially-coded fears of “law and order,” “crime in the streets,” “lazy welfare bums,” “affirmative action programs taking jobs away from deserving white workers,” etc.-trump updated this tactic to rail about “MS-13” and “rapists” coming over the border with Mexico- not mentioning that our tax policies have been long skewed in favor of corporations and the wealthy-people who pay lobbyists to alter the tax code in their favor, and to approve federal contracts with certain defense industries. (The news media, also large corporations, have played along with this; however, I think they’ve been pretty good lately at standing up to the trump tantrums.)

Along with this is the Supreme Court’s decision on the Janus case, which limits the ability of public-sector unions to do their work in representing their clients; I have no doubt the learned justices of the Court welcomed this decision, for they sympathized with the corporations-and the Koch brothers-trying forever to weaken and finally destroy unions in this country. The decision upset me terribly.

However, I have been buoyed by the Labor victories throughout the country, the successful teachers’ strikes in such conservative states as West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona; and the voting down of the referendum in Missouri for “right-to-work” (for less)-in Missouri, another conservative Republican state.

We have to overcome the idea that the plutocratic class would automatically rain their blessings on us proletarians, that they know what is best for all of us with their nearly total control of the economy; as a Democratic Socialist, I believe that we the people should have a say in the economic destiny of the nation, since it deals with OUR jobs, OUR ability to pay our bills and purchase OUR groceries, etc. An editorial in the New York Times of May 9, 2018 tells about Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is now the wealthiest man in human history, worth $131 BILLION! (I could live easily on one lousy billion.)

Since Bezos can’t spend all that money, what does he plan to do with it? Not charitable donations, like the old Robber Barons like Carnegie and Rockefeller carried out with their fortunes (made with the sweat and muscle of workers they overworked and underpaid). Bezos’ bright idea is space travel, including regular trips to space-space tourism!

We have problems aplenty on THIS planet-global warming through the use of carbon-based fuels, illiteracy, unemployment, infrastructure (roads, bridges, electric power stations) collapsing, famine, genocide-and Bezos wants frequent-flyer points to Mars! Bezos can do whatever the hell he wants with his money, okay, I’m cool with that; but with the constant deregulation of business practices, the weakening of trade unions, the tax policies favoring people wealthy enough to buy and sell members of Congress, it has led to widening extremes of wealth and poverty-the likes of which eventually leads to violent social upheaval-let’s say it, revolution.  We HAVE to educate ourselves on the issues, organize at our communities and our worksites, and get out and vote this November

Also upcoming are the High Holy Days, Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur, where we re-assess our lives, give up what no longer is good for us, and realize whatever good is in us and around us. Currently we are in the Hebrew month of Elul, when we sit back and reflect on our lives over the past year. Self-improvement is a long process, taken step by step; if you slip and fall on your way to advancing and improving, that’s okay, it’s all part of the learning process, just get back on your feet and keep walking. An excellent guide to the High Holy Days, and the other Jewish holidays, is Seasons of our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays by Arthur Waskow, one of the leaders of the Jewish Renewal movement and head of the Shalom Center (

On that note, I bid everyone L’shana tova, a sweet, happy, and prosperous year to you all.



Elul 2018 and High Holy Days Resolutions

We are now in the month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh ha-Shona and Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar. This is the time when we take stock of how our lives went the past year, when we did right and how we can improve ourselves. This is an important time of the year for me. I believe deeply in positive self-assessment, to forgive myself for what I’ve done wrong, and to pay attention to when I’ve done right.

A lot of the self work for the High Holy Days encompasses your/my thought patters and habits, for good or bad; what causes you/me to act and think in a certain way? This is the time to re-access your/my mind and what it thinks, so that your/my behaviors are positive.

In that spirit I continue my tradition of High Holy Days Resolutions, just like with those for New Year’s, and which I also do for Pesach and my birthday. Here they are:

I will continue to conduct myself with self-love, self-esteem, and self-respect, thinking positively about my work and my life, and practicing self-care, and know that I am worthy of it.

I will continue to advance my art and business as a freelance writer.

I will continue to advance my social and political causes.

I will continue such spiritual practices as meditation, prayer, Torah study, affirmations, etc.

I will continue to dedicate time for rest, recreation, and fun.

I will continue to be faithful to Jewish tradition, history, religion, etc.

I will continue to improve my financial situation.