I’ve been thinking of late, given the deadly persistence and spread of Covid and its “Greek” variants, our shuttering in place (again!), the political and violent threat of Trump Republicans against American democracy, the rise in violent antisemitism, racism, misogyny, and homophobia, an ever-worsening climate crisis, and a crumbling of communal ties in a toxic and polarized America.
Over the past eleven plus years, as a means of keeping my sanity, gaining perspective over events large and small, expanding my reach beyond my own community to help educate, provoke, and (at times) inspire, I’ve been writing this blog without let-up.
As a kind of personal mini-Yom Kippur, I thought it worthwhile now for me to take a step back and assess the state of this blog relative to my initial goals. Are they what they once were and are they relevant still?
Eleven plus years ago I had four goals:
- To bring to light what I considered issues of importance facing the American Jewish community, Israel, and the United States from the perspective of liberal American values, liberal Jewish values, and progressive Reform Zionism;
- To reflect on Judaism as a fertile font from which our liberal Jewish identity as ethical and spiritual beings can be clarified, nurtured, and enhanced;
- To glean general take-away lessons on a wide variety of large and small life events and challenges;
- To offer quotations that enlighten, give food for thought, provoke, and focus our thinking and activism on behalf of the common good.
I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to think out-load on this platform, to discipline my thinking to what I believe is essential to any particular argument, event, or matter, and to advance a point of view that’s positive, life-affirming, and consistent with core liberal American and progressive Jewish values.
My son, Daniel, urged me at the beginning to avoid writing anything longer than 800 words because most people ‘s attention span is short. I’ve tried to do that.
There’s a Jewish tradition of citing sources called “l’shem omro – in the name of…”, and I’ve done this too. Not only is it ethically right to give credit to others, but doing it nurtures the virtues of humility, generosity, and gratitude that are, I believe, among the predicates for attaining well-being in one’s life.
I’ve used many blogs, perhaps too many for some readers, to discuss progressive Reform Zionism and the State of Israel. I’ve done so because Israel and Jewish peoplehood are in my DNA, and because I believe that to be a Jew in the 21st century means struggling to understand our relationship with the modern State of Israel, arguably the greatest accomplishment of the Jewish people in two thousand years.
For forty years, I served as a congregational rabbi, and my central task was to live a life that I believed was worthy of the highest values and virtues in liberal Judaism. These blogs helped me think through issues that confronted me, my colleagues, my lay-leadership, and my fellow Jews and Zionists over the years. For that, for them, and for the tradition out of which we come, I’m grateful.
Have I held to the four larger original goals? I think I have – but I’ll let you who follow what I write decide for yourselves. Thank you for reading.
Mark Borovitz said:
Dear John- DON’T STOP!!!
Harriett Bay said:
You can certainly be proud at what you have accomplished
Sent from my iPad
Karen Mason said:
I am a fairly new reader. You are keeping me engaged. Thank you.
Dennis Cambly said:
Congratulations on the many years of sharing your thoughts and wisdom Rabbi. You’ve also made this friend in the non-Jewish community. I’ve often wondered if 800 words is too much for the world when the former president used Twitter to dictate foreign policy. From your friend in Canada please keep sharing.