Welcome to Defrocked Rabbi
Friday August 11th 2006, 11:58 am
Filed under: What Is This??

Defrocked RabbiRabbis do not really get defrocked, but some are unsuited. I’m sure you’ve known a few.

I thought I was suited quite well, thank you, but as we Jews say, “Humans plan and God laughs.”

This is my site. My pulpit. The one place on Earth I can say what I want. If you do not like it, one click and you are atta here. So if you stay, it is by your own choice.

Since I was defrocked, I’ve have very few opportunities to express all of the truths that seem so self-evident to me. Rabbis have big egos. We see things that appear self-evident, and we feel God demands we express what we see to others.

Godbless the Internet. Here I am reborn.

Are you really a defrocked rabbi?

I was ordained at a major American rabbinic seminary. (more…)

So What’s the Whole Story?
Friday August 11th 2006, 8:52 am
Filed under: Slices of Life

Back somewhere around 1996 or ’97 I wrote the story of how I went from being a functional working rabbi to my current “defrocked” state. (more…)

What Is God?
Saturday April 24th 2010, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Slices of Life

Recently received the following request on a rabbis’ listserv:

If you’d like to be included in the book, I’d invite you to submit an essay of up to 500 words explaining your God concept.

I am especially interested in the following: (Don’t feel you have to answer them all)
– Do you believe God either intervenes or intercedes in our lives?
– Do you believe that we can interact with God through prayer, ritual, conversation or otherwise?
– If there is a well known theologian with whom you align or disagree, feel free to reference them.
– Are you comfortable sharing your God concept with congregants or do you tend to keep quiet about it?

So. Here’s mine:

G*d is the power that moves and animates the universe.

The Big Bang occurred 13.9 billion years ago; the Bet that begins the Torah. At that moment everything was an undifferentiated colloid of infinite density and temperature. (more…)

Dvar Torah on “How to Write a Dvar Torah”
Tuesday December 02nd 2008, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Sermons

Yet another sermon. Delivered on Shabbat Toldot, 28 Nov 2008

//Introduce special guests attending this morning//

So. Today I am a guest too. I’m the guest sermonizer. I am the guest giver of the D’var Torah.

Can I ask you all a question? I just did. I have a question to ask you all. Have you ever in your life been asked to deliver a Dvar Torah? Raise your hand. Don’t forget, if you had a bar or bat mitzvah, then you might have given a Dvar Torah then, even if that was your only time.

Ever been on a board or maybe even just a member of a Jewish organization, and then one day you get a call from the president, and he or she says, “Hey listen! this week we have a board meeting or a general meeting. And I’d like to ask you to deliver a brief Dvar Torah. Can you do that?” And you think, “Oh oh!!!” Most people would rather swim across a river of dog poop than get up in front of a group and deliver that brief Dvar Torah. Am I right? (more…)

Yet another DT
Friday January 11th 2008, 2:56 am
Filed under: Sermons

I don’t know what strange karmic vibration has been unleashed in recent weeks, but after not being invited to do the D’var Torah thing for mucho moon, suddenly the requests have been inundating. Here’s my most recent for Parshat Va’eyra:

This is my visual aid. (said while taping 4 pieces of paper to the lecturn, each with one large Hebrew letter spelling out the Tetragramaton: Yod, Hay, Vav, Hay) If this were truly a synagogue of the 21st century, I’d have it projected big time in PowerPoint slides. But since this is a synagogue of the 58th century, we don’t do electronics on Shabbat. We’re still stuck in paper. (more…)

Another Sermon: Parshat Toldot
Monday November 19th 2007, 1:59 am
Filed under: Sermons

About once every 2 or 3 years, one of my local rabbinic colleagues asks me to be rent-a-rabbi on Shabbat morning when he or she is otherwise engaged. Here’s my most recent:

“This is the saga of Ytzkhak ben Avraham. Avraham sired Yitzhak.” So begins our Torah for this Shabbat.

Now when I was a student at the Hebrew Union College many moons ago, one of the courses we were required to take was something called Homiletics. Do you know voss maint dos Homiletics? (more…)

Barukh Ata Adonai
Saturday January 27th 2007, 3:21 pm
Filed under: Slices of Life

The English translation of practically every Jewish liturgy ever published renders “Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheynu, melekh ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzvivanu” as “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us with his commandments and commands us…” Then as feminist conscious and women rabbis and teachers emerged, we emended that a bit, changing King to Ruler or Sovereign and circumlocuting around the masculine pronouns. It seems to me that we ought to continue this thrust toward a full new translation of this translation.

Back when I was in rabbi school (I know, it’s called ‘yeshiva’), a grad-fellow instructor (who’s name I don’t recall) used to insist that “Barukh” should not be translated as “Blessed,” since the act of blessing implies that the bless-or has a higher status than the bless-ee. The most notable example of bestowing a blessing is a king blessing his subject; subjects never bless a king. (more…)

The Choreography of Davvenology
Friday May 26th 2006, 5:40 pm
Filed under: Slices of Life

Rabbi Bill BlankTraditional Jewish prayer — davennen — is done with a few dance steps. This bit of choreography involves certain place in the daily prayer where you bow, where you take a few baby steps forward or backward, where you rise on to your tiptoes. And a rhythmic swaying — shukkling — where the body joins in to the prayer. These dance moves punctuate the prayer and transform the prayer from a wooden recital of words from the book into an act of the whole body. (more…)

Dog Rabbis and Cat Rabbis
Tuesday May 09th 2006, 1:43 pm
Filed under: Slices of Life

Forget about Reform, Conservative or Orthodox. Rabbis really come in two flavors: dog and cat.

Both dogs and cats are wonderful pets. But they differ from one another.

Dogs are loving and loyal. When you return home, your dog does not care if you are Charles Manson or Mahatma Gandi. (more…)

So Where Has Defrocked Rabbi Been and What Happened with the Haggadah?
Thursday May 04th 2006, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Slices of Life

It has been six months since this space has changed. Back then the energy and creativity that might have gone to keep this space fresh and worth returning to was focused onto Internet Haggadah. In case you haven’t yet read the posts below, this was a project I began several years ago: creating a Passover Haggadah that was clear, concise, direct to the point, (more…)