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Breathing in Pesach

(Illustration by Sarah Quinter)

Tomorrow, when Pesach begins, we will tell the exodus story. To be sure, there are many reasons we engage in this ritual. It is one that is rich with drama, curiosity, family interaction and revelry. It is also fraught with myths about how it got started and the many traditions that have  developed over the years.

However, we are commanded to take our time, lean back in our chairs, eat and drink heartily, yet, there is so much pain, sadness and death all around us. It seems increasingly harder each year to step away from what is happening and breathe a little. But that is what we are supposed to do --- breathe.

Breathe.

BREATHE.

Breathe into the notion that there is freedom on the other side of this reality we are living in right now.

Breathe knowing that as we move away from oppression, towards liberation, we leave as an erev rav, leaving no one behind.

Breathe knowing liberation is our default, our birthright.

Full Stop.

We lean into this truth the ne…
Recent posts

Solidarity Sukkot ---- Tales of Solidarity: Sophie Scholl

How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action? --- Sophie Scholl



From The Holocaust Research Project
Sophia Scholl was born on May 9, 1921, the daughter of Robert Scholl, the mayor of Forchtenberg. Her full name was Sophia Magdalena Scholl. The family lived in Ludwigsburg, Germany from the summer of 1930 till spring of 1932, after which they moved to Ulm and finally to Munich where Sophie attended a secondary school for girls.

At the age of twelve, she was required to join the Bund Deutscher M├Ądel (League of German Girls) as most young women at the time, but her initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to strong criticism. She was aware of the dissenting political views of her father, of friends, and also of some of her teachers. Political attitude had become an…

Solidarity Sukkot ---- Tales of Solidarity: Dr. Traian Popvici

“As far as I am concerned, what gave me strength to oppose the current, be master of my own will and oppose the powers that be, finally to be a true human being, was the message of the families of priests that constitute my ancestry, a message about what it means to love mankind." ---Dr. Traian Popvici


From Yad Vashem:
When Germany signed its non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, it took Besserabia and Northern Bukovina from Romania and gave it to the Soviet Union. In July 1941, when Germany attacked the Soviet Union with Romania at its side, the two territories were returned to Romania. For three days the returning Romanian soldiers carried out a massacre among the local Jewish population.

Born in 1892, Dr. Traian Popvici was the son of a Romanian Orthodox priest. He studied law in Czernowitz (Cernauti – the former capital of Bukovina – and today Chernovtsy in Ukraine) and earned a doctorate. When Soviet Russian annexed his town he moved to Bucharest. At first he supported Io…

Solidarity Sukkot ---- Tales of Solidarity: Niuta Teitelbaum

"I am a Jew, my place is in the struggle against the Nazis for the honor of my people and for a free Poland!" ---Niuta TeitelBaum


Niuta Teitelbaum, aka Little Wanda With the Braids, was one of the earliest volunteers for the Polish underground soon after Warsaw fell to the Germans in October 1939. The petite twenty-two year old devout Jew wore her blond hair in pigtails, which made her look like a sixteen-year-old girl, effectively disguising her real role – assassin. She parlayed her innocent looks to gain entrance to Gestapo headquarters, and silently shot an SS officer as he sat at his desk. The episode is but one of her daring moves.




Niuta avoided capture for nearly three years, but in July 1943, two months after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ended, the Gestapo burst into her room before she could swallow a poison pill. After weeks of torture, she was executed at the age of twenty-five years old. To the Germans, she was Little Wanda with the Braids; to the Polish undergro…

Solidarity Sukkot

According to the Jewish calendar, it is 5778 and what a year it has already been here in Saint Louis, MO. After 6 long years, Anthony Lamar Smith's family was let down yet again by the state issuing a not guilty verdict in the case which has led to daily/nightly protests. The mayor has largely been silent and the police have been incomprehensibly violent and inhumane in their response to the protest against continued state violence and white supremacy.

This Yom Kippur, September 30, 2017 coincided with the commemoration of the lives lost and families destroyed during the Elaine Massacre which was one in a long history of pogroms against Black people in the early 1900s. In fact, the violence of white mobs spread across the US in the summer of 1919 with no less than 33 incidents and was later coined Red Summer by James Weldon Johnson.

Now it is Sukkot. Our tradition says that after we have spent time in meditation, prayer, fasting and reflection we must remember the vulnerability, …

What Will We Remember?

What Will We Remember?

During these days of awe we are told that G-d remembers our deeds and actions, but what will we remember?
Will we remember we are all B'Tzelem Elohim, made in G-d’s image? Will we remember that we were born free?
Will we remember to breathe?
Will we remember to have courage? Will we remember ahavah rabbah ahavtanu, that we are loved by an unending love?
Will we remember to breathe?
Will we remember that our liberation is bound up with one another? Will we remember that we are all we got, that we can’t afford to throw anyone away?
Will we remember to breathe?
Will we remember to love with revolutionary love? Will we remember to choose truth and honesty over being right?
Will we remember to breathe?
Will we remember to find that spark of divinity in the folx we meet? Will we remember to be kind?
Will we remember to breathe?


What will YOU remember?

Koach Frazier

Last week's portion today: Showers of Blessings from Parsha Pinchas

Blessed is the G-d of our ancestors --- the Moabite women who just like their ancestors before them were made out to be the monsters, villains and evil doers of their time --- who reminds us that in our effort to sanctify ourselves there is no need to demonize others who are different from us. Blessed are you G-d, source of wisdom and loving-kindness that moves us toward holiness.

Blessed is the G-d of our ancestor --- Pinchas, son of El'azar, son of Aharon the priest, who in a moment of zealotry killed two people he believed were idolaters and thereafter received a covenant of peace --- who at times appears to encourage and reward violence, confusing zealotry with righteousness yet gives us the free will to make better decisions because we know better. Blessed are you G-d, source of compassion and discernment leading to less violence and more wholeness.

Blessed is the G-d of our ancestors ---Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, the daughters of Zelophehad, who were successfu…