Why ‘We’ Is A Sacred Word

(first published in the Jewish Week, September 3, 2019) We are tired of being spoken about in the third person. We are old enough, have seen enough, to know the importance of telling our own story. We have been co-opted, used as pawns in other times, other places, and it never ended well for us.

The Last Temptation of Elie Wiesel

Avraham was faced with ten tests.  -Midrash Yalkut Shimoni Chapter 12             It is wrong to imagine the lives of survivors, to impose our own reading on their experiences, to try to tame the ineffable reality they describe. Yet they do describe their lives, and this creates a certain amount of room for us to consider: What

Sit Under the Tree

One of the most important things that humanity has to learn for its survival is that the choice between self and other, between particularity and universalism, is a fallacy. It is taken as obvious that there is an inverse relationship between particular identity and universal commitments. The belief goes that the more committed you are

Judaism as Rebellion

Judaism is nothing if it is not countercultural, a fierce critique of the world, of its culture, an insistence against all reason and evidence that kindness can still triumph, that justice can win, that peace can arrive and stay. When Jewish communities and institutions become extensions of the culture, mere conveyances for universally accepted norms,

5 Haiku for Elie Wiesel

5 Haiku for Elie Wiesel Too late. It’s all lost. And yet, telling stories saves. But this never heals. *** Jews are so special: We made love as resistance. Life is our revenge. *** We are not victims. Abraham Isaac Jacob Define us always. *** I’ve shouted my life. Do people even listen? You have

Are You Uncomfortable?

There is a particular kind of strain that comes of living in a time like this. Great social and political tension, the widening divide between entrenched positions, the rise of hatreds we thought had finally been marginalized, all lead to uncertainty, anxiety, discomfort. But there is also tremendous opportunity in this historical moment. The world

Here’s Looking at You

For the past two months I’ve been traveling to bookstores, synagogues, and community centers along the East coast. I speak for 20 or 30 minutes about my book, about my teacher, about the lessons that help me make sense of the world today. Then I invite questions, and people ask about current events, about Elie

The Miracle of Two Candles

Professor Wiesel didn’t like miracle stories. When a student asked about miracles during the Holocaust, he said “Miracles?! For some, but not for others?” And he added that every miracle story is also a blasphemy, because, if God could perform miracles, why didn’t He perform miracles for others? There are many miracle stories in Hasidic