TRT logo web

Note: The opinions expressed here are solely those of each individual blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of TRT.

Our Mothers' Names

October 2015

From the Desk of Rabbi Weber

No, the grave marker pictured is not in honor of Halloween. But it is about honor. ...




Rabbi, Do You Support the Iran Agreement?

September 2015

From the Desk of Rabbi Weber

Over recent weeks, the Iran agreement has been the number one topic of conversation in Jewish circles. Many people have asked me if I am going to speak about it on the High Holidays, and I told them no, I am not. Here is why.

Is the Battle for Gay Marriage Over? Maybe Not…

July 2015

From The Desk of Rabbi Weber

Like many of you, I celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling that same-gender couples are entitled to the benefits of marriage. As a straight man in a heterosexual marriage I don’t feel my relationship has been put at risk by others marrying the person they love, and I’m happy to bid a not-so-fond farewell to DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act which supposedly “protected” my marriage up to this point.

Mishkan HaNefesh, “The Sanctuary of the Soul"

July 2015

From the Desk of Rabbi Weber

“You changed the prayerbook… again?”

Well, no. And yes. Mishkan Tefilah, our weekday and Shabbat prayerbook, is not changing. But we are replacing On Wings of Awe, our High Holiday prayerbook for the past quarter-century, with Mishkan HaNefesh, “the Sanctuary of the Soul.” The new books have arrived and we are busy affixing bookplates to honor the many people who contributed to bringing this important change to our congregation.

Yerusha – the Inheritance

June 2015

From the Desk of Rabbi Weber

I want to tell you about the yerusha – the inheritance - I received from my parents. It is precious beyond words, valuable beyond measure… and it didn’t cost a penny. My hope is that I will describe it well enough for you to create the same yerusha for your family, and do it now.

Marlee's Sermon

June 2015

Our temple youth group created and led Rock Shabbat last Friday.

Here is the sermon given by Marlee Neugass. I want to share it because it is worth reading. And no, I did not excommunicate her afterward... although I told her I would...
I am SO proud of this young woman, and of everyone who created, led and participated in Friday night's service!


May 2015

Old Bridge Airport

As evening fell the heat of the day eased.

Reviving the Dead

April 2015

The Power of Telling Stories

From the Torah to contemporary novels, we Jews know that stories have power. They teach better than most other kinds of lessons because they put the message – the mashal – in the context of real people. No great news flash there.

What I didn’t realize about stories is their power to revive the dead.

Let all who are hungry come and eat

April 2015

Hunger for Meaning

One of the most famous lines in the haggadah is,

“Let all who are hungry come and eat.” It’s how we begin our seder – by inviting those who need what we have to share with us.


But this invitation isn’t just about food, and it isn’t just for Passover.


February 2015

Life's Challenges

I don’t like surprises. Give me time to prepare and I can handle almost anything, but surprises are not welcome guests in my brain.

So, in December I tore my Achilles’ tendon.


How To Help Israel

December 2014

...We Can Go There

How To Help Israel

I’ve spoken and written a lot about Israel recently. Maybe it’s because I don’t hear many people doing it who aren’t completely critical of every single thing Israel does...

Should We Fear Everyone?

November 2014

How Do We Adjust?

Should We Fear Everyone?

This past summer a pregnant woman was punched in the face while walking along a street in Brooklyn. She was knocked out, but, fortunately, no lasting harm came to her or to her baby. The assailant, a 33-year old man, was quickly apprehended in what seems to be a completely random act of violence.

Are we the "Wyoming" of gay and lesbian Jewish life?

October 2014

Our Growing TRT Family

So, how many gay/lesbian families do we have in the TRT family?  

What We Do

September 2014

Minute Particulars


The poet William Blake wrote, “He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars.”

Rabbi Don Weber

August 2014

"Rabbi, do you believe in the Bible or in science?"

After years of our students asking me questions on everything from why people die to what I like about cats, this year nine students asked me this question about science and the Bible. Nine!

What’s going on here? Why the sudden interest from our students about which “side” I’m on? More important, where did they get the idea that there are “sides” in the first place – that this question has a black-and-white answer?

Maybe in today’s increasingly polarized atmosphere we should expect it. Television, news media and internet blogs share left-wing opinions that “religion is for ignorant fools” and right-wing claims that “science is a liberal conspiracy.” There is no room for compromise, for nuance. The question today is simple: Which side are you on?

Do I believe in the Bible, or in science? I believe in both. I know that to some, this is a cop-out, a wishy-washy refusal to take a stand. But it is not a cop-out, and not wishy-washy: it is the essence of who I am as a Reform Jew.

My rabbinic school professor, Dr. Kravitz, taught us, “Science is about true and false. Religion is about good and bad. You do not get facts from religion, and you do not get values from science.”

Dr. Kravitz would continue, “Zyklon B gas, used in the Nazi gas chambers to murder millions of people, is true. It exists. Scientists invented it to fulfill a function. It did what it was supposed to do.

“Religion, not science, attempts to put values on what we do, and what we create. What was done with Zyklon B gas was wrong. It was evil. It was bad.

For nearly two hundred years, Reform Jews have tried to synthesize truth and goodness. We take a critical look at the Bible and Jewish law, and at times we decide that the practices they put forth are “entirely foreign to our present mental and spiritual state” (Pittsburgh Platform, 1885). But we also take a critical look at modern society, and much of our movement’s focus on Tikkun Olam – repairing the world – is a stand against the inhumanity of unregulated capitalism in which some people rise and others fall. And we take a stand against the “gossip industry” which thrives on the private lives and private troubles of others. As reformers, the verb that is part of our identity, we make the radical statements that not everything that is “religious” is good, and not everything that is “true” is good, either.

When I answer the Bible/science question, I ask the students if it’s okay to say something hurtful or embarrassing about another person. Most say it is not. “But what if what you are saying is true?” I ask. “What if your best friend just told you that her parents lost their jobs, and they are being evicted from their home? Is it okay for you to tell your other friends? After all, what you are saying is absolutely true, isn’t it?”

Some of them say it is all right to share the information, since it’s true. Then I suggest they imagine the same situation, but this time they are the ones who are losing their home. Now is it okay for your best friend to share this news with everyone he knows?

“Ohmygodno” is the unanimous response.

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to another person,” I remind them. That’s how Rabbi Hillel summed up all of Judaism, and by extension, all religion. It’s important to know what is true, but it is just as important to think about what is good.

We Reform Jews have the chutzpah to insist that our lives in temple and outside of temple not contradict each other. We fully embrace the technology which makes pushing an elevator button less work than climbing 14 flights of stairs on Shabbat, and at the very same time we fully embrace the idea that religion, not science, can guide us to live ethical, caring, passionate lives – lives which value goodness above all.

So yes, I believe in science. And in the Bible. It might be simpler to believe in only one of them, but I can’t do that. I’m a Reform Jew.

Shira joins me in wishing you an early Shana Tova – a year filled with good.


                                                                                                            Rabbi Don Weber

[12 3  >>