Sign In Forgot Password


On many a Friday night, I have spent time taking apart the blessing over bread, the hamotzi, reflecting upon it and how it invites us to bless the bread brought forth from the earth.

When we engage in the process of examining this blessing more closely, we understand that the bread does not spring forth from the ground; rather it takes a number of steps, both of the growing kind and the human kind, to produce a loaf of bread.  

I invite you to do just that this week, to look more closely at the world around us. This past week Tehillah observed Pride Shabbat during Pride Month and this country observed Juneteenth as a national holiday on Monday. It would be easy to say that we have checked the boxes and need not look more deeply at either one.

But the mitzvah lies in going further looking more deeply at why these celebrations matter. A few weeks ago, I commented on all of these special months. The challenge is to go beyond the date and into the why and wherefore. 

So many of the accounts that I have read about Juneteenth get the history wrong, inferring that the news had not reached Texas. Slaves in Texas knew about the Emancipation Proclamation, and still they were not freed. It took two and a half years and Federal troops to free Texas slaves. Juneteenth can be considered the oldest African American holiday. Historian Mitch Kachun considers that celebrations of the end of slavery have three goals: "to celebrate, to educate, and to agitate."

I invite you to look deeper, ask questions, find out what these days mean to the communities that celebrate them, and remember that they are part of our community as well. It behooves us to take on the mitzvah of looking more closely and digging deeper. That is our tradition after all -- to study, ask questions, and grapple with the answers.

Tue, October 3 2023 18 Tishrei 5784