I am setting up this page with links and resources related to political matters in the United States. Much of the material here is my own writings but I hope to develop this with much more of what I consider the most insightful material I have read, watched, or heard. I am trying to convey a Jewish-American and a Jewish religious perspective. My major areas of focus are on political philosophy, racism, anti-Semitism, and leadership.
Why I Chose America
My sermon from July 2, 2016 on why I chose to be an American rather than make aliyah, and how America has enriched Judaism.
Inheriting America, Then Choosing America
Another take, with more of a focus on the ideas of freedom and individuality, in a sermon from July 2, 2022. (Published in the Times of Israel)
My American Tale -- What's Yours?
Yet another retelling of the same take and story, from a D'var Torah I gave on the Shabbat of Parshiyyot Chukkat-Balak 5783 (July 1, 2023).
Partners Not Guests: Jews Building America, America Building Us
A similar take on why America and Jews are great for each other, and why we should see ourselves as key builders of this country -- my Yom Kippur sermon for 5780 (2019).
A Jewish Leap of Faith Into Our Democracy
My charge to us as citizens of the United States, built on our history from far before we got here as stewards of the building-blocks of freedom and self-government -- my Yom Kippur sermon for 5783 (2022).
American Politics and Citizenship
Jewish, Liberal, and Conservative
How to be a better Jewish liberal or a better Jewish conservative. I drew that piece from a long sermon I delivered on Yom Kippur 5776 (2015) called "Would Isaiah Approve This Message?"
V.O.R. -- Vision-Opinion Ratio
My sermon for the second day of Rosh Hashanah 5779 (2018).
How I Decide Who to Vote For
I posted this right before the 2020 New Hampshire primary.
The Moral, the Political, and the Partisan
An attempt to clarify the kinds of things Jews and Judaism should and shouldn't try to do in the American political process, and to differentiate between political engagement and partisan activity.
Repairers of the Breach
My Yom Kippur sermon from 5777 (2016) in advance of the presidential election.
Sukkat Shalom -- What a Temporary Peace Is (And Is Not)
I wrote this guide to temporary peace and its spiritual and moral costs a month before Election Day 2020.
How To Be President
This is the website for an initiative that a number of area religious leaders undertook in both 2016 and 2020, to "transform how we learn about candidates by asking better questions." On this page of the site you will see both our full forum with U.S. Rep. John Delaney in 2019 and my question-and-answer with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Another group of local faith leaders set up this project to help people of different political perspectives and commitments talk to each other. The site includes guides as well as our own local media on the project at the time we set it up.
American Jews and Racial Justice
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail
This is the most important religious document about racial justice in American history. For Jews, we should read "Jews" and "synagogue" everywhere MLK writes about "Christians" and "church."
"Religion and Race" by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Rabbi Heschel gave this speech January 14, 1963 at a conference with the same name in Chicago, where he met MLK for the first time. The speech begins, "At the first conference on religion and race, the main participants were Pharaoh and Moses..."
Reverend King and the Rabbis -- Fifty Years Later
My sermon on the Shabbat of Pesach 5778 (April 7, 2018). MLK met with the Rabbinical Assembly shortly before he was murdered. His reflections on that time contain much that speaks to our day.
Sterling Bans Silver for Life
My sermon for Parashat Emor 2014 (5775) after a Jewish owner of a professional basketball team owner was banned by the Jewish commissioner of the NBA.
Invocation -- Southern NH Outreach for Black Unity MLK Breakfast 2019
My words exploring the nuances of one of Rev. Dr. King's favorite quotations, Amos 5:24 -- "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Rabbi Andre Ungar, To Birmingham and Back (1963)
Rabbi Ungar and others were dispatched in the middle of that year's Conservative Rabbinical Assembly national convention to Birmingham, to be by the side of MLK and the protesters. This is his report.
Conversation with Martin Luther King (1968)
MLK's last public interview before his assassination took place at the Rabbinical Assembly's convention. He was introduced by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and interviewed by Rabbi Everett Gendler. I reference this conversation in the "50 Years Later" sermon above.
"Why We Went" (1964)
A statement by 17 Reform Jewish leaders who were arrested in St. Augustine, Florida, protesting for integration at the invitation of MLK.
Jewish political operatives and the 1964 Civil Rights Act
Tablet Magazine article on the 50th anniversary of the Act, telling the story of behind-the-sceces organizing and advocacy by Jews to whip votes and overcome a Senate filibuster.
Anti-Semitism and Racism in America
After Pittsburgh: A Narrower Bridge, A Net Like Never Before
My sermon of November 2, 2018, the week after the Tree of Life murders.
Remembering Elie Wiesel As A Lens For The Week That Was
On July 9, 2016, I spoke about Elie Wiesel who had died that week, and how his life and writings might give us a perspective on a week that also included the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the subsequent murder of five white police officers in Dallas.
Building Mountains: After Charlottesville
My sermon on Parashat Re'eh 5777 (August 19, 2017) the week after.
Shabbat Zachor 5772 (2012)
I am including this sermon about having allies against anti-Semitism in the U.S., even though some of the references are dated and some of the specifics may not look right today. Overall it is the perspective I still have on where we stand, with real anti-Semitism and with real allies. The occasion is the Shabbat preceding Purim.
The Megillah, Rep. Omar, and Where We Go From Here
My sermon looking ahead to Purim 5779 (2019) after Rep. Ihan Omar's anti-Semitic attack.
Other Reflections on Political Leadership
On the 50th Anniversary of JFK"s Assassination
My sermon for Parashat Vayeshev 5774 (2013). I returned to some of these themes in a sermon from July 2016 during the president campaign on Parashat Chukkat, which includes the death of Miryam and the decree that Moshe and Aharon will not lead the people either into the promised land.
Look Up to Them
My sermon for the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5780 (2019) included a call for us to find political leaders to look up to even during a time when so many leaders disappoint or even betray us.