November 16th: Going 12 Rounds or 1,500

As part of a safety presentation I experienced this week, a law enforcement agent gave harrowing details for what an active shooter situation can look like in a school or business. The details were frightening, but incredibly important to hear, as too much of our country is facing threats of violence without the proper preparation…

November 15th: Sharing the Love of Judaism

Over the past few days, I attended a conference discussing the journey of conversion to Judaism by those who choose to join the faith. We examined curricula for Introduction to Judaism courses, met with a panel of converts to learn about their experience, and worked with rabbis to learn their process for working with their…

November 8th: One Year Later

One year ago today, our country chose a direction. A nation watched as half of the country celebrated triumph and half mourned a devastating loss. One year ago, we went to bed knowing our country had picked a direction, but certainly not our destination. Now, I ask: how have we done? This isn’t a political…

November 7th: MLB Free Agent Predictions

The World Series is over, which means it is time for the Hot Stove to heat up! Here are my predictions for landing spots for the top free agents in the game: Yu Darvish – Dodgers The Dodgers almost won the World Series this month, and Darvish was one of the reasons they didn’t. That…

November 6th: Waiting for Terror

I’m embarrassed to say that, in the wake of yesterday’s shooting at a church in Texas, my first thought was not for the victims of yet another act of terror in this country. My first thought was to wonder if the person who walked into the church and killed over 20 people was white. The…

November 5th: Calm in a Storm

As I sit down to write this, a storm is raging in Cincinnati. The rain is hammering the roof above my head, and the rumble of thunder permeates the evening. I’m in my home. I’m not going anywhere. I’m safe and I’m dry. And, when all of those conditions are true, I’m struck by how…

November 2nd: Why Sports Matter

The world of sports is an enormous industry in this country, and is often chastised for being out of focus with reality. That’s a fair claim, at times, but whenever we get to the idea that sports don’t really matter, I slam on the breaks. Last night, we watched the Astros win the 2017 World…

November 1st: A New Perspective

When I started blogging, it was to hone my skills as a writer and wordsmith. As I’ve grown into my profession, it has proved a valuable skill. But the opportunity to write an extra 500, 600, 700 words each week on any given week doesn’t match my needs as a blogger anymore. Frankly, this blog…

October 18th: The Emptiness of “Thoughts and Prayers”

Visiting my student pulpit this weekend, I introduced the mourner’s kaddish, the prayer for those thinking about the death of a loved one, by bringing my congregation’s attention to those who have lost their lives to natural disasters in recent weeks. Fires have ravaged the west coast, while the memories of those lost to hurricanes…

October 3rd: Best MLB Cap Logos, Ranked

Over the course of the baseball season, Todd Radom, a graphic artist and sports fan, ranked the top 30 MLB logos of all time on Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight podcast. After every pick, there was, of course, plenty of discussion and debate about whether or not the logo selected was a good call or a…

Rosh Hashanah Morning Sermon 2017

Below is a transcript of the sermon given by Austin Zoot at Temple Oheb Shalom in Sandusky, Ohio on September 21st, 2017. When the year 5776 began two years ago, I was living in Israel, beginning my rabbinical school journey. During that year, I was learning about the basics of our faith, the history of our…

September 14th: Queen of the Hill

I’ve never liked Jemele Hill very much. She likes to talk about basketball and football, while I’m much more of a baseball and hockey fan. She and her co-host, Michael Smith, have taken up the mantel of discussing race as a lens for sports, and it just hasn’t been done as well as I would…