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…

August 17th: Is This REALLY Necessary?

I never thought I would have to write a blog post condemning Nazis. If I had, I never thought it would be quite as hard as it is right now. What really is there to say? You type a sentence like “Nazis are bad,” and you think it sounds so ridiculous. OF COURSE Nazis are…

July 11th: What Mega Churches Have to Teach

Growing up, I was fascinated with Joel Osteen. The televangelist was able to reach an audience on a weekly basis that blew me away, and his words were able to have an impact that was so incredibly powerful and moving. I had always wondered: what could we, as the Jewish community, learn from seeing his…

July 6th: Call Your Knesset Members

Last week, the Israeli government suspended plans to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, or Western Wall, in so doing ostracizing a large portion of the non-Orthodox Jewish population in Israel and abroad. After plans were put aside, Jews around the world, most notably American Reform Jews, voiced their significant displeasure, noting their…

June 13th: The Jewish Whiteness Question

I took a Southwest flight for the first time this past week. I experienced the fierce battle that is finding an aisle seat with a priority spot in the B section, and waited, while the rest of the plane filled up around me. Finally, a man and his 10-year-old daughter sat down in the two…

May 21st: The Year in Israel – A Year Later

One year ago today, I got on a plane and returned home after my first year of rabbinical school in Israel. At the time, I remember the feeling as though I had just experiencing something too big for words, too profound to be understood in a day or a week or a month. I knew,…

March 27th: Wearing Your Politics on Your Shirt

Last week, I was working out at the Jewish Community Center, as I do most nights. The JCC in Cincinnati, like many gyms, got really busy in January with resolution setters, but has been able to maintain the high attendance since. I’m used to getting to the gym and seeing people of all shapes, sizes,…

March 12th: Purim Shows Us the Beauty of Standing Up Together

The following is a transcript of the sermon delivered by Austin Zoot at Temple B’nei Israel in Kokomo, IN. Purim is a rabbi’s dream holiday for giving in a sermon. It seems like every year, the values of Shushan can be applied to the world around us. This year is no exception. The story of…