Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Driving with Religion?

The Vatican has issued a "ten commandments" for drivers.

Cars can be "instruments of sin" when used inappropriately, but the Vatican suggests that prayer is a good use for the car -- and it's a good idea to recite the rosary while driving.

Seriously, they are behind -- haven't they ever heard of a MitzvahMobile? This is a thing that Chabad has been using for a long time.

It does speak to the idea that any modern technology can be used for both good and ill. Internet? Good for connecting people, but has obvious downsides. Telephones? Work for calling those in need, but can be disruptive. Ipods? Can shut you out of the world but can also bring in holy music or oral teachings....and I could go on and on.

I find it interesting that the Vatican is looking for ways to integrate their religious teachings into "modern" life -- and that they started with the CAR, something that's been around for so long.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Summer Reading List

(also will be printed in the July KOL)
Last summer, I put together a summer reading list. While I’ve been a little busy this year (baby and all), I’ve still managed to find some interesting reading. By special request, here are some suggestions for your summer (or is that Sommer?) reading list:

Seven Days to the Sea: An Epic Novel of the Exodus by Rebecca Kohn – last year I suggested a number of books in the genre of biblical fiction. This is a new one, just out in March (but available in paperback), and a marvelous entry into the category. I couldn’t put down this retelling of the story from the perspective of both Miriam and Tzipporah (Moses’ wife) – and I already knew how the whole story ends! I found it to be a creative and fresh take on this ancient story.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – a lovely little volume that my husband discovered this year. The four agreements themselves are simple (my favorite is “don’t take anything personally”) but it’s the explanation of how and why these are the four most important concepts that make the book a quick but potentially life-changing read.

My Monastery is a Minivan by Denise Roy – While this is not a Jewish book, I really enjoyed the parenting lessons and tales told by Denise Roy, a minister and psychotherapist (and mom of four). I found her stories to be heartwarming and also inspiring, as well as real-life. I never felt that the book was preachy although I definitely yearn to be the kind of mom who, like Roy, can actually find holiness in even the dirty kitchen floor. (I’m working on it!) (Her other book, Momfulness, was also a great little volume.)

Gonzo Judaism by Rabbi Niles Goldstein – an easy to read argument for the survival of Judaism in the 21st century. "Judaism, when presented in its best and most authentic light, doesn't coddle—it confronts,” says Goldstein. I really enjoyed reading this book which also seemed like a laundry list of some of the coolest and most creative things going on in the Jewish community in America today. Some of the ideas are worth integrating into your own practice or considering as ideas for our own synagogue.

There are so many great books out there – I look forward to hearing some of your favorites! Please share – email me at (I definitely plan to curl up with the new Harry Potter book this summer but I’m sure I’ll find time to read something else too.)

Happy reading!!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

We have a new wall!

There's now a new wall at Am Shalom, the wall that will separate the sanctuary from the construction site that is going to be our building for the next 16 months or so. The wall is up so we can continue to use the sanctuary, and it's very nice. It makes the sanctuary lobby a little bit smaller, but very bright and nice to be in. Here are some pictures of the construction of the wall...