Entries by Aaron Potek

On Jewish Values

Do you consider “Jewish values” to be a core part of your Jewish identity? If so, try this fun activity in six easy steps! Warning: may bring about existential crisis. Step 1: Write down a list of your “Jewish values.” Yes, actually spell out what they are, instead of letting “Jewish values” be a catchall […]

Rabbi Rant: Jewish Intersectionality

Once again, American Jews are at the center of a conversation about intersectionality. For those less familiar: intersectionality, as described by Nathan Heller, is “a theory, originating in black feminism, that sees identity-based oppression operating in crosshatching ways. Encountering sexism as a white, Ivy-educated, middle-class woman in a law office, for example, calls for different […]

Rabbi Rant: Intermarriage Isn’t Good, Or Bad

The conversation in the Jewish community around intermarriage is extremely polarized and seriously lacking nuance. One side wonders, “How are we still talking about this?” To them, the idea of telling someone to only marry Jewish is antiquated and even racist. The other side thinks, “Those who are intermarried have rejected Judaism and are actively […]

Rabbi Rant: Struggling with Spirituality

I got trolled last week. I’m not sharing this news because I want your pity. (If anything, I’m bragging about it – if you’re getting trolled you must be doing something right.) I’m sharing this because it led me to an important realization. The troll was reacting to a story I told about six months […]

Rabbi Rant: Because I Said So

I remember the biggest temper tantrum I ever had. I was about 5 years old at a baseball game at Wrigley Field. In front of me was a lady with a big bag of peanut M&Ms, and I wanted to ask her if I could have a few. My parents said I couldn’t, and when […]

From Mourning to Celebration in 2 Days

Today is Yom Hazikaron, the memorial day for Israel’s fallen soldiers. Its scope has evolved and expanded since it was passed into Israeli law in 1963. In 1980, it was expanded to include Jewish fighters killed in pre-State battles.  In 1998, the commemoration was expanded to include Israeli victims of terror. Beginning 12 years ago, some […]

Rabbi Rant: The Real Lesson in “S-Town”

If you haven’t listened to the S-Town podcast yet, you should.
Not only because everybody else is doing it (though that does seem to be the case – it’s the fastest podcast to ever reach 15 million downloads or streams on Apple Podcasts). And not necessarily because it’s the greatest podcast of all time. (I think it’s a great piece of storytelling through journalism, but it’s neither revolutionary nor profound.)

Rabbi Rant: The Power of Listening

Maybe I don’t know how to relax. While most people choose to spend their vacations on a beach, last week I spent my vacation in the West Bank. Through an organization called Encounter, I was there facilitating a group of American Jewish leaders who came to learn about Palestinian narratives. Encounter is non-partisan and has […]

Rabbi Rant: What Do You Worship?

It’s easy to dismiss the famous story in this week’s Torah portion of the Israelites making and worshipping the Golden Calf. I mean, do you or anyone you know really struggle with the temptation of bowing down to a statue? This story may have been relevant thousands of years ago, when people worshipped idols, but […]