Entries by Aaron Potek

Ethnic vs. Religious Judaism

Jews have an identity crisis. Are we a religion, or are we an ethnicity? There is textual support for both answers, and the easiest solution to this crisis is to say that we’re both. I think this solution ignores the real challenge. While in theory one could identify as equally ethnic and religious, I have […]

An alternative view of Yom Kippur

For most Jews, the two words “Yom Kippur” evoke two other words: fasting and synagogue. I decided to lead a Lunch-and-Learn outside of a synagogue to see what would happen. Everyone who came was fasting (at least at that point), and most had come from synagogue, so it wasn’t the counter-cultural group of rebels I […]

Judaism that is more than get married, have babies

On one of my rabbi listservs there’s a long email chain about innovative high holiday programming for this year. There are many creative ideas, but I was struck by one not-so-creative common denominator: they are all taking place in a synagogue. To be fair, this is the time of year when many Jews, for whatever […]

Why do we gather the Jews?

“So, why did Gather the Jews hire a rabbi?” I’ve been asked this question at just about every coffee meeting I’ve had since starting this job. Of course, I’ve been asking myself the same question, and I don’t yet have the full answer. But in classic rabbinic fashion, I think the answer might begin with […]

Are you a Bad Jew?

On Tuesday night, at my debut event since becoming the rabbi for Gather the Jews, I just wanted to make a good first impression. And then I called everyone in the room a Bad Jew. Let me explain. I was asked to speak on a panel with Rabbi Aaron Miller of 2239 and Sarah Tasman […]

Drinking in the Moment

I should have anticipated it, but I’ve been doing a good amount of drinking since I started this job a week ago. I started off strong with the Gather the Jews Happy Hour last Thursday. Followed by Shabbat dinner with friends the following night. And then a bottle of wine with the Gather Team to […]