Neon rainbow arcs on black background
Neon rainbow arcs on black background
Photo by Ana Cruz on Unsplash

Passover is my favorite holiday. It’s my favorite because it transmits a message of radical empathy intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, sensually, and gastronomically.

We dip the freshness of spring and new growth (often represented by parsley in Ashkenazi seders) in the salty tears of our ancestors (represented by salted water). Charoset, a sticky and sweet mixture of fruits and nuts that varies according to region and family tradition, reminds us of the mortar that bound the bricks of the structures the enslaved built for Pharaoh, and it binds us, today, to all who are oppressed around the world.

At seder, we…


pale blue sky with bare winter tree, its branches covered in white snow
pale blue sky with bare winter tree, its branches covered in white snow
Photo by valentin hintikka on Unsplash

“Good morning, Eeyore,” said Pooh.

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning, which I doubt,” said he.

“Why, what’s the matter?”

“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”

“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.

“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”

I wish my kids called me Eeyore. There’s something lovable and romantic about the stuffed donkey with the buttoned-on tail that always seems to go missing. I could imagine myself walking through a pleasant wood as a solitary raincloud tracks my every move, my damp ears drooping to the ground. “Oh, Eeyore,” they’d say, “let’s go to Pooh’s and have some hunny.”

Instead, my children call me “Crabby Ima” (that’s Hebrew for “Mom”). …


Gold star of David handing from a flowering tree just beginning to bloom
Gold star of David handing from a flowering tree just beginning to bloom
Photo by David Holifield on Unsplash

What’s this next Jewish holiday about? It’s what they’re all about: They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat.

The upcoming holiday of Purim has an even stronger message of resilience, though. In fact, we begin to anticipate it, practicing our capacity for joy in the face of tragedy and resilience despite historical trauma, as soon as we enter the Hebrew month in which it falls, Adar. Linking this topsy-turvy Adar holiday of a failed plot to destroy the Jewish people to the actual destruction of the Jerusalem Temple marked during the month of Av, the rabbis taught:

Just…


small sapling in mossy forest
small sapling in mossy forest
Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash

U.S. capitalist culture prioritizes productivity over presence. This is no more evident than in the ways in which both work and school pressure working parents (especially women and people of color) and children to keep pace during a pandemic.

I saw a recent social media post from a parent of a middle-school child reporting that their school board determined any child who is failing will receive a fifty in place of a zero on their report card. In response, one teacher, apparently, sarcastically accused the students of “getting everything handed” to them.

How cruel.

This past Thursday, Jewish people around…


Close up of columns in the dome of the US national capitol building with flag waving at half-mast at sunset
Close up of columns in the dome of the US national capitol building with flag waving at half-mast at sunset
Photo by ElevenPhotographs on Unsplash

It happened the moment those four hundred lamps, representing the 400,000 American lives lost to the COVID-19 virus, illuminated the reflecting pool between the Washington monument and the Lincoln Memorial. I exhaled. I wept. I dropped my shoulders. I closed my eyes. I felt as though I had been received in a comforting hug, or been offered the gentle hand of a loving and supportive friend. Into my head popped a verse from Tehillim (Psalms): “One may lie down weeping at nightfall; but at dawn, joy” (30:6).

Don’t get me wrong: The Biden Administration’s National COVID Memorial did not solve…


Our Sages taught: The Hanukkah lamp — it is a commandment to place it at the door of one’s house, on the outside. And if one lives in an attic, place it in a window adjoining the public area. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 21a)

Placing a Hanukkah menorah in the front window of one’s house isn’t a way to compete with the Joneses next door and their electricity-guzzling Christmas light display. No, it is a rabbinic mandate. It is how we fulfill our obligations as members of the Jewish people celebrating an ancient, but relatively minor, holiday.

The story of Hanukkah…


Queer Wisdom for Pandemic Holidays

Photo by Fabio Sangregorioon Unsplash

In the beforetimes, we took the subway everywhere, and one day, weary from walking and playing on the HighLine, my child and I sat on a bench beneath the city, waiting for our train. Suddenly, he reached over to me, crying. “That person touched my hair,” he said, sounding scared and uncertain, pointing to a young woman sitting next to us.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Did you just touch my son’s hair?” The woman smiled and nodded, adding, “It’s gorgeous!”

Everything in my upbringing as a “polite” white Catholic girl told me to smile and brush this off. Yet, next…


tiny heart-shaped, confetti-shaped, and circular candy sprinkles in trans pride colors, including pink, blue, and white
tiny heart-shaped, confetti-shaped, and circular candy sprinkles in trans pride colors, including pink, blue, and white
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

“The future is female.” “The future is Black.” “The future is nonbinary.” “The future is queer.”

These assertions challenge the status quo by insisting that the under-valued and devalued in our society will survive and thrive. These slogans do not preach revenge or represent so-called reverse discrimination. To insist that the future will lift up female, Black, queer, nonbinary lives embodies a utopian vision that critiques the present moment. We imagine a future that is otherwise.

In many ways, imagining a utopian future where power balances among the former haves and have-nots is a deeply Jewish project, one God asserts…


After the elections are over, your neighbors will still be your neighbors.

While I understand the impulse to soothe our election anxiety with the notion of “getting along” with our neighbors, ultimately his vapid, “tolerant middle” sentimentality ignores and erases the real problems our country is facing, and must solve. Why? Because some of my neighbors do not believe I have the right to be married to my wife, or legal parent to my children. And by “some of my neighbors” I actually mean “some members of my family of origin.” These same neighbors and family members, people who “love”…


Close up of a wrist wearing a read thread bracelet with beach pebbles in the background
Close up of a wrist wearing a read thread bracelet with beach pebbles in the background

This sermon was inspired by the 2007 lecture “The Margarine and the Herring: Jewish Conceptions of Hope” by my teacher and colleague, Rabbi Michael Marmur, PhD., and was delivered as part of Rosh Hashanah Reform Morning Services at New York University, 5780 (2019). I post it here without revision.

Like many Jewish homes, our apartment has lots of mezuzahs: A hand-inked scroll with the words of the Shema prayer rolled tightly and tucked into decorative cases affixed to every doorway (except the bathrooms). The one in our living room archway is white, with one red slash of paint running down…

Rabbi Nikki DeBlosi (she/her)

queer belonging. sex positivity. progressive lifecycle. inclusive judaism. weekly wednesday 8 am edt meditative jewish practice on insta live @ravnikkid

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