A Few Preliminary Thoughts

Photo: “PARRCzar” Rabbi Larry Goldmark introduces Israel Consul General David Siegel before he speaks to the assembly of Reform rabbis in Palm Springs, January 2016. Photo by R. Ruth Adar.

There are some long, thoughtful posts brewing in my head right now, but they need more time to cook. Here are some impressions I have from the various presentations and conversations at the  PARR conference so far:

  1. History flows like a river. Learn to swim, or you will drown.
  2. There is nothing new under the sun, but things rarely happen in exactly the same way twice. When something “comes back around,” that’s interesting, but it is also important to notice what’s new about it. In the same way, when something looks new, I should ask myself, “When have I seen this before?”
  3. We live in the age of Outrage du Jour. It is tempting in so many different aspects of life to get all excited about that which is immediate: the tweet, the facebook post, the latest thing, the newest news. Jewish wisdom, however, urges us to look beyond the immediate to the Big Picture.
  4. Fear is a poor compass. It’s always worth asking what is truly likely to happen, instead of obsessing over the worst case scenario.
  5. Power vs Powerlessness is one heck of an interesting lens through which to view the world, especially if I can manage to look through it calmly.
  6. If you want to learn interesting stuff, seek out people who make everybody uncomfortable.

If any of these snippets stirs up thoughts for you, I hope that you’ll share them with us in the Comments.




Published by


Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

6 thoughts on “A Few Preliminary Thoughts”

  1. #4 and #5 are very important, especially in these days of continuous challenges. Rabbi Ruth, thanks so much for sharing what’s happening at “Rabbi Camp”!

      1. Thanks so much for your questions, Rabbi Ruth! I have the following comments.
        #4 – Fear immobilizes us, blurs our vision, dominates and controls our brain. We stop our ability to create, and we spend our energy sweating, worrying, and accelerating our heartbeat.
        The world is disruptive – the challenges are many, and new. Fear is not even an option.

        1. #5 – It is a corollary of #4. One can act calmly if she/he overcomes fear and puts the brain to work and face the challenge. Thank you!

  2. I sat right up at number 2 . . . yes, that’s one I’d love to chew on some more. #5 took me back to my masters research in the 80s (yes, I’m getting old, old, old), but the topics of internal vs external locus of control stand the test of time. It occurred to me then that the Jewish perspective on life is one of internal locus of control (e.g., we have the power to change things) as opposed to external (God controls things or, conversely, the devil made me do it). I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with all five. Thanks, Rabbi Ruth!

Leave a Reply