Pushcart nomination!
Reb Zalman on Chanukah, the third Temple, and God's broadcast

End-of-year gifts

Many different December opportunities for gift-giving are on their way. Whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or simply enjoy the experience of giving and receiving at this time of year, you're probably doing some holiday shopping right about now.

If you are looking for a gift for someone in your life who enjoys poetry, and/or someone in your life who is interested in Torah / Bible / scripture, I hope you'll consider giving them a copy of 70 faces, my collection of Torah poems. Alicia Ostriker, author of For the Love of God: the Bible as an Open Book and The Book of Seventy, writes "These poems are so out there, so radical, and at the same time so gentle and inviting. Barenblat manages to do work that has passion and truth behind it, without ranting. I love the simple and confident way she deals with the akedah -- and I love the final poem in this collection -- gliding right past heartbreak into renewal, which is what her poems all seem to do." (And the akedah poems to which Alicia refers were recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.) The collection costs just $14, and in purchasing it, you support an independent press which puts out really beautiful work.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the consumerism of the season, or if you want to give a gift to someone but don't want to burden them with more stuff, there's always the option of making a donation in someone's honor to a cause that they support. And as Jihadi Jew recently reminded me, the Baal Shem Tov wrote that "It is best to give a little bit of sadaqah /tzedakah every day to train your hand to give." For my part, I would be delighted if donations were made to Congregation Beth Israel (the community I serve), to ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal (the body which ordained me), the Organization for Transformative Works (where I'm about to finish up a three-year Board term), or Rabbis for Human Rights (whose work I deeply admire.)