Under the Kippah • Thoughts from the Jewish Chaplain

Welcome to the “Under the Kippah” blog, featuring posts from the Jewish chaplain to Williams College.

You can contact Rabbi Seth with any questions or comments at [email protected].

A crack in everything

In this week’s Torah portion, Emor, we read that no one who has a defect may draw near to God through offering sacrifices on the altar. And then Torah goes into exquisite detail about all of the different kinds of physical defects that would disqualify… Continue reading »

Deep Ecumenism and Being a Mixed Multitude

One of the things I love about the Passover story is that every year the story is the same, and every year I hear it anew. (This is true of the whole Torah, too, but I knew and loved the Pesach story before I knew and loved the whole… Continue reading »

Ready to be changed

This week we’re taking a break from the regular cycle of Torah readings. Our special Torah reading for Shabbat Chol Ha-Moed Pesach, the Shabbat that comes in the midst of this festival, returns us to the book of Exodus. In this Torah portion, Moshe pleads with God,… Continue reading »

Cleaning (the internal) house before Pesach

It’s Shabbat HaGadol, “The Great Shabbat” — the Shabbat that comes right before Pesach. Traditionally, this is the day when rabbis are supposed to give lengthy sermons on the importance of properly cleaning one’s house for Pesach and getting rid of every crumb of leavenable grain. So that’s… Continue reading »

When Jews and Muslims Pray Together

  “I’m deeply distressed at the desecration of Jewish cemeteries,” said my colleague Sharif at the weekly chaplains’ staff meeting at our small liberal arts college.   “I’m deeply distressed by the mosques set afire,” I said to him in return.   We both find hope in… Continue reading »

What Costumes Can Reveal

I remember the first time I saw a boy in drag and found him beautiful. It was fall of my freshman year. My first boyfriend lived in the entry next to mine, and he dressed in my clothes for a dance party thrown in Currier Ballroom by… Continue reading »

Dwelling In Us

This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, contains one of my favorite verses in Torah: ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם — usually translated as “Let them make for Me a sanctuary, that I might dwell in their midst.” It comes as part of the instructions for building the mishkan,… Continue reading »

Yes we said yes we will yes

In this week’s Torah portion, the children of Israel tell Moses, כל אשר דבר ה׳ נעשה / “All that God has spoken, we will do.” After that, they receive the Ten Commandments. Wait. Doesn’t that seem backwards? How could we accept the mitzvot, and only then learn what… Continue reading »

With What We Are To Serve

In this week’s Torah portion, Moses argues with Pharaoh about letting the people go. It’s framed as “let the people go so they may worship Adonai.” Torah doesn’t speak in terms of freedom for its own sake. Moshe seeks his people’s freedom from servitude and oppression and hard labor… Continue reading »