Dan Ornstein

Commentary & Opinion
3:52 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Wise Blood

Several weeks ago, as I planned my overly ambitious summer reading list, I came across my son’s copy of Flannery O’Connor’s famous first novel, Wise Blood.  Contemplating whether or not to read the book, and always looking for an excuse to talk to my adult child, I called him to inquire about what he thought of it. “You know, dad,” he began, “It is an intensely religious novel, all about a man who is trying to  rid himself of faith in Jesus and God, yet who fails to do so.  As a rabbi and religious person, you’ll like it.”

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Commentary & Opinion
3:51 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: The Noise Which Brings Quiet

  What I always notice about water tumbling from a cliff or gurgling downstream is the way the noise from its rush makes everything near it sound much quieter. Perhaps it is because I am in the mountains, away from the distractions of urban life, work, and daily nonsense. Maybe it is because the pulse and swirl of water gently force me to listen to the inevitable movement of time and life around me.

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Commentary & Opinion
12:50 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: May Day

O stormy, stormy world,

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Commentary & Opinion
12:50 pm
Sat April 19, 2014

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: The Bricks Of Empowerment

The Passover ritual of the seder meal helps its participants to relive the Israelites’ terrifying transition from slavery to freedom in ancient Egypt. At the seder, eating the unleavened bread called matzah allows us to literally ingest this transitional experience.  According to the Bible, the Israelites baked matzah because they had no time to bake regular bread as they fled Egypt on their way to freedom.  Yet matzah is also called the bread of affliction and economic poverty that our enslaved ancestors ate in Egypt.  When we Jews eat matzah we are trying to get a taste, actually and symbolically, of what it feels like to live with one foot in slavery and one foot in freedom.  Hopefully, that makes us more appreciative of the meaning of both.

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Commentary & Opinion
3:50 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: “Saying Grace” Over Grace After Meals

Moving from New York City to Raleigh, North Carolina upon ordination was my first serious foray out of a somewhat insular northeastern cocoon and into “real” America.  I was not exactly sheltered until then. I grew up in an ethnically diverse Queens neighborhood, and the inner city public high school I attended was a testing ground for class and racial coexistence.  Still, I thought I knew what difference was until I discovered how different difference could be in the same country, less than five hundred miles south of where I grew up.  The Raleigh and East Carolinas that I remember from the early nineteen nineties were a study in contrasts.  The city is part of an urban powerhouse of cosmopolitanism that attracts people and businesses from all over the world.  Yet it also boasts some of the world’s most rigidly conservative churches and it sits in the midst of the American tobacco farming industry, a very traditionalist, hierarchical culture.

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Commentary & Opinion
12:35 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: My Masterpiece

She walks up to me after morning services, her face uplifted and bright.  “I wanted to let you know about some great news I got from my son,” she grins.  Those few moments after morning worship before I go back to my office are usually when members of my synagogue tell me their worst news about sadness, illness, death.  Her promise to tell me about something happy intrigues and relieves me.  “He has been writing since he was sixteen,” she begins.  “After more than twenty years of writing professionally, he sold a screenplay for a new movie.  My husband and I will be visiting him on the set

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Commentary & Opinion
3:50 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Informed Voting As A Religious Obligation.

Commentary & Opinion
3:50 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: A New Internet Idea: Google Divine Images

Below is my imaginary letter to Sergei Brin, the co-founder and owner of Google.

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Commentary & Opinion
3:54 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Searching For Khaled

I was a twenty-one year old junior in college when I met Khaled Nusseibeh.  We were both undergraduates at Columbia University in New York thirty years ago, and my memories of him and our brief friendship are now quite old and likely distorted.

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Commentary & Opinion
3:30 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Dan Ornstein: Anxiously Remembering to Live

A half-hour north of Albany outside the town of Stillwater you will find the Still Point Interfaith Retreat Center, in my opinion, one of the Capitol District's most beautiful and serene rural settings.  Sheltered and almost completely hidden by a wooded thicket, Still Point is exactly what its name implies: a place of blessed silence and spiritual respite, whose chorus of rustling leaves, birds, and crickets sings a song that drives out the whining musak of daily life from my ears. 

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