Welcome to Mo-Drash ... the weird confluence of the Jewish tradition of Midrash and me!

What is Midrash? Literally, the word derives from the Hebrew root that expresses interpretation. Figuratively, it is the process by which Jews read between the lines of our sacred stories and seek insight from what we discover from each story, verse, word, letter and stroke of the pen.

Who am I? My name is Adam Morris, but known by many as Rabbi Mo. I spend a lot of my time serving in the role of rabbi, but I am also a husband, a dad, a runner and a 'weekend' craftsman (among other things). I try to move like Abraham to find my Place ... to wrestle like Jacob to know my Place ... and to snicker like Sarah to keep me in my Place.

B'makom she-ani omayd (from The Place where I stand),
Rabbi Mo

Friday, January 30, 2015

Beshalach 5775 - Beginning to Reflect on Israel

It was my intention to blog while we travelled in Israel ... I had done it before when I co-chaperoned the Student Interfaith Peace Project trip in the summer of 2008. Perhaps I had more energy then or I underestimated the energy needed in leading a trip, but I found myself at the end of each day physically and emotionally spent -- with the idea of writing as difficult as contemplating running 10 miles, too.

A few have asked for my impressions and reflections from the trip and I have been endeavoring to place those in a sharable construct ... and even though I am past my jet lag and have the time and energy to write - the sharable construct has not yet been constructed. Our group will reconvene soon and discuss the ways in which we all might share what we saw, felt, thought and experienced. I trust there will be some in person and some virtual opportunities for us to share with our community what we did.

Perhaps my writer’s block - if I can call it that - is this sense and need to honor the group-ness of this experience. In all of my travels to Israel, this trip was the first time that I have led a group from my community. I have formed community while in Israel, but I have never traveled with, shared and guided the experience of Israel with a previous existing community. The sense of Micah - Park-Hill-residing, Colorado-mountain-loving - being in Israel became a prominent element of the experience of the trip for me. I found myself eager and anxious about the prospect of introducing Micah to Israel and Israel to Micah. I watched and wondered about the interaction and exchange of these two distinctive and significant entities. I embodied the role of of mediator and counselor as I facilitated this increasingly reverberating encounter between the two.

And so my first reflections on our trip begin with this observation of the sense of ‘us’ being 'there'. This thing we call ‘community’ is the combination and permutation of so many varied kinds of relationships. It is an unruly mess to categorize and quantify (and organize, too!). No matter how we understand it and try to contain or cultivate it, I can say with confidence that ‘community’ is something that transcends time and place - because that is exactly what we did.  And the the way in which we did so - to encounter Israel together - enhanced not only the trip we took, but provocatively impacts the way I understand the community to which we return.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Vayechi 5775 - Farewell, Joseph

(A digest of my D’var Torah from Kabbalat Shabbat services on 1.2.15)

Rabbi Joe Goldman died just more than a week ago ... and he added something to your life.

‘What?!” you say, ‘I never knew Rabbi Joe Goldman!’ You may have never met Rabbi Joe Goldman, but if you are reading this email and you have a connection to me or to Temple Micah or to someone else who values Temple Micah ... then you owe a debt of gratitude to Rabbi Joe Goldman.

Rabbi Joe Goldman was Temple Micah’s first rabbi in the 1960’s. It was his spirit, character and vision that set the tone for our community, our values and how a rabbi and congregation partner to create a kehilah kedosha -- a sacred community.

There are few narrative moments from Rabbi Joe’s tenure that show us who he was and how that spirit still abides among us today. 
  • Rabbi Joe taught about the trust that is an essential part of a successful partnership between rabbi and congregation when he insisted (and the community responded positively) that the community introduce the teaching Hebrew to its students. (Micah - as a congregation who identified with Classical Reform ideals - did not have a Hebrew component in its education curriculum.)  This decision took two partners to make and successfully integrate.
  • Rabbi Joe taught about the important balance for a religious organization to apply its values to operate both as a community and as a business. Complete with business degree and sales experience, Rabbi Joe understood that it was essential for a congregation to be able to talk about money and conduct its business in a way that reflected Jewish values and the best practices of our contemporary society. He would later use this experience and outlook, to help shape the pension plan and retirement for hundreds of rabbis and Reform professionals.  
  • Rabbi Joe taught about the ideal of radical welcomeness, as he would have no problem speaking about his lack of faith in God - from the bimah or in his office. He set the tone for a Micah community that still prides itself on inclusivity regardless of ideology, theology, socioeconomics, sexual orientation or family construct.
The Hebrew version of the name, Joseph - who we read about in the last portion of the end of Genesis - is Yosayf. It means: To add, to increase, to enhance. Rabbi Joe Goldman added something, increased and enhanced the lives of any of us who value Temple Micah.

Thank you, Rabbi Joe. May your memory continue to be a blessing.