Rabbi Yair Robinson

Rabbi Yair Robinson

Inside Leadership
Group of songleaders sitting outdoors at a summer camp holding guitars and wearing all white as if on Shabbat

What does it mean when we ask the question “How can synagogues be more like camp?” As Jewish professionals, we often think about how we can get more kids to go to Jewish camp, and we think programmatically: Can we make the religious school experience more camp-like, or can we make our worship experience more camp-like? We tend to think of making synagogues more like camp in terms of experiences or programs: the music of camp-style services, the informal education, and the like.

What I have learned, however, is that making synagogues more like camp isn’t about programs, or guitar at...

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United Hebrew Congregation in Cuba

I recently traveled throughout Cuba with 16 congregants from Beth Emeth in Wilmington, DE. At each stop, as we engaged with the island’s history, its challenges, its people, and especially its Jewish communities, I was reminded of the story of Bonchi the Silent.

Bonchi was a poor, righteous man who accepted every heartache and trouble in his life without objection. Upon his death, he ascended the very heights of heaven to the Throne of God, whereupon The Holy One, surrounded by all God’s hosts, offered Bonchi anything as a reward for his piety. In response, the man took only some...

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“Death penalty repeal bill fails.” That was roughly the headline in the Delaware News Journal the morning of January 29 after a long, powerful, and exhausting debate the day before. There was finality to that headline, as if the issue arose in a day and vanished into the night. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am a relative newcomer to the work of repealing the death penalty in the First State. Congregants and activists throughout Delaware, including my congregants Connie Kreshtool and Sonia Sloan, have been fighting the good fight longer than many of us have been alive....

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The Ba’al Shem Tov said: There are two ways to serve God. One is to separate yourself from people and from the world’s affairs, and to devote yourself wholly to a study of religious books. This is the safe way. The other way is to mingle with people, to engage in the affairs of the world, and at the same time, to try to be an example of godliness. This way has its dangers, but it is far the more worthy.

During the summer, I accepted an invitation to preach about “the human family” at an Episcopal church this coming Sunday. As I prepare, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the...

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It’s Shabbat morning. The air is clear and cold, but the sun is shining, without a cloud in the sky. I’m standing on a hill, looking down at a farm; a few hawks circle overhead. In this moment, I share my thoughts with the 20 or so people who are gathered - children and parents, teens, empty nesters, a few older folks - that we can pretend that we’re the only people in the world, that we’ve left civilization behind. That we can quiet the distractions that chase us, even on Shabbat, that we can quiet our own selves and reach inward for that moment of menucha, of real rest of the soul. We...

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