Author Archives: mjknopf

Saving Democracy is a Jewish Obligation

Saying that democracy itself is on the ballot has become a cliche for a reason. Experts widely agree that threats to democracy in the U.S. and around the world are rising, including the specter of political violence and election subversion … Continue reading

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When the Party’s Over — Shemini Atzeret 5783

My friend and drumming teacher, Chris Parker, once taught me a lesson about music that has always stayed with me: “Music,” he said, “is sound organized in time.” In other words, sound without time is just noise. Time without sound … Continue reading

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The World Was Created for You — Parashat Ha-Azinu 5783

The 19th century hasidic master Reb Simcha Bunim of Peshischa famously taught that a person should always carry a note in each of their pockets. On one should be written the biblical verse, “anokhi afar va-efer / I am dust … Continue reading

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Are You a Hero? — Yom Kippur 5783

By now, you’ve heard quite a bit about my sabbatical; perhaps more than you wanted to know. Apologies if that’s the case.  On Rosh Hashanah, I talked about how I tried to embrace the spirit of Shabbat by refraining from … Continue reading

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Who Are You? — Kol Nidrei 5783

During my sabbatical this summer, I began finally putting pen to paper on a project that I’d been dreaming about for some time – a series of comic books based on the weekly Torah portion, with at least one volume … Continue reading

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Why Are You Here? — Rosh Hashanah 5783

As a people that is well over three thousand years old, Jews have collectively lived through many eras of upheaval. We have endured revolutions and conquests; crusades, inquisitions and expulsions; the rise and fall of empires; civil wars and world … Continue reading


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Shabbat for Shabbat’s Sake: Parashat Sh’lakh Lekha 5782

I didn’t grow up in a sabbath-observant home. The first time I encountered traditional Shabbat observance was during my first summer at Camp Ramah in New England, when I was about 11 years old. And if I’m being totally honest, … Continue reading

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Embrace the Wilderness: Parashat Beha’alotekha 5782

One of the central tensions of the Book of Numbers is perfectly expressed by the two very different names by which it is known. In English, of course, we call it Numbers, a name derived from the book’s opening narrative … Continue reading

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Message to the Class of 2022

Delivered at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School Baccalaureate Ceremony, June 16, 2022 Let me begin by expressing my gratitude for having been invited here this evening. It is such an honor to be with you to celebrate this milestone with … Continue reading

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Punk’s Not Dead, It’s Jewish: Shavuot 5782

I couldn’t be more excited for the new FX/Hulu miniseries Pistol, which promises to tell the true story of one of my favorite bands, The Sex Pistols. I first discovered The Pistols as a teen, when my natural disposition toward … Continue reading

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