Writings Index

Altar Ego/Weekly Reader Archives: HaMakom 2002-2012

Commentary: Letters from Congregants to the Rabbi

One-minute Judaism

One-minute Torah


Torah Writings
Eikev Contemporary Reflection For those who find physical descriptions of God inadequate, the natural world may prove more helpful. We may imagine God as hatzur (“the Rock”), a solid, majestic natural object, or we may peek at the Mind that repeats a pleasing symmetry throughout nature in the sacred geometry of a leaf.

Lech Lecha Shlomo Carlebach, alav hashalom, used to say that if we knew that Moshiah was going to be at Madison Square Garden tomorrow, most of us wouldn’t go…

Miketz The prisoner cannot secure his own liberation from prison. My rabbi, Harold Schulweis, once said that the trajectory was Torah, Talmud, and Freud.

Va’era The second book of Moses is the Book of Names, and it is in this book that the children of Israel will acquire a new name.

Tazria What’s a feminist to do with the opening verses of this portion: “And Adonai spoke to Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman (conceives and) gives birth to a boy…
Ha’azinu We wander through life searching for bridges to move us closer to each other and nearer to God.

D’vrei Torah At our first gathering Jonathan gave us an arrow of intention for the week: Listen. But–to what? For what?

The Torah of Loving Kindness Once upon a time every rabbinical union sent out the subject to be discussed on High Holidays.

The Torah of Money When I wrote my first book, my grandmother, aleha hashalom, who had little Jewish practice or belief, said to me, “So you’ll give something to the temple.”

The Torah of Healing This sermon, the Torah of healing, is the Santa Fe sermon.

The Torah of Death Why talk about about our least favorite topic in a society that adores youth and vigor?

The Torah of Fire Torah is sometimes likened to fire. It is the Aish HaTorah, the fire of Torah that warms–and burns–as we draw near to God’s message for us.

An Embrace of Light We are a people who revere the question as the mark of one who is awake and free.

The Power of Touch Here we see how leadership is formally bequeathed and most importantly, what the qualities of the leader need to be.

Why Do I Preach? I preach because I have to.

What I Learned in Rabbinical School It may surprise you to hear what I didn’t learn.

Why I am a Reform Rabbi When my parents became Reform Jews, they fit into a generation who found traditional Judaism irrelevant, embarrassing, and oppressive.

Ordination Speech “It may take a village to raise a child, but it took a city the size of Manhattan to make me a rabbi.”

The Havurah as a Conscious Community of Healing Sometimes the right question gives us the answer. The first time I conducted a seder someone asked me what I wanted to happen that evening.

Why I’m Not a Yankee Fan Tonight I’m going to talk about baseball. It is not only timely, it fits our Torah portion, Bereshit. In the big inning, right?


Jewish Holidays
REBBE LONGING, Erev Rosh Hashanah 5772, From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven.

Who Shall Live, Who Shall Die, Who Can Bear This Prayer? Rosh Hashanah Morning, 5772.

WALK HUMBLY IN YOUR DESPAIR: An Uplifting High Holiday Sermon, 5772. …it is to explore what I’ve observed is most useful for living to in uncertain and challenging times, and how to keep going and growing.

HOW THIS RABBI PRAYS, Yom Kippur, 5771,September 18, 2010 What I want to talk about this morning is how to open the window to prayer.

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: HOLY LISTENING, Kol Nidre, 5771, “A rabbi has two tasks: to bring forth creativity in others and to reveal oneself.”
Hanukkah …this year this is the gift I want this Hanukkah: to look forward with the joy of a five year-old and to remember that the highest wisdom is joy.

Hanukkah Teaching “What’s the best holiday? Hanukkah, of course.

Being Jewish Enough and Hanukkah We do not cede authentic Judaism to those who do or know “more” than others.

The Fifth Candle A story about faith, the Holocaust and a special menorah on Hanukkah.

GROWING A HEART OF WISDOM: THE PATH OF THE SAGE, Kol Nidre 5770. I’ve waited until Kol Nidre, the highest and deepest night of the year, to talk about a new way understand our lives and our relationships to the generations before and after us.

WHY ISRAEL, Rosh Hashanah Morning 5770, When I began to think about the future of Judaism, I asked friends what came to mind for them…. I’m going to tell you about the Israel I love and why I see it as key to the future of Judaism.

THE BEST NEWS IN JUDAISM TODAY: JEWISH RENEWAL, Erev Rosh Hashanah 5770, … it’s important to remember that Judaism is still here because it’s been elastic enough to grow and learn how to remain potent for each generation.

Elul, August 31, 2009. Today is the eleventh day of this lovely month that brings us closer to the Source.

How We Do Business Erev Rosh Hashanah 5769,September 29, 2008. How we do business is the bedrock of all relationships.

Study As A Ladder To Heaven Rosh Hashanah Morning 5769,September 30, 2008 What a wonderful technology we have that commands us not only not to rejoice but to think!

Did You Keep Faith for the Future? Kol Nidre 5769, October 8, 2008 May the New Year bring us hope for the future, and may we find it in our embrace of the children of this generation.

5769-It is mortality that gives meaning to life. Harold Schulweis would ask his students, “What will they say at your funeral?”

A Time of Caution-Tisha B’Av When I was a child and I’d ask my father when something was going to happen, he’d answer, “Tisha B’Av.”

A Time of Caution, 2005: Tisha B’Av … the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, is known as a black fast.

Teshuvah This is the time of year to know about the High Holidays.

Selichot, 2005 If we want forgiveness, we have to offer it and ask for our own.

Selichot Selichot and the night of forgiveness, a step essential to the healing of the heart.

Wrestling the Fifth Commandment Erev Rosh Hashanah, 5768, 2007 I will begin at the beginning, which is in our families of origin, because it is with our parents, our first leaders, that we learn how to live in community.

Enlightened Leadership Rosh Hashanah 5768, 2007 In truth, the path to enlightened leadership applies to anyone who has the charge to show the way, including parents, as we discovered last night.

The Longest Hatred, Erev Rosh Hashanah, 5767, 2006…Unless you’ve been sitting in a cave for the last five years, you know only too well that the world is trembling for its life, and we have been chosen to bear witness.

ISRAEL, Rosh Hashanah 5767, 2006…I doubt that there is a High Holiday congregation anywhere in the world that is not talking about Israel.

5768 In preparation for the sea crossing of our community, I’m going to speak this year about enlightened leadership, the relationship between parents and children, and conscious community.

SACRED COMMUNITY Kol Nidre 5768, 2007 Since we began the High Holidays looking at the relationship with our parents as our first leaders and our families of origin as our first community, this evening, the holiest night of the year, I’d like to explore how and why we gather together as a community.

5767 -This year I’m inviting you to think not only within but as a member of an ancient civilization that, despite all odds, still exists. I trust that we have much to learn and teach among the nations.
Welcoming the Stranger, Kol Nidre, October 1, 5767….Convert and Jew by Choice are graceless words that don’t do justice to the love, faith, hope, and courage of those who people want to claim Judaism and the Jewish people.

Awakening the hero within, Erev Rosh Hashanah, 2005… I invite you to look at the differences between what the world calls a hero and how our tradition defines it.

Jewish American Heroes Rosh Hashanah, October, 2005, When I was a child, I loved to read biographies, especially about sickly kids who overcame great obstacles….

Varieties of Heroism, Yom Kippur, Kol Nidre, October, 2005. What does being the smaller one have to do with heroism? Everything. It’s the counterintuitive path.
Rosh Hashanah … celebrates the creation of the world, yet nowhere in the service do we read about creation.

ISRAEL Erev Roshanah 5763 We come to High Holidays with less optimism and hope than in past years.

BEING A BLESSING Rosh Hashanah 5764 Rosh Hashanah, the value of prayer and tradition.

LIVING WITH FEAR Kol Nidre 5764 These are the Days of Awe, the days of fear, and tonight’s teaching is about fear: how it affects us, how to live with it, and how we can learn from it.

RADICAL AMAZEMENT-Yom Kippur Day 5764 We live with fear not only because we have no choice but because it may help us to live.

Behaving in God And if self-examination weren’t daunting enough, don’t we question, especially when the sermon gets too long, why we bother being Jews?

The Technology of Judaism I can tell you that there is a way to live in these times with peace of mind and hope.

The Light and the Dark of the High Holidays We’ve been traveling together since Selichot to a place of hard scrutiny and courage.

The Days of Awe: September 11, 2001 and After I write books for children. I have two rules: they can’t be dull and they must, no matter how frightening or sad, offer hope.

The Kabbalah of Prayer No matter how faithful or optimistic you may be, I doubt that there is anyone in this room who does not grieve and worry about these times in which we live.

The Kabbalah of Belief it’s good to know that to be a Jew is a glorious mix of meaning that includes reaching beyond the physical realm to speak to our deepest questions.

The Kabbalah of Righteous Generosity But Tzedakah means justice, it isn’t about emotion.

The Kabbalah of Community You cannot be a Jew alone, and we can do together what we cannot do alone.

Community High Holidays and what they mean to Jews as a community.

Eco-Kashrut …whether we Jews, so long an urban people, have any relationship with the natural world.

A Kabbalat Shabbat Sermon-the Shabbat of Memory We are a people with strong association to memory. It is our weapon against disappearance…

Tu B’Sh’vat: The Trees Birthday Tu B’Sh’vat, the New Year of the Trees, is one of the few Jewish holidays that isn’t connected to a historical event.

Chol Ha-Moed Shabbat It’s eight days to Passover and I’m already crazy with getting ready…

Shabbat Hagadol Even if you knew nothing about Passover, you’d know that it was a big deal by all that precedes it.

Numbering My Days Counting the omer for the forty-nine days between the second day of Pesah and Shavuot is slightly outside my practice.

The Book of Ruth If she were alive, I’d do anything to get an interview with her.


Life Cycles-Rabbinic
His Memory is a Blessing I’m OK and even grateful I had him for so long. Still, I have trouble imagining my life without him, especially since he was not only my father, but a teacher and friend.

Age-ing to Sage-ing An elder is someone still growing, still learning, and still with potential. Life continues to have promise and a connection to the future.

Life Watch So it’s not a death watch but a life watch. I’m watching a person who always enjoyed and appreciated life do it with even greater gratitude. Every morning he awakens now is a miracle.

A Celebration of Wise Women October 2007 Shemini Atzeret means “the eighth day of assembly”, an extra day added solely to extend the party we never want to end….We’d like to so many things to last a little longer: vigor, vacations, summer, and time itself.

Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a liminal event that is more than learning prayers and verses of Torah and Haftarah, especially for those who choose it at mid-life.

Life Cycles-Brit Milah …brit milah as a powerful statement about our relationship to a shared history.

Life Cycles-Hendrix Exercises I have already recommended Hendrix, along with Diamant’s book, for all couples with whom I will be working in preparation for marriage.

Life Cycles-Intermarriage Letter Rabbi Drucker’s letter to a couple regarding intermarriage.

Accommodating to an Intramarriage How I Learned to Live with Six Sets of Dishes.

Childbirth -Tazria There is nothing ambivalent in our tradition about the birth of a child…

The Torah of Death Whether we speak of endings, ultimate passage, or last adventure, it is death we’re talking about..

Eulogy for Leslie Davis, January 30, 2006 In her final weeks, Leslie said that she wanted everyone who so desired to speak at her funeral. What she didn’t consider is that if we did this, we would be here until the messiah graciously joined us in this room packed way beyond the fire marshal’s nightmare.

By the time I became a rabbi at 53, I knew a few things. I wanted to bring people closer to God, I wanted to share what I knew of my beloved Judaism, and I didn’t want to be bored.


Poetry, Meditations
Francine Chermak Of the many things I’ve learned since my mother’s death, the sweetest lesson has been the discovery of what it means to be a blessing.

The Baseball Glove When I was eight years old, I lived and died baseball.

My Grandson and the Coming of the Messiah The birth of a grandson and thoughts on Shevat and the coming of the Messiah.

Requiem for Harriet Here is the little sacrifice I made for our loving and loyal friend.

Tiger Lily Each year, tiger lily, your blazing visit leaves memories.

Bonsai Bonsai trees, chaim and life away from home studying to become a rabbi.

Cherry Tomato Children, parents, patience and a tomato.

Tehilat L’Malka After I gave birth…

The Eleventh Commandment Thou shalt bring forth the feminine in the the world in all that you do.

Imotenu prayer

Recipe for Minestrone Soup The recipe for Minestrone soup you’ve all had at my house.


Contemporary Issues Rabbinic and Secular
The Day Mother Changed Her Name and Other Stories In the title story of his mesmerizing collection of tales, Bill Kaufman explains how his immigrant mother outsmarted his third-grade teacher, Miss Brady, who demanded that his mother explain why she didn’t write a note to excuse his absence at Passover.

WOMEN AND COURAGE: Saving All Beings When I met non-Jews who had risked their lives to save Jews in the Holocaust, every story astonished me, yet the stories that the women told me were the most remarkable.

Women and Judaism-the introduction (May 2009) Although traditional Jewish sources make clear that the One of Infinite Names in non-corporeal and therefore without a sex, when we speak of being in the Image of God, women as well men struggle not to imagine maleness. This book is a modern midrash of Judaism through women’s experience.

Rabbi Malka Drucker’s presentation of HaMakom’s history, the Rabbi’s relationship to HaMakom past, present and future. July 23, 2007.

Burn, Sister, Burn … women have become in the last twenty-five years far more visible in the workplace, perhaps the most revolutionary place that they have entered is in the realm of spiritual leadership.

The Christian Science Monitor, October 3, 2002 Editorial Commentary by Rabbi Malka Drucker As hope wrestles fear for a grip on our imaginations, conversations with family and friends, co workers and neighbors, circle the violent juggernaut that we feel increasingly unable to influence.

September 11, 2001, and After the liturgy of the this High Holiday season suddenly made a new, brilliant kind of sense in the aftermath of the World Trade Center’s destruction.

Eliezer Ben-Yehudah: Father of Modern Hebrew We Jews often struggle to define what Judaism is.

The Fear of Good News You what a Jewish telegram is? It reads, “Start worrying. Details to follow.”

A Jewish Time Capsule Never has there been so much written about a date in modern Jewish history than the secular year 2000.

Eco-Kashrut All human beings have one important thing in common: we are in environmental crisis.

The Power of Positive Speaking The Power of Positive Speaking and lashon ha ra, otherwise known as malicious gossip.

Congregational Dynamics Portraits of Leadership Portraits of leadership.

A Personal Theology  This summer I discovered, through a concentrated survey of ideas that tested both my conscious and unconscious understanding of things, the origin and context of my thought.

Spiritual Women …one way to understand the Talmud’s words is to see the black fire as masculine and the white fire as feminine.

What symbols will speak What symbols will speak for the effort made to become a rabbi…

What Do We Owe the Righteous Gentiles In Israel recently, I interviewed 21 “righteous gentiles” -those who reached out to us, those who saved Jewish lives, those who were not silent when even God could not be heard.

Holocaust Rescuers a book about remarkable people who risked everything to save Jews marked for death during the Holocaust.

A Commencement Speech About Altruism “Some of you may think you have troubled children. We don’t see it that way. We see them as children with a deeper question. They are looking for a higher purpose, an altruistic meaning to their lives.”

Following Odysseus My son had begun life fitfully and had always been a demanding child.

The Secret Matzo Balls The secret to great matzo balls.

The Selling of a First Book-You Can Do it, Too “What’s the name of your book, dear?”

Rabbi Drucker’s Letter to the Santa Fe New Mexican about Peace conflict and the deaths of children in Israel.

Requiem for Harriet The wagging tail is my sign. She’s been sick for so long, over a year, maybe two now, so it’s no surprise.


Women and Judaism

Jewish American Heroes

Holocaust Rescuers

Jacob’s Rescue

Frida Kahlo

The Sea Monster’s Secret

A Jewish Holiday ABC

Grandma’s Latkes

The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays

Women Spiritual Leaders

Jewish Holiday Books

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda

Celebrating Life

Tom Seaver Portrait of a Pitcher

How a Television Show is Made

The George Foster Story


Short Stories

The Widest Heart So forgive me, Marcia, wherever you are, and I hope you read this.