It was cold and windy on the last morning of our trip to the Rio Grande Valley. We sat at a wooden table toward the back of the restaurant, warming ourselves with coffee and eating breakfast tacos. Cindy took notes as our companions, the pastor of an Eagle Pass church and two of his parishioners, spoke about their community and some of its most pressing challenges. For two hours, they spoke of crushing…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on December 4, 2013 at 9:00am — No Comments
As I write this, I am sitting at my kitchen table while my ten-year old, home from school today with a fever, watches a movie upstairs. It is a bright, beautiful fall day in Austin, Texas—and part of me wants to turn off my computer and my cell phone, make a pot of soup, and sit on the couch under the covers with my son. Maybe I’ll do those things later.
Now, though, I’m watching my news feed for more stories about last week’s…Continue
The government shutdown drags on. Watching Congress’ continued “incredible ineptitude,” as the United Methodist Women have called it, with increasing frustration, incredulity, and a sense of powerlessness, I now find myself feeling towards our elected officials the way a preschool teacher feels toward three-year olds who won’t share their toys.
I know. I’ve taught preschoolers. Also, I’m a…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on October 14, 2013 at 9:00am — No Comments
Jewish communities around the world read the Biblical story of Noah and The Flood this week. For most of my life, I’ve thought that this story is horrible. Sure, the idea that God cares enough about all life to include every species of animal in an escape plan is nice…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on October 3, 2013 at 9:02am — No Comments
As I write this, the first of the Jewish High Holy Days, Rosh Hashana, is less than two days away—and (to paraphrase Rabbi Alan Lew), I am completely unprepared.
The month of Elul, now rapidly coming to a close, is meant to be a time of preparation. During this month, we sound the shofar every day—its blast meant to rouse us from the slumber of our lives, to shake us into…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on September 4, 2013 at 12:00pm — No Comments
On a recent, overcast Thursday evening, I co-led a presentation in San Marcos, Texas, about creating a local, interfaith environmental network. I didn’t know what to expect; in retrospect, I guess I didn’t expect much. San Marcos is a small town compared to the other cities in which I’ve offered this presentation. I wondered whether enough people would even be interested.
We met in one of the basement…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on May 14, 2013 at 9:00am — No Comments
My Christian friend LeeAnne got the conversation about Faithful Advocacy started by reflecting on a passage from the Gospel of John: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth...” (14:16-17a).
In LeeAnne’s reflection, she explains that advocacy—“speaking up for the powerless and working for justice”—is a Christian…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on March 13, 2013 at 11:00am — No Comments
It was the opening day of the Texas Legislative session, and our Interfaith Service of Public Witness was off to a rocky start.
A few minutes before the start time, three of the participating speakers still hadn’t arrived. The visitor’s lot was unexpectedly full, and I knew they were out there circling downtown streets, searching for parking.
It was raining. Instead of having our service outside on the South Steps with a podium and a microphone as planned, we moved inside to…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on January 14, 2013 at 7:00am — No Comments
“Mom, I’m hungry. Can I have your grapes?”
“Sure,” I replied—even though I’d been counting on that handful of grapes to carry me through the next few hours until dinner. It was Day 6 of my community’s Food Stamp Challenge, for which I’d committed to limit my food spending to the equivalent of “food stamp” benefits, $31.50 per person, for one week—and I was hungry. But I didn’t…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on November 15, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments
Over the High Holidays, my rabbi asked our congregation to participate in a week-long Food Stamp Challenge—to limit our food spending to the equivalent of “food stamp” benefits, $31.50 per person, for one week. “What a great way to raise awareness about hunger, poverty, and food issues in our community!” I thought.
I liked the idea of people in my congregation participating in…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on October 30, 2012 at 8:49am — No Comments
In the Jewish calendar, we have entered the month of Elul—a month of preparation that leads into the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Elul is a time to reflect on our lives, actions and choices over the last year. It is a time of increased prayer, careful review, and gentle sifting.
In Jewish prayer and liturgy, God is often referred to as “the King”—language and an image that, for me, can seem aloof and distant. But during…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on August 24, 2012 at 1:18pm — No Comments
This is an edited version of a sermon Robinson delivered at First Unitarian Universalist Church, Austin, on Sunday, July 22nd. In the sermon, she enters into conversation with a sermon Dr. Robert Jensen delivered at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Austin, two weeks earlier. Jensen's sermon was entitled, "Hope Is for the Lazy: The Challenge of Our Dead…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on July 24, 2012 at 10:39pm — No Comments
More than one of my politically and religiously liberal friends, when I told them I was converting to Judaism, gave as one of their first responses, “What about Israel?”
Good question. What about Israel?
I’ve understood all along that committing to the Jewish people and tradition also included coming into relationship with Israel—but the history and the issues seemed so complex that I have been reluctant to say much, to anyone, about anything related to the “Jewish…Continue
Some of the trails in the preserve behind our house are clear and distinct, but others end in a tangle of yaupon and cedar, or suddenly open to a clearing with no obvious way forward. One day, my oldest son led the way as we walked along what seemed like a clear path… but then the path disappeared. My son kept walking. “Zeke,” I called, “I don’t think this is a trail.” He kept going. “Zeke,” I called again. He turned around. “Mom, this really is a trail,” he said, matter-of-factly. “It’s…Continue
We are walking now. Together, in the wilderness, walking. It’s hot, and dry. Sometimes there’s no water, or the water we find has a bitter taste. We haven’t always known where our next meal will come from. Some people wish we’d never left Egypt, and there’s a lot of complaining. Some days are really hard.
In these days in-between Pesach and Shavuot, between the Jewish festivals of liberation and revelation, we walk—and we count. Beginning on the second night of Pesach, we count each…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on April 18, 2012 at 9:00am — No Comments
When I was done speaking, I walked back to my seat in one of the front pews. The conference broke for lunch a few minutes later and as I stuffed my spiral notebook into my backpack, the morning session’s first speaker came over and shook my hand. It was an honor to meet the director of a religiously-based international relief organization; it was even more an honor, to speak right after he had that morning.
As I shook his hand, I thanked him for his work and was about to say more when…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on February 26, 2012 at 5:00am — No Comments
Once upon a time—not too long ago—I thought religious women’s groups were destined to be a relic of the past, and that was okay by me. Women of previous generations needed women's groups; in them, they organized for women’s rights, public schools, health services, and so much more. For those pioneering women, coming together in congregations for mutual support, encouragement, and communication was vital and essential. Religious women’s groups were activist training grounds, places of refuge,…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on February 4, 2012 at 3:00pm — No Comments
[During January, State of Formation entered into a collaboration with The Interfaith Observer to address the subject of meaning making. Eight contributors from various faith and ethical traditions were asked to describe what makes meaning within their practices and/or tradition.]
The forecast for name-your-environmental-crisis-here often looks bleak. People who…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on January 14, 2012 at 6:04pm — No Comments
This was my first visit to the Zen Center. One of the Buddhist priests had invited me to encourage his students to engage in interfaith environmental work. I was a little nervous, but something about this group—their open spirit, perhaps, and honest questions—quickly put me at ease and helped me speak from the heart. At some point, I found myself saying, “The Buddhist tradition has beautiful teachings about how all life is interconnected, and the world desperately needs this wisdom!…Continue
Added by Yaira Robinson on January 9, 2012 at 4:00am — No Comments
“But Mom, we can't celebrate Hanukkah—because then Santa won’t come, right?”
This was the question from my clearly worried 7-year old last December as we prepared to celebrate our first Hanukkah. And just like that, all of the confusing family issues surrounding my conversion to Judaism were distilled into one simple, innocent wondering. In that moment, standing there in the kitchen with my youngest son, there was really only one answer: “No, sweetie… Santa loves…Continue