One of the tragedies of my misspent youth is that I missed years of meaningful connection with the wisdom of my tribe because I thought I was “spiritual” and Judaism was not. Lacking that ancient connection, I sought spirituality in meditation, rowing, martial arts, and the Grateful Dead.
Good Shabbos! Ten years ago today, I toured the Old City of Jerusalem on Christmas Day with Mom. My film "When Do We Eat?" was playing in the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, and Mom seized the chance to visit Israel with me - something we'd never done together.
The Ten Commandments prohibit murder with just two words, while the prohibition on coveting includes fifteen. The no-coveting rule is the 10th Commandment - the climax of God's revelation at Sinai. Why?
I needed to find meaning in my mother's condition. I found two rabbis who comforted me, one from the Talmud, and one from Ohio.
My rabbi challenged me to write my theology in 100 words. This is both harder and easier than it sounds. I highly recommend the effort.
“A former member of our community has died. He had no family, so there will be no shivah. If anyone wishes to attend the burial, please see me after the meeting.”
I heard this from my rabbi during a board meeting at our synagogue. It made me sad, and I felt worse when I learned more about the deceased.
My teacher called "Salvador Litvak" on the first day of class, and I told her I go by "Alex." No one batted an eye, but deep down I felt like a coward.
It’s been a year and a half since I first shared that my mom has dementia. At the time, I found comfort in in the words of two rabbis, one ancient and one modern. I learned to stop looking for what was missing in Mom, and started seeing the person before me...
A New Year's Eve love story that almost wasn't.
Israel in general, and Jerusalem in particular, is a tangibly holy place. During my recent journey, I connected with its spiritual energy everywhere I went, and I was changed by it.
The Jewish world is not one of half measures. The highs are Mt. Everest high – like dancing the hora at a wedding – and the lows are Death Valley low.
As a hopeless romantic and generally joyful Jew, I tend to race toward those highs. I know darkness exists. I don’t hide from it. I just try to counteract it with light.
The night I experienced the reality of my soul.
I know the soul exists. Perhaps that’s not a big claim given how often people talk about souls. Despite all that attention, however, it remains difficult to know what the soul is, and how it affects our lives.
My voyage through the sea of Talmud began with a miracle and ended in transformation. I joined 90,000 Jews at MetLife Stadium to celebrate the completion of the 7 1/2 year cycle.
I was recently asked, “Sal, what kind of Jew are you?” It was not a rhetorical question.
I have had two deep mystical experiences that redirected my life. Without them, I would not be the man, husband, son, father, writer, director, or Jew I am today.