Danya Ruttenberg Quotes
“My commitment to my friends forced me to develop a complex ethos of pluralism on the ground. I had to find ways to practice Judaism as I understood it while, at the same time, accepting that those around me might not believe or do the exact same things that I did. I had to respect someone's choice to drive to my house on Shabbat, just as I hoped that members of other Jewish communities would respect my choice to wear a yarmulke and tzitzit or to pray in a mixed-gender setting. As Ben Dreyfus, founder of an independent minyan (prayer group) in New York, puts it, "if you want the protections of pluralism, you have to buy into pluralism yourself. This doesn't mean you have to believe that other positions are valid, but it does mean you have to respect their right to exist."15”
“Does it even need to be said that there are times when one must stand up to the community, and use one's voice in support of an unpopular view? Or that complicity is participation? Sometimes the issue at hand may concern a gross injustice, sometimes it may just be about individual boundaries. Sometimes a dissenting view will be heard and accepted, sometimes it will be ignored. None of this changes our obligation to move through the world with honesty and bravery.”
“Of course, sharing one's thoughts-dissenting or not-in any sort of context is risky. It opens us up and makes us overwhelmingly vulnerable. Sometimes it's tempting to hide, to avoid revealing who we are, lest our failures and most secret hopes are set out for evaluation. But, of course, in allowing people in, we allow ourselves the most fundamental kind of human connection, and do honor to the Divine image in which we are all created. For, as author Martha Beck wrote, "Whoever said love is blind was dead wrong. Love is the only thing on this earth that lets us see each other with the remotest accuracy.”
“Years later I would hear about the practice of using music to enter a trancelike state; Sufis, Hasidic Jews, Lakota Native Americans, and gospel choirs (to name a few) do it all the time to reach elevated states of ecstasy, to annihilate the small self in the attempt to unify with something bigger. As twentieth-century Sufi leader Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote, "It seems that the human race has lost a great deal of the ancient science of magic, but if there remains any magic it is music."2”
“person … is a mere inn for the thoughts of the world that are passing and returning, going and coming, and the essence of the person is not to be found.… Just as time and the world change, so do they [i.e., her thoughts].… First they were bad guests and now they are good, [revolving] according to the world and the day.… If a person is [truly] present in her house and in her essence, then it must be that joy will not take control of her mind and worry will not direct her so much.7”
“It’s inconvenient and it’s maddening and it’s frustrating and it’s sometimes painfully difficult to love another person, even or especially our own child. But this love is our spiritual practice. It is our work and our task down here on this mortal coil. It is not only the oxygen that we offer to our children, it’s what makes us able to breathe, ourselves.”
- Description: Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is the author of Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting (Flatiron Books, April 2016) and Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion (Beacon Press), the latter of which was nominated for the 2010 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature and a 2009 Hadassah Book Club selection. She is also editor of The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism (NYU Press) and Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism (Seal Press).She has been named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of ten "rabbis to watch," one of the top 50 most influential women rabbis, and as one of the “36 Under 36" (36 most influential leaders under age 36). She has written for the New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle, and has also appeared in the Best Jewish Writing series, the new edition of Encyclopedia Judaica, and Bitch magazine's Bitchfest, as well as many other publications. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.Rabbi Ruttenberg is also co-editor, with Rabbi Elliot Dorff, of three books for the Jewish Publication Society’s Jewish Choices/Jewish Voices series: Sex and Intimacy, War and National Security, and Social Justice. She’s also a contributing editor to Lilith and the academic journal Women and Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal and is on the editorial board of Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas.Before receiving her rabbinic ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, received her B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University and worked in San Francisco as a freelance writer. Rabbi Ruttenberg has served as Senior Jewish Educator at Tufts Hillel and Campus Rabbi at Northwestern Hillel, and currently lives in the Chicago area with her husband and sons, works with Ask Big Questions, a program out of Hillel International, and teaches and lectures nationwide.