I was in Australia!

Welcoming the wonderful friends at the Union for Progressive Judaism Biennial conference in Perth, Australia. Thanks for inviting me back!

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Shabbat Shalom – You’re Doing It Wrong!

OMG! Thanks to great educator Rachel Stern for reminding us that welcoming is so important.


Susie and I Celebrating Break Fast

Susie and I celebrating break fast after a magnificent Yom Kippur with dear friends Rabbi Adrian Gottfried and Mariana Gottfried who brilliantly lead Cominidade Shalom in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was honored to give a talk before Neilah to more than 1200 congregants, many of them who have become good friends during our many visits to the incredible community. Best tip for synagogues: hand out (sealed) cups of water immediately after Havdalah!

Ron and Susie Celebrating Break Fast

An old friend in Dallas

Jack Molad, my fantastic youth educator who inspired me to leadership in USY back in Omaha, surprised me and Susie last night at the Dallas BookFest! He looks great and the crowd of 200 plus gave him a rousing ovation. Thanks Dallas JCC, dallas Jewish Historical Society, dear friends Janet and Jeff Beck and Ann and Nate Levine for bringing “Best Boy” to Big D! Loved it!


How Our Federation is “Sayin’ Thanks”

Love this! Just sayin’…

When was the last time you were thanked? By Zach Briton

Today and always, a core priority of the Federation system continues to be to raise the funds necessary to ensure that as a community, we can touch, save and change lives. At The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, we take this responsibility very seriously and are proud of the impact we are making with the dollars we have raised. But last year, as we continued to face the challenge of increasing competition for philanthropic time, talent and treasure from the many worthy causes in our community, we were faced with the question: how does our organization stand out?

[Read More]


Make ‘Fiddler’ a Christmas Eve Tradition

Check out my Jewish Journal article about my experience revisiting Tevye last week at the Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts here.

Playing the role of Tevye in a United Synagogue Youth production at Beth El Synagogue in my hometown of Omaha, Neb., in 1966.

Did you see “The Lion King?”: A Thanksgiving story

Dr. Ron Wolfson with his grandson, Gabriel Elijah, calling out: "Hakuna Metata!"

Dr. Ron Wolfson with his grandson, Gabriel Elijah, calling out: “Hakuna Metata!”

I give thanks for “The Lion King.” This month, the theatrical production celebrates eighteen years on Broadway. I first fell in love with the show when I somehow scored tickets to the press preview the night before it opened in New York City, November 13, 1997. Like everyone else in the theatre, Susie and I were blown away by the phenomenal artistry of the piece – the spectacular costumes and puppetry portraying the animals of Pride Rock, the engaging music, and the story of family continuity. There have only been a handful of times in a Broadway show when I’ve completely lost it: the opening “Tradition” scene of “Fiddler on the Roof” sitting next to my Grandma Celia, the climactic fight scene when James Earl Jones as Jack Johnson prevails against “The Great White Hope,” and watching the enormous puzzle pieces of Mufasa’s face come together as Simba sees his reflection as the “He Lives in You” scene unfolds.

Back in 1997, we couldn’t wait to share the show with our children, Havi and Michael. They, of course, loved the original animated film, even though a beloved character dies. Once again, I cried tears of joy observing our kids sobbing in recognition when Simba realizes his place in “the circle of life.”

Fast forward eighteen years. Havi is now herself a mother of a five year old, Ellie Brooklyn, and a two year old, Gabriel Elijah. “Mom, Dad,” Havi exclaimed on the phone as we planned our visit to celebrate Ellie’s fifth birthday, “the national company of ‘The Lion King’ is in town…” I didn’t wait for her to finish the sentence. “Don’t say another word,” I said. “I’ll get tickets. Gabe is too young for a three hour show, but I think Ellie will love it!” “I know, I know,” Havi cried, barely containing her anticipation.

And so it was on October 4, 2015, when Bubbie Susie and Zaydie Ronnie walked hand in hand with Ellie and Mommy Havi toward the San Jose Center for Performing Arts, while wonderful Daddy Dave took Gabe to the park. The plaza in front of the theatre was crowded with other grandparents, parents and children of all ages eagerly awaiting the show. Once inside, we bought a stuffed Baby Simba doll and a program before settling into our seats. As we waited for the curtain to rise, miraculously, Ellie lifted the Baby Simba doll high over her head and rocked it back and forth even though Havi had decided not to show the movie to Ellie, wanting her instead to experience the story as told in the theatre. From the moment Rafiki began her call to the incredible puppet animals to walk down the aisles and gather on stage, Ellie sat transfixed in awe. Havi, of course, was not watching the show; her entire gaze was on her daughter. And, of course, Havi was a basket case.

I knew this because Susie and I were not watching the show either! We were watching our daughter watching her daughter experience the glory that is a live stage performance of “The Lion King.” Three generations sitting together in the dark of a theatre with souls illuminated by the power of music, art, and storytelling. It was magical…and, of course, I cried like a baby.

When the climactic “He Lives in You” scene unfolded once again, I was overwhelmed with images of my parents. My mother Bernice died six years ago; my father, Alan, three years ago, God bless their souls. How they would have loved this moment! My mother was in a delirium for several days during the week before she died, but when she awoke and saw Susie and me standing next to her hospital bed, the first words out of her mouth were: “Is Havi pregnant?” It was a cry of hope for the future of her family.

This is the reason I wrote my new book, The Best Boy in the United States of America: A Memoir of Blessings and Kisses (Jewish Lights Publishing). Excuse the pun, but Is there any greater dream than our “line” continues? Is there anything more powerful than family to shape our identities and destinies? This is the compelling message we transmit through storytelling. So, in addition to turkey and football, let’s spend some time at our Thanksgiving tables telling our stories and marveling at the wonder of generational continuity.

At Gabe’s brit milah, I was given the honor of being the sandak, the grandfather who holds the baby during the ritual circumcision. The moyel did his business in a few minutes, but Havi has the creative gene from Susie, so the bris was a wonderful celebration, with readings for each family member, explanations of the baby’s names, songs, poems, and reflections. But it took a good forty-five minutes. The baby did fine, sucking on a gauze pad soaked with wine. But, forty-five minutes?! Finally, the service was over, and everyone erupted in song, “Siman tov, u’mazal tov!” I don’t know what came over me, but as the singing came to an end, I stood up, held the baby high over my head, and yelled, “Hakuna metata!”

Did you see “The Lion King?”

Ron Wolfson: A precious gift from his Zayde and Bubbe

Overwhelmed to have Jonathan Kirsch’s blessing in this wonderful review of “Best Boy!’ What a precious birthday gift!!! Thank you, @JonathanKirsch and Jewish Journal​!
The Jewish community in Southern California is richly blessed with high-profile pulpit rabbis, and we tend to turn to these influential women and men when we want to know about Jewish identity and practice. But respect must be paid, too, to those whose teaching takes place outside the pulpit. Ron Wolfson, a beloved Jewish educator and author of “The Art of Jewish Living Series” and other influential books on Jewish observance and values, is one such figure.

Review of “Best Boy” in Long Beach Jewish Life Magazine

Wow! Thanks to Jon Strum @LongBeachJewishLife magazine for a terrific review of “Best Boy” @JewishLightsPublishing!

Check out the review here.

Yom Kippur: Just A Littler Lower Than The Angels

On the High Holy Days, we all become authors. We look back on the past year, recalling our good deeds and misdeeds, and look forward to a New Year when we write the next chapter in our Book of Life. During the Ten Days of Awe-someness, the traditional liturgy assures us that teshuvah – return, tefilla – reflection, and tzedakah – righteous acts of justice will ensure a year of meaning, and purpose, belonging and blessing. The rabbis had a name for this process: cheshbon ha-nefesh, an accounting of the soul. Read More.

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