Zero Sum God | Parashat Vayislach

Is there anything more agonizing than a child pleading to their parent for a blessing—knowing that that blessing is gone? But, was the blessing gone?…

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Parashot Behar-B’Chukotai

One of the most frequently quoted Biblical texts, especially beloved to Americans going all the way back to the period of their independence as a nation, is the phrase: “And you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land”. These formidable words were inscribed on the Liberty Bell, that icon of American history, which was hung in Philadelphia’s Assembly Hall on March 10, 1753. Yet, how many of us, Jew and Gentile alike, can actually tell you the biblical source for that quotation?

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Torah from Around the World #324

Recent Issues By: Rabbi Micah Streiffer , Rabbi of Temple Kol Ami , Thornhill, Ontario, Canada Sacred Moments The old joke says that every Jewish holiday can be summed up in three short sentences: They tried to destroy us. They failed. Let’s eat. It’s not true, of course. Our festivals are incredibly nuanced and rich […]

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Matters of Life and Death | Parashat Emor

Our Sidra begins (Leviticus 21:1-4) with God telling Moses to tell the priests not to touch a corpse, unless it is of someone in a close family relationship to them – including ‘your brother’. To be fair, God does not talk to Aharon directly at this point; this is just after two of his sons, Nadav and Avihu have been burned up whilst in the performance, it seems, of some unspecified and unscheduled ritual actions (Leviticus 10:2). Everyone is in shock – Aharon, his surviving sons Eleazar and Itamar, Moses who has lost two nephews, and anyone in the Camp who heard of what had occurred and who now has evidence, if this were needed, that when things go wrong they can go very wrong indeed. Exact details are not given, cannot be given, for there are no surviving eye-witnesses; the accident seems to have happened by itself, the fire springs up out of control, leaving God just as shocked.

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Torah from Around the World #217

Recent Issues by Rabbi Matt Cutler, Congregation Gates of Heaven , Schenectady NY I was listening to some kids practicing reading Hebrew. One child made a very interesting mistake. Instead of reading HALLEL, he read the word CHALLEL. He inadvertently made the Hebrew letter HAY a CHET. Simple mistake right? But it made me think […]

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Torah from Around the World #164

By Rabbi Grisha Abramovich, Belarus Our Torah portion this week addresses issues that may not necessarily appear to be connected at first glance. Right after the laws concerning priests, we read about the calendar of our sacred occasions: Shabbat and festivals. Then, at the end of the chapter we are told the story of someone […]

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Ancient Reform Judaism | Parashat Emor

The congregation where I grew up was the oldest congregation in the State of Illinois – yet steeped in 1960’s style social justice activism. I learned then that commandments to help the poor and the stranger were expressive of Judaism’s age-old, unchanging commitment to the most vulnerable members of society.

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Torah from around the world #64

by Rabbi Mark L. Winer, Ph.D., D.D., Senior Scholar, West London Synagogue of British Jews ; Chairman, International Interfaith Task Force of the WUPJ; and President, FAITH: the Foundation to Advance Interfaith Trust and Harmony. Spring is the season of hope. Nature restores its shining light and revives the glorious colors of its blossoms. Both Pesach […]

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Senior Lives Matter | Parashat Kedoshim

After I retired from a London pulpit six years ago, it felt as if I’d walked off a cliff.The new me wasn’t vitally participating in the lives of my congregants of all ages, nor was I bringing Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious communities together in friendship and peace, as the rabbi me had done for years. Instead I had become just another retired rabbi living in a condo development on a golf course in Florida. My meaningful life had been downgraded to the quintessential stereotype of a Jewish aging joke.

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Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself | Parashat Kedoshim

In mid-December 2013 our Synagogue in London, Alyth, had a uniquely World Union for Progressive Judaism experience. A substantial percentage of Alyth members are of South African origin, many having come to London in protest against apartheid and many others had been part of the anti-apartheid struggle in the 70s and 80s. So when Nelson Mandela died it was fitting that we held a memorial service at which all could gather. Through the World Union we are closely connected to Temple Israel in Cape Town (South Africa) who were also intending to hold a memorial service. So we did it together, with a real-time video and sound connection between the two Synagogues. We prayed together, sang together and heard each other’s stories and readings over 6000 miles.

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Torah from around the world #63

by Rabbi Ron Kronish , Director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel Parashat K’doshim contains some of the most important moral values in the Torah, values which speak to us poignantly in today’s contemporary reality wherever Jews live and especially in Israel. In Leviticus 19 verses 17-18 we find the one of the most […]

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