Hayom Harat Olam | Rosh Hashanah

By Rabbi Jonas Jacquelin | After each set of the shofar blowing during the Rosh Hashana service we say “Hayom Harat Olam”: “Today is the…

Read More

Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah, Averah Goreret Averah | Parashat Vayetzei

When Abraham raised his hand to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, nothing would ever remain the same regarding Isaac’s relationship to the world and to those family members close to him. Something irrevocable happened to his psyche which would influence, not only his life, but the lives of his children and grandchildren. Abraham, one could say, initiated the first “sin” by traumatizing his son Isaac while holding that knife over his head. But that one sin seemed to bring on additional sins – from Abraham to Isaac; from Isaac to Jacob. Not exactly what we usually mean when we say: “from generation to generation

Read More

On Struggles, Wholeness and Peace | Parashat Toldot

t is, in fact, quite a powerful image to imagine. The foundations of Israel and its enemy people originating in the same womb, struggling for power, quarreling with one another from their pre-birth days. But the narrative could have been told differently. We, Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could have been born by ourselves without quarrel or contention – without having to share ancestry or even a womb.  The narrative could have been anything under the sun.

Read More

The Four Children of Parashat Vayera

When talking about this week’s Torah portion, one often finds oneself discussing the question which shouts from the pages of the Torah – “what could possess a parent to sacrifice their child”? Those who are familiar with the portion will assume that this would be in relation to the famous story of the binding of Itzhak, but on closer inspection, this week’s Torah portion actually talks of four children whose parents seemed willing to sacrifice them for some greater good.

Read More

When God Says ‘Get Going’ | Parashat Lech Lecha

The Torah portion this week is called Lech lecha, which, loosely translated, means get going! God commands Abram to leave his birthplace and go to a new land that God will show him. In the first three verses of this portion, (Genesis 12:1-3) the word bracha, meaning blessing, appears five times.

Read More

On Floods, Fear and the Promise of Hope | Parashat Noach

I write this davar Torah about Noah and the Flood surrounded by a healthy dose of irony. Currently my local community and my state of South Carolina await the forthcoming chaos that Hurricane Florence will bring to our region. This is the third Hurricane in two years in which many like myself have had to endure  by evacuating from our homes, waiting for the Flood to end and anticipating the aftermath of the Hurricane’s damage to our property and our community’s spirit.

Read More

Beresheet: Pray, Act, Do

Beresheet begins our Torah-reading cycle anew. Once again, we turn the scroll over and read our people’s origin story; a mythological history that speaks to the wonder our ancestors saw when they looked at the ever-changing world around them. This parshah tells the story of how God created the world, and everything in it, through the power of God’s speech. The Torah then tells the early stories of humanity; of Adam and Eve, Cain and his brother Abel, and introduces us to Noah, whose actions will help renew Creation in next week’s reading.

Read More

Parashat Vayelech, Kol Nidre & Yom Kippur

Shana Tova, my friends across the globe.  Shana Metukah – a sweet year.  And G’mar Chatimah Tova – may you be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.  And Tzom Kal – Have an easy fast. All ways to indicate that on this coming Tuesday evening, Jews everywhere will be gathering in […]

Read More

The Purpose of Jewish Existence, Why Enter the Land | Parashat Ki Tavo

Ki Tavo – When you enter. When? May we ask Why?

In this portion we find the people of Israel told what to do when they finally enter the land of Israel after wandering in the desert for forty years.

After they settle in they are told to make another entrance, into the field or orchard and choose the first fruits and bring them to Jerusalem.

And yet another entrance is demanded of the people of Israel in this portion, entering into the covenant. An elaborate ceremony is described to be done immediately after crossing the Jordan river into the land of Israel.

How do we enter Israel? How do we leave Israel for many of us who do not live in Israel on a day to day basis? How do we live in Israel? How do we love Israel?

Read More

How to Make Peace in Hebrew? | Parashat Ki Teitzei

Recently, I listened to a song ‘Asiti’ (‘I Made / I Did’) of Israeli performer Jimbo J. The opening line of the song was ‘What does it mean ‘I served’? I did the army!’. This song showed how strong is the influence of English language on Hebrew. In Hebrew we find a long list of not-used verbs, replaced by a pair of “do/make” and an appropriate noun. So many Israelis do the army (and don’t serve in it), do the Jerusalem marathon (and don’t run it) etc.

Read More


On June 27 2018, the Supreme Court in the UK ruled that heterosexual couples may not be discriminated against concerning civil partnerships, which were originally established by the UK government for same-sex couples. Ever since the UK’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act of 2013, heterosexual couples have been calling for equality, too. Following that Supreme Court ruling, the hope is that the 2004 Civil Partnership Act will be extended to heterosexual couples. So: equal marriage, equal civil partnership: equal justice.

Read More