Ha'azinu: Who are we? Q&As About Jews and Judaism

As I noted last week, I am again conducting High Holiday services aboard a cruise ship in Europe.  The ports are beautiful.  Yet, as Barbara and I walk the streets and admire the architecture – especially the magnificent churches and ... Continue Reading »

Nitzavim-Vayelech: The Choice is Yours.

Nitzavim-Vayelech: The Choice is Yours.
This High-Holiday season, I will again, B”H, have the opportunity to lead services aboard a cruise-ship. (Where better to practice self-denial/to “afflict my soul” by fasting?)   The cruise line’s “Instructions t... Continue Reading »

Ki Tavo: "Altaring" our habits

Ki Tavo: "Altaring" our habits
I read recently that the number of calories we eat is determined more by habit than hunger.  To lose weight, therefore, it’s vital to create healthier “automatic” eating habits (e.g., use smaller plates, eat with the non-domina... Continue Reading »

Re'eh: Fame! Remember My Name (for a blessing)!

Re'eh: Fame! Remember My Name (for a blessing)!
Why do we bury damaged or illegible Torah scrolls and prayerbooks?  And why is there a Jewish tradition of not writing out the word “G-d?”  Both practices derive from this week’s Torah portion, Re’eh.  In it, Mo... Continue Reading »

Ekev: Ask not what religion can do for you…

Ekev: Ask not what religion can do for you…
On your next visit to the mall, notice the advertising’s dominant theme: “Our product/service is all about you!”   Apparently, narcissism sells even better than sex appeal.  Presumably, advertisers are playing to a fund... Continue Reading »
Jul 26

Va-ethannan: The "Jewish Faith."

Va-ethannan: The "Jewish Faith."
Do you have faith in G-d above if the Bible tells you so?   American songwriter Don MacLean posed this question in his 1971 rock music ballad “American Pie.”   For many, perhaps most, Jews, this question does not resonate ... Continue Reading »

Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel

Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel
This week I participated in the Rosh Chodesh (new month) Women of the Wall [WOTW – womenofthewall.org.il] service at the Kotel (Western Wall).   You might find my observations and thoughts of interest.  [Introduction: If you are fa]... Continue Reading »
Jul 12
Posted in: Israel

Matot-Massei: Prayer as Refuge, Cities of Shema

Matot-Massei: Prayer as Refuge, Cities of Shema
This week’s Torah portion mandates the establishment of cities of refuge for accidental killers: Among the cities you shall give to the Levites, shall be six cities of refuge, which you shall provide [as places] to which a manslayer can flee... Continue Reading »

Pinchas: Exercising our Privilege

Pinchas: Exercising our Privilege
(Given at Kehillat Moreshet Yisrael, Jerusalem) A few years ago, I read an “historical novel” by Howard Fast called My Glorious Brothers.  Its narrator – Simon ben Mattathias – tells how his father killed a man to prev... Continue Reading »

Balak: Better Depressed Than Dead!

Balak: Better Depressed Than Dead!
In this week’s Torah portion, King Balak of Moab hires the prophet Balaam to: “Come, curse Jacob for me and come invoke wrath against Israel.”  Balaam describes Israel as “a nation that will dwell alone, and will not be r... Continue Reading »
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If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists.
Jewish Proverb