Siddur Class For This Saturday March 24th

Siddur Class For This Saturday March 24th
This week’s (3/24) Opening the Jewish Treasure Chest: the Siddur class will take place at 1:30 pm.  After reviewing the seven “rubrics” of the daily morning prayer service and their themes, we will explore the image-rich and Kabbalah-inspired prayers and traditions for donning tallit (prayer shawl) and t’fillin (phylacteries).  Please review these prayers in your siddur and bring your tallit and t’fillin!  Women don't wear t'fillin, you might say??? See the accompanying image!  
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Vayikra: A Different “Approach” to “Sacrifice”

Vayikra: A Different “Approach” to “Sacrifice”

This week, Jews all over the world are beginning to study the book of Leviticus, or in Hebrew, ויקרא Vayikra, which means: “And He Called.”  The reference is to G-d calling to Moses to tell him what to say to the Israelites.  Leviticus contains some of the loftiest, most inspiring passages in the entire Hebrew Bible, such as Love your neighbor as yourselfYou shall be holy, and Proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all the inhabitants thereof.   But Vayikra also contains much “gory” material on a subject that most of us would prefer to disregard as distasteful and archaic: animal sacrifices. 

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Mar 21

Vayakhel-P'kudei: Virtue and Leadership

Vayakhel-P'kudei: Virtue and Leadership

Now that Purim has passed, we look ahead to the holidays ofPesachandShavuot.They mark our liberation from Egypt and, seven weeks thereafter (hence, the holiday's name), our receipt of Torah. These were the formative events in the birth of the Jewish nation. All nations, most especially young ones, need leaders who inspire public confidence. George Washington has been called "the one indispensable man" of American history, and certainly not only because of (indeed, perhaps in spite of) his military aptitude. Moses could hardly be less a seminal figure for the Jewish nation. Yet, he was not its only key leader.

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Mar 15

Ki Tissa: Moses’ Horns: Not a Mistranslation

Ki Tissa: Moses’ Horns: Not a Mistranslation

This week’s Torah portion contains one of the most fateful words in the history of the Jewish people!  That word is קרן “keren.”  ...   In the 4th century, St. Jerome translated the Bible from Hebrew into Latin.  His translation eventually became the official version of the Roman Catholic Church.  According to this week’s parashah, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai bearing the two tablets in his hand, he didn’t know that קָרַן עוֹר פָּנָיו בְּדַבְּרוֹ אִתּוֹ.”   Jerome translated this phrase into Latin as “cornuta esset facies sua ex consortio sermonis Dei” – “his face was horned from the conversation with the Lord.” 

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Feast or Fast? The Politics of Purim

Feast or Fast? The Politics of Purim
Today (Wednesday, March 7, 2012), the thirteenth day of the Hebrew month of Adar, is תענית אסתר: the "Fast of Esther."  Traditionally, by which I usually mean "as established by the rabbis of the Talmudic era," today is a day of fasting to commemorate Mordechai, Esther, and the Jewish people's fast in dreadful anticipation of the impending attack by the Persian populace. But before today's date became the "Fast of Esther," it was a day of great celebration!  Like Purim, it commemorated Jewish salvation from imminent threat of extermination.   It was then called "Nicanor's Day." 
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Tetzaveh: A Kindle for the Soul

Tetzaveh: A Kindle for the Soul

In this week’s portion, Tetzaveh, G-d continues instructions to Moses concerning construction of the Tabernacle. The portion begins at Exodus 27:20 with this sentence: וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית לַמָּאוֹר לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד  The Jewish Publication Society translates this verse as: “You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly.”  It’s a practical translation, but to simply leave it at that risks completely missing what may be the more important meaning of the verse.  Let’s look at a few of the actual words.  

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Mar 01

Our “A-mish-agas” Jewish lives

Our “A-mish-agas” Jewish lives
Last night I watched a television documentary on the Amish people of Pennsylvania and Indiana.  I was fascinated to mentally compare Amish life, values, and strategies for community preservation with traditional (some would say "Orthodox") and "... Continue Reading »
Feb 29

T'rumah: The "Hellishness" of Chutzpah

T'rumah: The "Hellishness" of Chutzpah

This week’s Torah portion, T’rumah, provides detailed specifications for construction of the Tabernacle, the Israelites’ first project after having received the law on Mt. Sinai.  Should we care about the minutiae of how the Tabernacle was built?   Our sages certainly thought so – and not just because they were interested in ancient Israelite architecture!  From the Torah’s detailed description, they found guidance for conducting their own lives.  So can we. ...

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Keeping Israel in Perspective

Keeping Israel in Perspective
Back in the seventies, I spent a summer living and working in New York City.  I remember thinking that NYC was “like any big city, but much more so.”  It had just about anything that you could want...and much that you wouldn’t.   ... Continue Reading »
Feb 22
Posted in: Israel

The Restroom Prayer

The Restroom Prayer
One of the most important goals of both Jewish prayer and ritual is to infuse spirituality and meaning into ordinary moments and actions. Our tradition asks/requires us to pray when we awaken, before and after eating, as we prepare to sleep … and a... Continue Reading »
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A bird that you set free may be caught again, but a word that escapes your lips will not return.
Jewish Proverb