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Passover, Yom Hashoah, and Yom Ha’atzmaut

March 23, 2018

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The Biblical account of the celebrated Exodus from Egypt became the leitmotif of rabbinic theology, perceiving in the Israelites’ redemption from a House of Bondage, God’s greatness, guidance, and goodness. Thus the Shalosh Regalim—the three Pilgrim festivals of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot revolving around the common theme of the Exodus—point at the divine gifts of [...]

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Why Passover is about a lot more than good food

March 2, 2018

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(My Jewish Learning via JTA)—What is the essence of Passover? On the one hand, it seems obvious: Passover is about gathering together with loved ones to recall, through sumptuous home rituals, the exodus from Egypt. We gather round our seder tables and quickly become engulfed in the warmth of family and friends, the culinary delights [...]

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Purim: A timeless holiday

February 16, 2018

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Purim’s extraordinary fun making often masks and matches the extraordinary seriousness of the life and death issues behind the holiday—while allowing for the healthy release of pent-up tension and emotion. After all, a threat of genocide hanging over a vulnerable people with a plot to terminate Jewish existence in the vast Persian empire of antiquity [...]

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The Joseph saga

December 18, 2017

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The great and most colorful Joseph saga extends over four Torah portions and 13 chapters. How opportune it is as we celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah and the reading of Joseph’s awesome adventures, that the Jewish experience has often been to find ourselves like Joseph in the darkness of the pit without losing faith in [...]

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How much God do we need?

December 1, 2017

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Every Jewish child grows up hearing, at Hanukkah time, the story of “the miracle of the oil,” how one day’s supply of consecrated oil lasted eight days as the Temple was rededicated. It’s explained as the reason Hanukkah lasts eight days and why we eat foods fried in oil during the holiday. But is the [...]

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Vayetze (Genesis 28:10-32:3)

November 20, 2017

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With the blessing and urging of both father Isaac and mother Rebekah, Jacob leaves home. Indeed, he flees. There are two reasons for his hasty departure: Esau’s wrath and the need for a proper bride. The complex and conflicting dynamics in the household of Abraham’s son Isaac—Remember Abrahams’s own dilemmas—were due in part to Isaac’s [...]

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Serving while Jewish

November 2, 2017

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The 1890s was an era in some ways like our own. Anti-immigrant hatreds in America were on the rise, even as businesses relied on the immigrants for low-wage labor. American nativist and racist groups were making new recruits and calling for the exclusion of the foreign-born. High up on the list of targets of the [...]

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Lech-Lecha

October 20, 2017

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(Genesis 12:1–17:27) Noah was destined to be neither the father of the Jewish people nor the founder of our faith. Though the most righteous in his corrupt generation, he failed to reach out and save human lives besides those of his family. Thus, the rabbis who were aware of Noah’s disturbing limitations in the terse, [...]

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The Yom Kippur Cake

September 25, 2017

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Thank G-d, I am married to an amazing woman and have five incredible boys. Every year at anniversaries and birthdays we celebrate each other, give gifts, eat cake, or in my wife’s case, a lot of chocolate, and the next day, our lives continue. We celebrate, sing, take pictures, and then we don’t really consider [...]

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Kee Tavo

September 8, 2017

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(Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) With the High Holy Days 5778 soon upon us, how reflective of their grateful spirit and challenging thrust is this Parasha! The Israelites were taught that re-entering the Promised Land is more than a physical act. At the core of this great adventure is a spiritual drama calling for giving thanks through a [...]

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