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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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Think Positive

August 11, 2017

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For congregational rabbis, this is a season of anxiety, but also of hope. The arrival of the seven Haftarot of Consolation after Tisha b’Av reminds us that we have less than two months to get our sermons written and services planned for the High Holy Days. (Had I not been rabbinically formed in seminary, I [...]

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Father, mother, parent, you: God is beyond our language

June 9, 2017

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About two decades ago, a bat mitzvah student asked me a familiar question, but with a surprising twist. She said, “Rabbi, is God a He?” And I answered, “No, He’s not.” Then we both thought for two seconds about what I had just said, and simultaneously, we burst out laughing. My student had just learned [...]

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Taking the plunge

May 26, 2017

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Three thousand, three hundred, and twenty-nine years ago, Moshe (Moses) announced to the Jewish people that He would be ascending Mount Sinai to receive the Torah for the Jewish people. The Midrash tells us that the Jewish people protested. They said, “We want to see our G-d; we want to receive the Torah directly from [...]

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Shemini

April 14, 2017

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At this sacred season of re-consecration to recollection, we are poised between Yom Hashoah’s monumental burden of sorrow and Yom Ha’ Atzmaout’s transforming joy. We pause at this great twilight oscillating between the helplessness of Yeoush’s despair and Hatikvah’s hopefulness of Yeshua’s salvation. We turn to the Torah’s Book of Life that we may face [...]

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Oh the Times, They Were a Changin’… How the rabbis invented our seder

March 31, 2017

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Passover in the time of Deuteronomy: What a spectacle! We all got up and made pilgrimage to Jerusalem, pitching our tents on the surrounding hills. The priest helped us accomplish our lamb sacrifice, which we enjoyed in the evening cool of Nisan. It was a peak experience, away from home and its leveling routines. Alas, [...]

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Purim and Iran’s contemporary plot

March 6, 2017

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Purim’s extraordinary fun masks and matches the extraordinary seriousness of the life and death issues behind it, while allowing for the healthy release of pent-up tension and emotion. After all, a threat of genocide hanging over a vulnerable people such as the Jews with a plot in place to terminate its existence in the vast [...]

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With full Talmud translation, online library hopes to make sages accessible

February 10, 2017

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NEW YORK (JTA)—For centuries, studying a page of the Talmud has come with a bevy of barriers to entry. Written mostly in Aramaic, the Talmud in its most commonly printed form also lacks punctuation or vowels, let alone translation. Its premier explanatory commentary, composed by the medieval sage Rashi, is usually printed in an obscure [...]

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What was Pharaoh thinking?

January 30, 2017

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It’s interesting to reflect on the Torah portion, Parshat Bo, while reading Alan Morinis’s book, Everyday Holiness, in preparation for Tidewater Together. This year, the series of programs focuses on the theory and practice of mussar, a 200-year-old system of Jewish teachings. Morinis, who will speak at each Tidewater Together event, posits that people can [...]

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Joseph inspires to make a difference

January 16, 2017

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The great and most colorful Joseph saga extends over four Torah portions and 13 chapters. Just like Joseph, the dreamer and interpreter of incredible dreams (he should have kept some of them to himself!), the Jewish people have believed that noble, as well as disturbing dreams have the potential and power to transform reality. In [...]

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