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Ten Minutes of Torah - Friday

Blue evil eye amulet

When my mother was born in the Polish town of Dabrowa Gornicza in 1921, her Hasidic parents sought their rebbe’s advice on how to protect their infant from the sword of malach-hamavet, the angel of death.

They had good reason to fear. They had lost a son and daughter in the scarlet fever epidemic of 1909, which was followed by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and the worldwide influenza pandemic in 1918. The angel of death, it seemed, was insatiable.

Aron Hirt-Manheimer
Bouquet of flowers with ribbon and Mother's Day tag standing in front of striped painted wall

Although it’s true that I don’t celebrate Mother’s Day with my own mom anymore, I do cherish and celebrate her love, her life, and her wisdom. In creating an ethical will for my sister and me, she plainly and thoughtfully laid out the values and ethics that mattered most to her, along with her hope that we will carry them on. She wrote, “We try to put our financial estate in good order, so how about our ethical estate? I’ve always told you the only thing of value you can leave behind is your good name…”

Jane E. Herman
Seder plate that includes all the traditional elements

With its focus on freedom, Passover is a perfect time to incorporate modern-day social justice issues into the retelling of our people’s journey from slavery to freedom. This round-up of holiday resources – including haggadot, themed inserts, an inclusion guide, and more – will help ensure a terrific and meaningful seder for everyone around your table.

Jane E. Herman

The mezuzot (plural of mezuzah) snuggle next to one another in a ceramic bowl like a litter of newborn puppies seeking each other’s warmth. Peeking out from painted purple butterflies, the golden crown of a Hebrew letter shin reflects a ray of thin February light bouncing off its companion’s metal covering. Shards of the blue glass my husband stepped on at our wedding sparkle in a test tube inside the twisting copper of another family artifact – a mezuzah designed especially for wedding couples. An elephant trunk on my sons’ Noah’s ark mezuzah has broken in half, releasing the intact parchment scroll bearing 22 perfectly copied lines from the Book of Deuteronomy.

Rabbi Sharon G. Forman
Marijuana plants

For 30 years, I was a congregational rabbi. Today, my family and I own and operate Washington, D.C.’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, where we see hundreds of people each week.

What a long, strange trip it has been.

Rabbi Jeffrey A. Kahn
Close-up of sterling silver menorah with Star of David

During this journey, I’ve been asked: “Why?” In Judaism, I found meaningful rituals and a history of peoplehood that I have taken on as my own. From the time I left the Christian church, I sought a spiritual home – a place of tolerance and acceptance. In Judaism, I’ve found exactly that.

Joshua Moon
Girl Scout with her badges

Scouting promotes so many values we want for our daughter: love of nature, respect for the environment, equality and teamwork, and responsibility for our fellow humans. Judaism, of course, imparts these same teachings.

Lauren and Jonathan Theodore
Handgun over dictionary definition of "violence"

Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, senior rabbi of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah, N.J., attributes his passion for social justice to his youth group and Jewish cam

Aron Hirt-Manheimer
Syrian refugee family; father and four children

On Rosh HaShanah, I asked our congregation this question: “Who do we want to be in this new year?”

Rabbi Lisa J. Grushcow, D.Phil.
Shabbat candles in silver candlesticks

I thought I invented the word until I Googled it and discovered it already exists.

Rabbi Jack P. Paskoff

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