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Ten Minutes of Torah - Israel

Less than a mile apart, we inhabit separate worlds and speak separate languages. In 26 years, the separation between Shaab and Shorashim has not lessened or softened.

Rabbi Marc Rosenstein

Last January, Israel's government resolved to include all forms of Jewish worship at the Kotel, Recently, however, it has successfully avoided implementing its own resolution.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Elul is our time to connect to Israel – for ourselves, for our people, and for our land.

Hannah Kestenbaum
Elementary school-aged girl wearing blue boxing gloves with hands above her head

When two colleagues and I created the Israeli Reform haggadah in 2009, we were well aware of the tension between the significant role of women in the Passover story and the relatively little written about them in the haggadah. Because invisible lines of connection bind seder participants to the history of the Jewish people and to the traditions of individual families, ethnic groups, and their own personal heritage, we felt compelled to make the haggadah gender inclusive and to incorporate the stories of women from throughout Jewish history and today.

Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D.
Four young children, each on his/her stomach resting arms on a book

The Land of Israel is a ghost throughout the haggadah, even as it is a constant presence in the background of the Passover story. Liberation isn’t solely freedom from Egyptian bondage; it’s also intentional direction toward Sinai and the ultimate arrival in the Promised Land. Yet Eretz Yisrael itself is rarely mentioned in the haggadah text.

Rabbi Neal Gold
wedding couple

Recently, we attended still another wedding not conducted by a rabbi, but by a friend of the couple, or by a freelance “ceremony facilitator.” Although such ceremonies are not recognized by the population registry, and thus have no legal standing, the ways around this obstacle have gotten easier in recent years.

Rabbi Marc Rosenstein
hand painted like Palestinian flag and hand painted like Israeli flag getting ready to shake

I thought, “I will not mention Him, no more will I speak in His name,” but [His word] was like a raging fire in my heart, shut up in my bones; I could not hold it in, I was helpless.
Jeremiah 20:9

Recently I attended the monthly meeting of the Council of Reform Rabbis in Israel (i.e., the Israeli CCAR, the professional association of North American Reform rabbis), where the main agenda item was the continuation of an ongoing discussion about whether individual rabbis – and the Council as a body – can or should take a public position regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict and directions toward its resolution.

Rabbi Marc Rosenstein
Masada at sunrise

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?

(Langston Hughes, “Harlem”)

Recently I began to volunteer once a week, assisting the English literature teacher in a nearby Arab high school. I’ve known the teacher, and the principal, for many years, through arranging encounters for their students with Jewish visitors, and this seems like a good way to stay in touch and involved. My first assignment was to present a background lesson to two 10th-grade classes studying a poem by Langston Hughes (“the poet laureate of Harlem,” who died in 1967).  This assignment meant covering slavery, emancipation, the Civil War, Jim Crow, and the civil rights struggle, in simple English, assuming almost no historical background, in 40 minutes. Interesting challenge.

Rabbi Marc Rosenstein
Birthright participants hiking in Israel

It is February so let’s talk about love.

What is love? How do you define a relationship? Do you call her nicknames like “The Homeland” or “Zion” or maybe even “ha’aretz (the land)?”

Omer Gady
Barbed wire fence and barracks at Auschwitz

I will give them in My house and in My walls a place and a name, better than sons and daughters; an everlasting name I will give him, which will not be discontinued.

Rabbi Shai Beloosesky

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