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Rabbi Dara Lithwick


A mans hands dropping a ballet into a ballot box with a Canadian flag in front

This year, Canada’s federal election will take place on October 21, at the same time as the holidays of Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. The overlap of the holiday with Election Day offers an opportunity to consider the relationship between our civic rights and obligations and Torah.

Sh’mini Atzeret comes after Sukkot, set by Leviticus 23:36 and Numbers 29:35 as a “sacred occasion” during which we are to “hold a solemn gathering” and “not work at [our] occupations.” As with many other holidays, Sh’mini Atzeret is observed as a two-day festival in traditional Jewish communities in...

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Collage of photos of the author at the Tel Aviv Pride Parade

A disturbing headline grabbed my attention as I scrolled through my news feed last month. It read, “Jerusalem chief rabbi: Gay people cannot be religious, shouldn’t pretend to be.” As a queer rabbinical student, I found the rabbi’s comments to be inaccurate at best and, at worst, possible incitement to hatred or violence against LGBTQ+ Jews.

Additionally, the rabbi had seemingly given his remarks in a sermon on the preceding Shabbat, which fell on the 17th day of the month of Tammuz (from the Hebrew calendar). The 17th of Tammuz marks the start of a three-week period culminating...

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Women holding hands in front of a rainbow flag

Every year in the Passover Haggadah (telling), we read, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” These words have taken on deep meaning for me as I came out of the closet, got married, and had kids of my own: Our freedom and redemption are founded on being inclusive and welcoming.

The story of the Exodus from Egypt is so axiomatic in the Jewish tradition that the Torah commands us to tell it to our children four times (Exodus 12:26, 13:8, 13:14, and Deuteronomy 6:20). According to the rabbinic tradition, we must tell it in ways that can be understood by those asking the questions....

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