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Rabbi Josh Weinberg

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View of Kotel and Dome of the Rock

This past Monday, the U.S. opened its embassy in Jerusalem. On that same fateful day, more than 60 Palestinians lost their lives on the border with Gaza. In response to these divergent events, people experienced a range of  emotions. 

This confusing, difficult day took place right before Jews around the world will gather to celebrate the festival of Shavuot. Although originally conceived of as a harvest holiday, after the destruction of the Temple, Shavuot transformed into a day celebrating the receiving of Torah at Sinai. We learn all night long to mark the centrality of Torah in...

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Israeli flag in front of Jerusalem stone at the Kotel

"Our feet stood inside your gates, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem built up, a city knit together." (Psalms 122)

There are few cities in the world that have their own special day. I’ve never heard of Paris Day or Rome Day, certainly not Chicago or Boston or Los Angeles Day. Yet, this Sunday we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day.

This holiday was first proclaimed on 28th of Iyar, 1968, the Hebrew date on which the divided city of Jerusalem became one. The theme of the holiday is that the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967 accurately reflected the...

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Closeup of a Hillel sandwich of charoset and maror between two pieces of matzah

As Pesach approaches, Jews around the world are busy preparing for the chag (holiday). We are searching for chametz (leaven), sweeping, vacuuming, scrubbing — it’s Jewish spring cleaning. Like so many Jewish holidays, Pesach follows the Jewish trope of “They tried to kill us, we prevailed, let’s eat!”

One of the things we eat on Pesach is a "Hillel sandwich," which combines the bitter maror (bitter herbs) with the sweet charoset (apple and nut mixture) between two pieces of matzah. This symbolizes the need to take the good with the bad, to acknowledge the suffering alongside the...

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Bank of the Nile River beneath a shining red sunset

It’s hard to imagine what went through the mind of Pharaoh’s daughter when she decided to save the infant she spotted floating in the Nile River. Maybe she was surprised or shocked. Maybe she knew of the royal decree against Israelite boys, but was moved toward defiant action when faced with the heartbreaking reality of her father’s command:

וְהִנֵּה־נַ֖עַר בֹּכֶ֑ה וַתַּחְמֹ֣ל עָלָ֔יו She took pity on it and said, 'This must be a Hebrew child'" (Exodus 2:6).

This act of kindness, of seeing the humanity of the other, changed the trajectory of the entire Jewish people. While this...

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Israeli flag on flagpole in desert, populated by visitors

On the third of Mar-Cheshvan [the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, sometimes referred to as mar (bitter) for its lack of holidays or celebrations], prayers for the rain are to be said, but according to Rabban Gamliel – on the seventh of the same month, namely, 15 days after the feast of tabernacles, in order that the last Israelites might have reached the River Euphrates.

- Mishna, Ta’anit, 1:3

At the opening of the 37th World Zionist Congress in 2015, the panel on which I was participating was asked one final question: What do you think the greatest failure of the Zionist...

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