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Rabbi Josh Weinberg


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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Fingers giving the peace sign in front of an Israeli flag

It is no secret that racism exists, and despite the tremendous progress made in recent decades, racism will probably always find pockets of support. This week, we were painfully reminded of how much it exists in the United States by the events in Charlottesville, VA. As if a mob of torch- and weapon-wielding white supremacists shouting “Jews will not replace us” wasn’t enough, the president of the United States was unwilling to specifically condemn the likes of the KKK and neo-Nazis.

To state the obvious, racism is an ugly and evil ideology that tears at the very fabric of society...

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String of tattered Israeli flags hanging between buildings against a blue sky

I do not travel to Jerusalem, I return (to paraphrase the poet Yitzhak Yasinowitz). I pick up where I left off, visiting friends, arriving at former stomping grounds to find them still pulsing or torn down and rebuilt in the ever-evolving life that lays down strata upon strata of this city.

I’m not sure what a unified city would look like. Is Paris unified? London? New York? Bangkok? Madrid? One thing I can say is that Jerusalem is not. Not to contradict the psalmist: "Jerusalem built up, a city knit together."

There is West Jerusalem and East, Arab Jerusalem and Jewish...

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