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Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein


Elik was born from the sea. That’s what father used to tell me… -- opening words of Moshe Shamir’s memoir of his brother who was killed in the war of 1948, With His Own Hands (Chapters of Elik), 1951.

…in our land, the land of Zion, Jerusalem. -- closing words of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem.

Now that we are retired, we revel in the opportunity to go on cultural excursions during the week. Recently we ordered tickets for a play in Tel Aviv, and a room in a hostel. We thought we’d take the train (2.5 hours door to door), spend the afternoon at a museum, then dinner...

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Your sons and daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. - Joel 3:1

Recently I attended the funeral of Shlomit Yomtov, the mother of a friend and colleague. Shlomit was the daughter of Moshe Unna, who was one of the principle founders, leaders, and ideologues of the Orthodox kibbutz and the Orthodox kibbutz movement, from the 1930s until his death in 1989. Shlomit was a lovely and impressive woman who was a proud bearer of her father’s heritage of Orthodox humanism.

From study and observation, I have always felt that...

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Do not follow a majority to do evil...   - Exodus 23:2

For decades, it was taken for granted that rural communities based on some form of economic communalism (like the kibbutz or moshav) were justified in vetting new members, usually involving a vote, a year of probation, and another vote.  After all, the commitment of and to the community was lifelong and economically significant – and the community was generally relatively small and isolated. 

This custom of selection committees, probation, and votes was carried over to the looser model called “yishuv kehilati,” (...

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Rabbi Huna in the name of Bar Kappara said that Israel deserved to be redeemed from Egypt for four reasons: They never changed their names, they never changed their language, they never engaged in gossip, and they never engaged in sexual immorality.

 -- Midrash Song of Songs Rabbah 4:12

Recently I went on a tour sponsored by the local Hebrew-Arabic webzine Dugrinet, to visit examples of Bedouin and Jewish communities living in close proximity. We first visited Kamaneh, a large Bedouin village, and Kamun, a rural Jewish community of a few hundred families. The two, which...

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There was a great and mighty wind, splitting mountains and shattering rocks by the power of the Eternal; but the Eternal was not in the wind. After the wind – an earthquake; but the Eternal was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake – fire; but the Eternal was not in the fire. And after the fire – a still, small voice.

-I Kings 19:11-12

Our bedroom window overlooks the Hilazon Valley, a view that includes natural Mediterranean scrub vegetation and Jewish National Fund forests on the slopes, olive trees filling the valley bottom, and the village of Sha'ab on the other...

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