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Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein


The number of months, with God, is 12 in the Book of God, the day that He created the heavens and the earth… The month postponed is an increase of unbelief whereby the unbelievers go astray; one year they make it profane, and hallow it another…

-Quran 9:36-37

The media were ready for blood during the days leading up to Yom Kippur this year, as the holiday fell on the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid el-Adha. Given the fraught atmosphere between Jews and Arabs that was created during the Gaza war this summer, there was concern that the usual small-scale Yom Kippur...

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There are people with hearts of stone; there are stones with human hearts.

-The Wall, by Yossi Gamzu

Through the 70s and the 80s we spent a total of five years in Jerusalem, working and studying. We loved the city with its rich diversity and physical beauty, its intensity, its historical echoes and holy places, its romance. We had (and have) a lot of friends there. We watched it develop and urbanize, for better or for worse, over those decades. But when we finally decided to make Aliyah in 1990, it was obvious to us that we would not make our home there - which led a...

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Six years shall you sow your land and gather in its yield; but in the seventh you shall let it rest and lie fallow. Let the needy among your people eat of it, and what they leave let the wild beasts eat…

-Exodus 23:10-11

The Torah, given before we entered the land, contains a number of commandments that were to be observed once we arrived, primarily those related to agriculture; in other words, mitzvot that are only applicable in the Land of Israel. A leading example was the Sabbatical year. Over the centuries, when Jews mourned being in exile, an important element of their...

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Rabbi Tarfon… used to say: It is not for you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it. -Mishnah, Avot 2:16

When we started the Galilee Circus (Jewish-Arab youth circus) in 2003, I idly googled “youth circus” and discovered that this is a world-wide phenomenon: there are dozens if not hundreds of youth circus programs, in every corner of the globe.  The educational values of circus – trust, courage, cooperation, non-verbal communication, balance, hard work, etc., are universal, and appeal across cultures, from Afghanistan to New Zealand, creating an...

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All Israel are responsible for [the sins of] each other.      – Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 27b

Spending a month in the US on an academic project, which began just as the latest flare-up between Israel and Hamas started, has given me a lot to think about.

Drinking latte on the Upper West Side and seeing Shakespeare in the Park between reading headlines from Israel creates a weird dissonance of guilt and worry, anger and… relief.  Letters from home speak more of depression than worry, even though the worry never recedes from consciousness because I know that family and...

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