Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs
As the High Holidays draw near I am reading, as I have for each of the past 45 years, Days of Awe: A Treasury of Jewish Wisdom for Reflection, Repentance, and Renewal on the High Holy Days, by Israel’s Nobel Prize-winning author, Shmuel Yosef Agnon.
As much as the book means to me, the person who gave it to me means more. It was a gift from my father’s first cousin, Dr. Judith Kaplan, whom I first met in Israel when I went as a rabbinical student in July 1970.
Another of my father’s cousins was to meet me at the airport, but there was a mix-up, and she was not there. I...Read More
Earlier this week, we marked the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Hebrew month of Tishrei, when Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur occur. In preparation for the High Holidays, it is customary, during Elul, to begin to take stock of our actions and behaviors during the past year in an effort to do better in the year to come.
With this idea in mind, it’s time for me to binge-watch reruns of “The Lone Ranger,” a western television show more than 60 years old.
Why? The answer is simple: The message.
As creatures created b’tzelem Elohim (in the image...Read More
Shortly after I became the first full-time rabbi of Temple Isaiah in Columbia, MD, in 1974, I instituted Congregants’ Hour. I invited three people, whom I thought had interesting stories to tell, to share their stories for 10 minutes apiece right after the morning service on the Day of Atonement.
“Talk about anything you wish,” I wrote in my letter, “why being Jewish is important to you, what Yom Kippur means to you, your favorite memories of the day, your thoughts about God, how you see the Jewish future, or anything else that relates to your connection to Judaism. I want to...Read More
As the Hebrew month of Av begins, Jews become starkly aware that Rosh HaShanah, the new Jewish year arrives in two months... and they’re two months that will pass quickly. It is time to get ready.
In just another week, we commemorate Tishah B’Av, the Ninth of Av, a day Jews commemorate as the anniversary of the destruction of both the first temple in 586 BCE by the Babylonians and the Second in 70 CE by the Romans. In addition, many other catastrophic events in Jewish history – including the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 and the beginning of World War I – fell on that date...Read More
Twenty-three hundred years ago, a small group of loyal Jews defeated those among our people who cared so little for our faith that they were willing to give it up to “be just like everyone else.” Only after civil war broke out among the Jews of Judaea did the Assyrian-Greek army of Antiochus IV invade Judaea, pollute the Temple, and outlaw all Jewish observance. A small army of Jews took to the hills and fought the invaders, eventually driving them out of Jerusalem. They rededicated the Temple that the Greek soldiers had defiled with idols and the sacrifice of pigs.
The story of...Read More
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