Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs
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
We Jews are incredibly proud of our Torah, but we never claim it as history’s first code of law. We do, however, claim that Torah was the first code to grant equal protection under the law to non-citizens: “You shall not oppress the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
We find the roots of this most-frequent commandment, which appears 36 times in the Torah, in the stories about Abraham, the man our tradition considers to be the first Jew. In an effort to help us work with God to create a more just, caring, and compassionate world, God made a covenant with Abraham...Read More
It seems to me that it should always be cold at Auschwitz, the sky always a dreary gray.
Unless it is a very hot day, I am always cold; I’ve always been that way. And so more than the other horrible sufferings people endured or succumbed to at Auschwitz, I think of the cold – of the thin pieces of rag that inmates wore, their often-bare feet providing no shield against the brutal Polish winter.
It was not cold by normal standards when my wife and I visited Auschwitz, but knowing my usual preclusions, I vowed not to be cold. I wore long johns, a knit cap, gloves, and four...Read More
Last year, I was privileged to conduct the first Jewish service since 1938 in the northern German city of Friedrichsstadt. In the interim, to my joy, there have been several Jewish cultural and religious events in Friedrichsstadt, including the bat mitzvah of Laura Wendt, a young woman from Denmark, in a service led by my colleague, Rabiner Dr. Walter Rothschild.
Much credit for the “heavy lifting” necessary to replant Jewish life in this town belongs to Horst (Ephraim) and Rita (Devorah) Blunk, whom I first met in 2014 during adult education sessions and services that I conducted...Read More
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