The Jewish people love to share stories, as memory is a central Jewish value. We cannot forget what has happened to us because we must share it with future generations. The past is one of our best learning tools.
Third-year Hebrew Union College-NYC student Jesse Epstein hopes to make Judaism more accessible, meaningful, and relevant for today’s Jewish community – through beer. He recently became the owner of Shmaltz Brewing Company, a beer-brewing brand aimed at providing community members with a mode and environment for consumption steeped in Jewish ethics, text, and tradition.
I spent months hiding inside my home after Covid-19 was declared a global health emergency. During that time, the Talmudic description of evil spirits resonated with me. It was certainly how I felt, surrounded by invisible threats just outside my door. Since I am a children's author, I channeled these fears into a picture book featuring a supernatural spirit.
As we look out from the pulpit, we know there are good reasons that some faces that were familiar before March 2020 are now missing. We have embraced technology at every opportunity. The quality of our livestreaming worship, even in smaller synagogues, is excellent. Many congregants have grown accustomed to praying from the comfort of their couch.
This time of year, we hear again and again about how much emphasis Judaism places on the nuances of how to address harm of all kinds. I am convinced that the steps of repentance and repair outlined by the medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides make sense not only in our individual lives when we harm our coworkers, friends, family, and intimate partners, but also in reference to the communal, cultural, and national levels.
Judaism encourages us to awaken each day with thoughts of gratitude. I recite the Modeh Ani each day to thank the Divine for returning my soul. I was recently asked where our soul goes while we sleep. This poem is my response.
Lifelong learning, however, can be easier said than done. For many, as they enter adulthood, with its competing demands and obligations, setting aside time for learning – and especially for Jewish learning – can be challenging indeed.
After two years of teaching remotely and watching far too many movies and television series on Netflix on the same computer screen I use to interact with these students, I wonder if I feel less connected to these "virtual" students than the hundreds of young people I taught in person over the past decades.