This year at our Passover seder, I experienced something deeply powerful which I had not felt in the context of Passover before.
I met him on my flight back to Boston from Atlanta. He was a Muslim student from Dubai, I was a Jewish student from the United States. We had come from very different places but were on our way to the same university.
Camp helps us feel closer to God.” With this sentence, I opened my dialogue with the summer leadership staff of URJ Camp Newman, a Reform Jewish sleepaway camp, at our annual retreat. As it turns out, even some of our rabbinic students felt uneasy about this language and its placement within our opening conversation.
Tekiah! Teruah! Shevarim! Tekiah Gedolah!
In the traditional liturgy, the special character of each holiday is particularly conveyed by the piyyutim (hymns, liturgical poems) that are recited or chanted on that day. Most of these piyyutim have been omitted in Reform liturgies since the nineteenth century, out of a sense that their Hebrew diction is too arcane and their theology too medieval. Yet, some of these poems have routinely been retained in Reform High Holy Day prayer books, particularly for Yom Kippur.
As we witness public figures dismantled by the revelation of ugly episodes from their pasts, we parents must distill these events and their aftermath for our children.
God said to Moses, "Speak to Aaron and say to him: 'When you mount the lamps, the seven lamps shall illuminate the menorah.'" (Numbers 8:1, 2) These two simple verses begin a diverse web of instructions and stories that comprise this week's Torah portion, Parashat B’haalot’cha.
There's a joke that started making the rounds when Jews from the former Soviet Union began arriving in large numbers in Israel:
"So, really, how was life back in Russia?" a Sabra asks a new immigrant, just arrived in Israel from the former Soviet Union.
Not so long ago, in a congregation that could be your own, lived a man named Joseph Smithstein. His synagogue, Congregation Echad, was once vibrant, but over time things had changed. Two years ago, because nobody wanted to take the helm, Joe, a new member, became the president.