I was born in 1961, baptized, confirmed and given First Communion. But when I was 9, my father began telling me bedtime stories about his narrow escape from the Nazis in Vienna, his entire family murdered – how my maternal grandmother was assassinated in my mother’s childhood home in Bremen, Germany, on Kristallnacht and how, by a miracle, my mother survived.
Teens today are coming of age at a time of intense competition. The pressures they feel to be successful at school, in sports, in pursuit of their passions, in their social lives and in romantic relationships, as daughters and sons, and as leaders – are at an all-time high.
Count off seven sabbath years — seven times seven years — so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. (Leviticus 25:8-10)
In this week's portion, the Jubilee year is established. Called yovel, our parashah explains how every forty-nine years — seven weeks of seven years — in the seventh month, on Yom Kippur, the shofar of freedom is to be sounded throughout the land for all its inhabitants. This iconic verse to proclaim freedom throughout the land is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
In Parashat Emor, the verses in Leviticus 23:1-44 name and describe the sacred times of the Jewish calendar: Shabbat, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and the Pilgrimage Festivals of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Time becomes a holy thing, and the "normalcy" of time — of one day being no different than any other — is forever differentiated by the weekly Sabbath and by these special festive days.
In Jewish Spiritual Parenting: Wisdom, Activities, Rituals and Prayers for Raising Children with Spiritual Balance and Emotional Wholeness (Jewish Lights), husband and wife team Rabbi Paul Kipnes and Michelle November, MSSW, draw on Jewish ethical and mystical teachings as well as their own experiences as parents of three children – Rachel, Daniel, and Noah – in creating a valuable resource that is intentional, inclusive, and well attuned to the realities of Jewish life today.
For the last three years, the URJ 'nai Mitzvah Revolution has supported more than 150 congregations in experimenting in areas that inspire b’nai mitzvah students to express what matters to them in the experience. Here’s are six areas of congregational innovation.
On a recent perfect early spring day (warm sun, cooling breeze, brilliant wild flowers) we took the children and grandchildren on a short hike to the mountainside adjacent to Shorashim, picnicking under an olive tree. On the way, we encountered toads, lizards, a scorpion, and caterpillars; our lunch was serenaded by the muezzin of the village of Shaab, with the backup chorus of the jackals that live in the open areas.
Figures show that an offensive statement against the Arab public is posted every 6 minutes, while a call for actual physical violence is posted every 27 minutes.
Washington, D.C., May 13, 2016 – In response to the letter sent today from the Obama Administration to all public schools directing them to ensure transgender students access to facilities consistent with their gender identity, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement: