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Power, Oppression and the Hardened Heart (Parshat Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16)

Rabbi Adina Allen | Posted 01.21.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Adina Allen

The hardening of Pharaoh's heart is one of the most confusing aspects of the Exodus story, but has perhaps the most to teach us about freedom and oppression in our world today.

A Million People in Paris Teach Us What Religion Is Really All About

Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D. | Posted 01.13.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D.

A million people marched in Paris this week. A million men, women and children, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, and those with no religious label at all, marching simply to demonstrate their ultimate humanity that crosses religious distinctions.

In the Name of God: The Possibility of Passion and Tolerance (Parshat Vaera, Exodus 6:2-9:35)

Rabbi Herzl Hefter | Posted 01.13.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Herzl Hefter

R. Simcha Bunim of Przysucha (1765-1827), one of the great Hasidic masters in Poland, explained it by breaking it into two parts. The letter shin is a prefix meaning "that", and "dai" means "enough". She dai would mean, "that [which] is sufficient."

Jacob and Esau: Lessons for Israelis and Palestinians Today

Rabbi Michael M. Cohen | Posted 01.08.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Michael M. Cohen

Both sides have become very adept at viewing all of what the other does as being provocative and mistrusting. And while that can be true with particular actions, both sides have allowed themselves to fall into the dangerous trap of limiting their understanding of the other by such a myopic approach.

These Are My Names (Parshat Shemot, Exodus 1:1-6:1)

Rabbi Minna Bromberg | Posted 01.07.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Minna Bromberg

We cannot always control what we lose or gain in life's transitions, and even the happiest transitions (like getting married or becoming parents) can be jarring. I don't always get to choose how my name will be spelled or said. But sometimes, I get to choose how I will hear it.

Russell Crowe, The Creator, and Climate Change

Lev Raphael | Posted 01.04.2015 | Comedy
Lev Raphael

Sometimes I avoid controversial movies until the brouhaha has died down, dried up and blown away like a tumbleweed in an old western. I like to watch those movies with a fresh eye, but with Noah, it turns out the fuss last Spring was actually much more entertaining than the film.

Other Stories, Others' Stories (Parshat Vayechi, Genesis 47:28 - 50:26)

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer | Posted 01.05.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer

This November, I attended the first annual conference of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. Afterwards, I posted on my Facebook page a picture of 100 Jewish and Muslim women--old and young; bareheaded, hijabi, and a few in yarmulkes.

The Plague of Survivalism (Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein | Posted 12.26.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein

In the Torah portion for this week (Vayigash), Joseph, having grown in power and influence in Egypt after his brothers left him for dead in the desert many years before, now reveals his true identity to his assembled siblings.

A Hanukkah 'Raga': An Ecological Reflection

Laura Bellows | Posted 12.19.2014 | Religion
Laura Bellows

Rabbi Katy Allen teaches that Hanukkah is a time to rededicate ourselves to the holy and hard work of responding to climate change. She writes that we "increase our holiness by rededicating ourselves to reducing our carbon footprint."

7 Common Misconceptions About the Hebrew Bible

Marc Brettler | Posted 12.19.2014 | Religion
Marc Brettler

It is helpful to think about common misconceptions that people have about the Bible so that we can read it better.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Dwight Brown | Posted 12.11.2014 | Black Voices
Dwight Brown

"Exodus: Movement of Jah people! Oh-oh-oh, yea-eah!" chants Bob Marley. In his rousing three-minute song "Exodus" he presents a more spiritual feel for Moses than Ridley Scott's 154-minute, whitewashed sword-and-sandals epic.

The Power of the Powerless (Parshat Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1-40:23)

Rabbi Toba Spitzer | Posted 12.09.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Reading Tamar's story in light of recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island, as thousands of people take to the streets to demand changes in our justice system, the Torah poses to us today this question: What happens when those in power fail to acknowledge their errors?

Dinah, Bill Cosby, Ferguson and Staten Island: Judgement and Justice

Rabbi Yael Ridberg | Posted 12.08.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Yael Ridberg

Though society might condemn the actions of the alleged perpetrators, victims are not simply victims -- their behavior is scrutinized and questioned in ways that imply that the violence against them was justified.

'I and I' (Parshat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4-36:42)

Stephen Hazan Arnoff | Posted 12.03.2014 | Religion
Stephen Hazan Arnoff

Vayishlach begins with our hero on the run. Recall that Jacob emerges from his mother Rebekah just moments after his twin brother Esau; in adulthood, with his mother's help, he tricks his blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for the firstborn.

The Women of Light in CIW Prison

Mara Shapshay | Posted 01.26.2015 | Impact
Mara Shapshay

The Judaism recovery program used to be in nine other prisons but lost the funding. It is hard to raise money to help Jewish inmates transform their lives when there are puppies and sick children that are more appealing.

The Long Journey of Cultivating Gratitude (Parshat Vayetze, Genesis 28:10-32:3)

Judith Rosenbaum | Posted 01.25.2015 | Religion
Judith Rosenbaum

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving -- which for many of us is less about gratitude and more about consumption, consumerism and perhaps some family discord. Dedicating time to be grateful is hard; American culture doesn't help us much.

Countering This Darkness With Light: Responding to the Jerusalem Synagogue Massacre

Rabbi Yonah Bookstein | Posted 01.24.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

I spent too long on Twitter trying to get CBC News to apologize over the "Jerusalem Police fatally shoot 2 after apparent synagogue attack" headline on their website. Looking back, that time could have been spent much more productively.

Honoring the Past by Looking Forward (Parshat Chayyei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick | Posted 01.12.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick

Reading this week's Torah reading is almost physically painful. The parasha (Torah reading) -- named after "Sarah's life," but beginning with her death -- begins with the elaborately described process of Abraham's acquiring a burial place for his wife.

Learning From Abraham: Why I Stand With the Nurses

Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater | Posted 01.10.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

We are not afraid to stand up and speak out; in fact, we know that because of Abraham, in this Torah portion, we are obligated to stand up and speak out. We might not win every fight, as we know Sodom was eventually destroyed, but we don't shy away from the debate.

Resting Beneath the Tree (Parshat Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24)

Ariel Mayse | Posted 01.04.2015 | Religion
Ariel Mayse

The Maggid would ask us to apply this way of thinking to the world around us as well, and to our own lives. His teaching calls us to examine even seemingly ordinary moments, and to sense how holiness and The Divine dwell within them.

Why Don't Progressive Jews Believe in an Afterlife? Are They Missing Something?

Stafford Betty | Posted 01.01.2015 | Religion
Stafford Betty

As a professor who studies attitudes toward death among a wide populace, I ask myself, "Are my Jewish friends in denial?" After all, if death really is our destination, then we cease to exist when we die.

Wandering and Welcoming (Lech Lecha -- Genesis 12:1-17:27)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld | Posted 12.28.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

As descendants of Abraham and Sarah, both wanderers and welcomers, may our individual and communal homes be open to strangers, and may our hearts be open to the possibilities that strangeness can awaken within us -- wherever we go, wherever we find ourselves.

Bereishis -- The First Installment in a Weekly Torah Series

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach | Posted 12.24.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

In this week's Torah Reading -- Bereishis -- we reembark on the annual cycle, returning to the very beginning of the Bible, Genesis.

The Uncertain Woods of Faith

Rabbi Menachem Creditor | Posted 12.25.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The French Jewish philosopher Emanuel Levinas teaches that what makes Torah holy is its infinite meaning. Holiness is therefore defined by inexhaustible possibility.

Out of the Ark and Into the Garden: The Story of Noah in the Sabbatical Year

Rabbi David Seidenberg | Posted 12.24.2014 | Religion
Rabbi David Seidenberg

One question for us today, in this year of Shmita, is: how can we get ourselves back to the garden? Back before our fellowship with the animals was lost?