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Q&A: What Can We Learn from Studying Translations of the Bible?

The National Book Review | Posted 02.11.2016 | Books
The National Book Review

Aviya Kushner's book The Grammar of God: A Journey Into the Words and Worlds of the Bible is profoundly personal. Kushner grew up in a Hebrew-speaking, scholarly household in which the Bible--read in the original Hebrew--was often the center of conversation and debate.

Making Space for the Divine -- and Each Other (Parshat Terumah, Exodus 25:1 - 27:19)

Rabbi Jordan Braunig | Posted 02.10.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Jordan Braunig

May we be blessed to be bold and courageous enough to build sacred dwelling places, and may the reward for struggling to keep housing available be an ongoing sense of proximity to the Holy One.

What Donald Trump and Football Can Teach Us About "Chained" Women

Avraham Bronstein | Posted 02.08.2016 | Religion
Avraham Bronstein

SCRANTON, Pa. (JTA) -- Following eight years of struggle, an Israeli mother named Adina Porat finally received a Jewish writ of divorce, or get, earli...

Teaching With Patience and Presence (Parshat Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1-24:18)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld | Posted 02.04.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Teaching, mentoring, and providing guidance and support to young people who are trying to find their way in a complex world requires sustained presence, patience, persistence, and compassion. The same is true for learners at any stage of life.

Many Covenantal Paths: Catholic and Jewish Partnership (Parshat Yitro, Exodus 18:1-20:23)

Rabbi Daniel Lehmann | Posted 01.27.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Daniel Lehmann

In this week's Torah portion, Parshat Yitro -- named for Moses' father-in-law -- Jethro (Yitro in Hebrew) is described first as a priest of Midian, and only after that as the father of Moses' wife.

Was Moses an Existentialist? And What Does That Mean for Your Career Path?

Yaacov Cohen | Posted 01.27.2016 | Religion
Yaacov Cohen

According to Søren Kierkegaard, the first existentialist philosopher, "Each individual is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely."

Honoring the Blank Spaces (Parshat B'shalach, Exodus 13:17-17:16)

Rabbi Minna Bromberg | Posted 01.20.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Minna Bromberg

This is the teaching I take from the distinctive layout of the Song of the Sea: the space of the in-breath is the birthplace of all song. Honoring this space, no matter how limited it or we may be, allows us to reconnect, throughout our songs and throughout our lives, with the Infinite from which all song flows.

Watching, Waiting, Reflecting: Dreaming in Times of Darkness (Parshat Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16)

Adam Lavitt | Posted 01.13.2016 | Religion
Adam Lavitt

Rather than sitting idly by, paralyzed by cynicism -- or charging toward the power brokers with vengeance -- we can get up and join hands with our ancestors. Together, we will gaze into the darkness, waiting patiently until our eyes adjust and we can see something amidst the darkness.

Redemptive Action

Rabbi Yael Ridberg | Posted 01.07.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Yael Ridberg

The images this week of an openly emotional President Obama as he announced the executive actions on gun control were very moving. Whatever your political affiliation, I think many of us can agree that when leaders show uncensored emotion about an issue it is a moment that represents a kind of redemption.

Moses Was Twice a Refugee (Parshat Va'era, Exodus 6:2 – 9:35)

Rabbi Joshua Stanton | Posted 01.07.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Joshua Stanton

Some in Europe and the United States are dithering, uncertain of what to do. Others are actively stoking the fires of xenophobia, and speaking out against the refugees. A notable few are fulfilling their ethical obligations to welcome those who so desperately need a place of refuge.

Bible Expert's Surprising Findings About Jews and Judaism Revealed in the New Testament

Bernard Starr | Posted 01.13.2016 | Religion
Bernard Starr

It's well known that Christianity sprang from a Jewish context. While there may be controversy about Jesus' Judaism vs. the traditional Judaism of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of Judaism in the first century, there's no doubt that Jesus, his family, and followers were practicing Jews, as recorded in the New Testament.

Empathy in Exodus

Heather A. Paul | Posted 12.29.2015 | Religion
Heather A. Paul

This Friday, Jews read the the beginning of the story of Exodus, which includes Moses's first encounter with God, through a burning bush. When Moses moves toward the strange burning, God calls out to him. "Moses, Moses!"

Aligning Ourselves With the God Who Changes (Parshat Shemot, Exodus 1:1-6:1)

Rabbi Lisa L. Goldstein | Posted 12.28.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Lisa L. Goldstein

When we seek alternatives to the structures of fear and hate, we cannot just substitute another attempt at absolute power. We have to cultivate different ways of interacting with whatever we don't like or understand.

The Purpose of Genesis: 'They're All God's Kids'

Rabbi Joseph Meszler | Posted 12.28.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Joseph Meszler

Jewish people reread the book of Genesis each year during the fall into the beginning of winter in synagogue. Christians and Muslims turn to these stories as well. What are we supposed to learn from this book of Scripture?

The Shma, Activism, and Maccabiah (Parshat Vayechi, 47:28-50:26)

Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson | Posted 12.21.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson

As we marched and chanted, I was drawn back in time to formative memories of my young adulthood, during Maccabiah at Eisner Camp, a Jewish sleepaway summer camp in the Berkshires.

Family Across the Divide (Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman | Posted 12.21.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

The refugee stood before the government official and pleaded for mercy. His plight was desperate. He came with a large family, seeking asylum from conditions in his home country. Loved ones were still back home, awaiting word. Returning home without help meant death.

Surviving Family Trauma, Silence to Strength

Jonah C. Steinberg | Posted 12.18.2015 | Religion
Jonah C. Steinberg

Four of the rabbinic teachings regarding the part of the Joseph-story that we read this week have stayed with me since that retreat -- and they are worth considering in their own right, as acknowledging aspects of the experience of trauma in the family context, in ways that may be surprising in ages-old sources.

Why Bob Needed Two Bar Mitzvahs

Sandy Goodman | Posted 12.20.2015 | Religion
Sandy Goodman

Adult bar mitzvahs are not all that uncommon among American Jews these days. But two bar mitzvahs for a single person? That certainly doesn't happen very often. But here's one unusual, interesting instance when it did.

The Torah Is a Book of Immigrants and Refugees

Jonah C. Steinberg | Posted 12.16.2015 | Religion
Jonah C. Steinberg

For the community at Harvard, where I serve as a rabbi and chaplain, this is a time when thousands of students will be wending their ways from campus to family homes throughout the country and the world, for the winter academic recess.

On Joseph, Shaving and Being Human (Parashat Miketz, Genesis 41:1-44:14)

Rabbi Daniel Klein | Posted 12.10.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Daniel Klein

Current events have conspired to make Paris the moral heart of our world, calling us to reflect on where we are going as a world community.

Joseph, Hanukkah, and the Dilemmas of Assimilation

Arnold M. Eisen | Posted 12.09.2015 | Religion
Arnold M. Eisen

Ruminations about assimilation come naturally to Jews in North America at the winter holiday season. How much should a parent insist that Hanukkah is part of public school celebrations that give students a heavy dose of Christmas?

Finding a Seat at the Table

Rabbi Scott Fox | Posted 12.04.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Scott Fox

I love the feel of the Torah. The parchment that I'm not supposed to touch, but always seems to call to me with its black letters and hard skin. I recently opened up one of our storied scrolls for a religious school class.

The Same Body (Parshat Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1-40:23)

Or Mars | Posted 12.02.2015 | Religion
Or Mars

In this week's Torah reading, Parshat Vayeshev, we find ourselves positioned as voyeurs, watching a troubling family dynamic unfold. Jacob favors his 17-year-old son, Joseph, over all of his other children.

The Threat of Serenity

Rabbi Menachem Creditor | Posted 11.30.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

I've never skied, and I never intend to ski. In fact, I don't understand why anyone does. It seems to me that the things all skiers have in common are the bruises and broken bones inevitably acquired in the winter months.

No Guarantees for the Righteous (Parshat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:3-36:43)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld | Posted 11.24.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

The Torah is famously laconic about the emotional lives of its central characters. We are left to imagine what Abraham was feeling as he walked up Mount Moriah with his son Isaac at his side, or what Rachel felt when she discovered that her older sister Leah had laid with Jacob in the marital bed intended for her.