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

Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein | Posted 12.23.2014 | 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 11.26.2014 | 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 11.25.2014 | 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 11.24.2014 | 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 11.12.2014 | 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 11.10.2014 | 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 11.04.2014 | 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 11.04.2014 | 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 10.28.2014 | 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?

Ebola and Public Health Versus the 'Bottom Line'

Bernard Starr | Posted 12.24.2014 | Politics
Bernard Starr

If Ebola continued as confined outbreaks for a limited time, a patent for a drug to treat it, or a vaccine to prevent it, might not feed the corporate bottom line. So we have waited for a desperate crisis when a cure might bring enough profit to light up the bottom line.

'We Are All Noah Now' (Noah, Genesis 6:9-11:32)

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman | Posted 12.21.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

In order for there to be a second Creation, the first one is undone: The skies darken to hide the light, the waters come together to cover the land, the plants and animals -- except for those lucky enough to be on the ark -- perish.

Returning to Jaffa Road

Rabbi Edward Bernstein | Posted 12.17.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Edward Bernstein

I lived through and observed this saga up close and have always been inspired by the strength and courage of Len and Vicki Eisenfeld and Arline Duker.

Others, Brothers

Jeremy Benstein, Ph.D. | Posted 12.15.2014 | Religion
Jeremy Benstein, Ph.D.

We have parents, spouses, teachers, critics, publicists and therapists. And most important, we have each other, to be supportively critical, and to help us ask ourselves the really hard and thus the really important questions.

Should Jewish Girls Be Allowed To Read Torah At The Western Wall?

Religion News Service | Michele Chabin | Posted 10.13.2014 | Religion

JERUSALEM (RNS) A new bus ad campaign promoting the right of girls to celebrate their bat mitzvah at the Western Wall is the latest push by the femini...

Sukkot: Staying a Little Bit Longer

Rabbi Arthur Green | Posted 12.08.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Arthur Green

My sukkah, is up. A few of my students came by today, pulled the old wooden frame with its lattice-work sides out of the garage, and put it together. The whole construction job took about 15 minutes, but created a moment of great significance and joy.

Wake Up to a New Year: A Yom Kippur Reflection

Rabbi David Jaffe | Posted 12.02.2014 | Religion
Rabbi David Jaffe

The shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah are designed to wake us up. How do we avoid hitting the snooze button, rolling over and going back to sleep once the holiday passes? That is the goal of Yom Kippur -- to keep us spiritually awake.