Remembering the Future: Memories of the Heart

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Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10
February 25, 2015

This Shabbat, the weekly Torah portion, Tetzaveh, embraces the consecration of the priesthood to God, and the special designated Torah reading for the Shabbat prior to Purim, known as Shabbat Zachor, commands us to remember/not forget our encounter with Amalek, who sought to destroy us. A kaleidoscope of voices and texts construct and reconstruct our […]

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Compulsory Love: What the Building of the Tabernacle Can Teach Us About Valentine’s Day

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Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19
February 19, 2015

I have a fraught relationship with Valentine’s Day. Perhaps this is because I cringe, as a Jew, at observing what was first a pagan and later a Christian holiday; Valentine’s Day originated from a pagan mid-February fertility celebration called Lupercalia and was transformed into St. Valentine’s Day by Pope Gelasius. Perhaps it is because of […]

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Matanot L’Evyonim – Giving and Receiving on Purim

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Co-Director of the Beit Midrash, Rabbinical School
February 18, 2015

Adar is here! Purim, with all its joy and merriment, is on its way.   As someone who was passed over when the gene that appreciates alcoholic beverages was dispensed, I find Purim, and the way it is widely celebrated, perplexing. Looking for the Divine in Purim can be difficult. We have a meal with no […]

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Envisioning a Jewish Future

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Rector, Rabbinical School; Irving Brudnick Professor of Philosophy and Religion
February 12, 2015

This article originally appeared in Looking Forward, the journal of the Aspen Center for Social Values. Let us begin by distinguishing between two questions. The posed, “What will American Jewry look like in 10 years?” includes various elements — deeper assimilation, higher intermarriage rates, increasing disillusionment with Israel, etc. — all of which seem quite inevitable despite our […]

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Is Law a Kind of Love?

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Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1 – 24:18
February 11, 2015

In an implicit polemic against Judaism, some strands of Christian theology suggest that Jesus replaced law with love, supplanting countless rules from the Torah with an all-encompassing love as expressed in God’s incarnation. But we do not need to shy away from this critique of Jewish law entirely, even if it is also associated with […]

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Religion and the Enemy

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B’Shalach, Exodus 13:17-17:16
January 29, 2015

Common wisdom has it that much violence in the world is driven by religious passion. Though there is good reason for this claim, deeper reflection reveals a more complex picture of what religions have to say about relationships with the enemy. This week’s Torah portion brings us one of Judaism’s core texts on the paradigmatic […]

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Power, Oppression and the Hardened Heart

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Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16
January 21, 2015

This week’s Torah portion begins with God instructing Moses: “Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart” (Exodus 10:1). 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. Before Moses ever […]

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In the Name of God: The Possibility of Passion and Tolerance

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Vaera, Exodus 6:2-9:35
January 13, 2015

And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, as God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by My name LORD (YHVH) I was not known to them. — Exodus 6:2-3 . . . “My name is Alice, but — ” “It’s a stupid name enough!” […]

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These Are My Names

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Shemot, Exodus 1:1-6:1
January 7, 2015

When my husband and I made aliyah last August, I was looking forward to bringing my name with me to Israel. I felt confident that my name would feel at home here immediately, even if I did not. While “Minna” is not a common name in Israel, it’s easily understood and certainly not the oddity […]

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Other Stories, Others’ Stories (Parshat Vayechi, Genesis 47:28–50:26)

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January 2, 2015

Last November, I attended the inaugural conference of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. Afterward, I posted on my Facebook page a picture of 100 Jewish and Muslim women — old and young; bareheaded, hijabi and a few in yarmulkes. One of my Jewish friends commented on the posting, “Did you discuss how Islamic women can win basic […]

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