Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

#WeToo

In a newly published essay for the Jewish Week, our esteemed colleague Professor Keren McGinity has revealed that she was sexually harassed by a senior academic at a Jewish professional conference in 2011. She spoke out not only on her own behalf but on behalf of all women – including the many women in the Jewish community – who have felt compelled to remain silent for too long. I have… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi-Sharon-Cohen-Anisfeld

“In the deserts of the heart, let the healing fountain start.”

Toward the end of this week’s parasha, the Israelites come to a place called Be’er (meaning “well” in Hebrew). There, in the middle of the desert, they discover a well, an unexpected source of water. An unexpected source of hope, sustenance, and healing. The moment awakens a song, “Then Israel sang this song: “Spring up, O well, sing to it!” [Numbers 21:17] The Hasidic master, the Sefat Emet, sees in the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Leora Abelson

Death as a Sacred Moment

Parashat Chukkat (Numbers 19:1-22:1) When June rolls around, I feel a certain sadness that contrasts with the natural world, with the bursting of life in the temperate northeast where I live. June is when the trees are in full flower, the grass is thick, and the days are long. This joyful context means it always takes me a minute to remember why I feel sad—because my grandfathers died in June,… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Or Rose

Look Inward: Learning from Korach’s Downfall

Parshat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) In this week’s Torah portion, Korah (after whom the reading is named) and other prominent members of ancient Israelite society brazenly challenge Moses and Aaron’s leadership, resulting in the dramatic death of the rebels through supernatural means (16:31-35). Over the centuries, biblical interpreters have explored the figure of Korah, a member of the Levite tribe and Moses and Aaron’s cousin. What inspired this man to challenge… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Gray Myrseth

Shlach Lecha/Not a Sound

(Parshat Sh’lach  (Numbers, 13:1-15:41) And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation said to them,  “I wish we had died in the land of Egypt or that we had already died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14:2) Fear is not an animal. It is not warm. It does not bend. Once the ocean bent beneath my hand. Was it that simple? Yes. The crabs… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Ordination 5778

We are overjoyed and filled with nachat—with deep satisfaction and pride—as we look toward the graduation and ordination of our students this Sunday, June 3, at Hebrew College. As our graduates stand on the threshold of becoming rabbis and cantors, teachers and mentors—spiritual, educational, and communal leaders serving the Jewish people and the world—they do so in the light of the menorah that shines from this week’s Torah portion, B’ha’alotecha. The menorah—or… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Emma-Kippley-Ogman

Divine Presence is a Cloud that is Fire

Parshat Beha’alotecha (Numbers 8:1-12:16) “Mai shamayim, what are the heavens?” asks the Gemara about the second day of Creation when earth and heavens came to be separate entities (Ta’anit 12a).  “An old teaching answers: esh umayim, fire and water.  The Holy Blessed One scrambled them together each in the other and made from them the firmament.” אש ומים becomes שמים, the letters themselves combining to make something new out of… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Klein

Finding our Way Inside: The Priestly Blessing as a Model for Jewish Practice

Parshat Naso (Numbers, 4:21-7:89) In his book Lost Connections, Johann Hari shares a fascinating and, for me, paradigm shifting study about the connection between work and mental health. The study, done by Australian scientist Michael Marmot in the 1970s, shows that workplace stress and depression is highly correlated to the amount of control people have over their work. The more control a person has over her work, the less stressed and… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi-Sharon-Cohen-Anisfeld

What Does Courage Look Like?

Who is rich? The one who rejoices in his portion. (Pirke Avot) In the midst of these profoundly divisive and divided times, I have noticed a troubling trend among people in my own communities, and, if I’m honest, even within myself. We long to respond with courage to a world that is, in so many ways, ravaged with violence—both the slow violence of poverty and systemic injustice, and the more… Read Article →