Don’t Weaponize Your Words

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Devarim, Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22
July 30, 2014

Far from the fighting in Israel and Gaza, Syria and Ukraine, the peanut gallery reigns supreme. Many of us have anointed ourselves armchair pundits, battling each other in wars of words disturbingly disconnected from the suffering of those in the conflict regions themselves. Rhetoric tears away at rhetoric — or more deafeningly still, is amplified […]

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Hope and Despair

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Masei, Numbers 33:1-36:13
Director of Admissions and Student Life, Rabbinical School
July 23, 2014

The West Wing feels like a long time ago. The critically-acclaimed TV show of the late 1990s and early 2000s portrayed a president and his staff who were both passionate idealists and realistic politicians. Though the show was on the air through much of the turmoil of the previous decade, its spirit was informed by […]

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Hebrew College Expands Its Presence in Israel

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President, Hebrew College
July 18, 2014

Last night I attended a rally in support of Israel hosted by our local federation and Jewish community relations council. It was only a few weeks ago that the community gathered to mourn the death of four teenage boys — three Israelis and one Palestinian — who were brutally murdered. The rocket attacks on Israel […]

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Promises on a Bumpy Road

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Mattot, Numbers 30:2-32:42
July 16, 2014

Soon we will enter the land. There will be bumps in the road. Things we swore we would do may go undone. Things we promised we would refrain from may become commonplace. Here in parashat Mattot, the Israelites are already encamped on the Plains of Moab, having finished their forty years of wandering in the […]

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Reb Zalman: In Memoriam

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Rector, Rabbinical School; Irving Brudnick Professor of Philosophy and Religion
July 10, 2014

Among the countless things I learned from my dear teacher and friend Reb Zalman z”l, is the statement of our shared master and teacher R. Nahman of Bratslav, צריך לעשות מהתורה תפילה, that “you need to turn teachings into prayer.” Zalman especially loved that idea. He would ask about a teaching or wise saying, sometimes […]

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Religious Zealotry, Then and Now

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Pinhas, Numbers 25:10-30:1
July 9, 2014

Hot-blooded anger. Self-righteousness. Unflinching certainty. Extreme measures. These are some of the hallmarks of violent religious zealotry. We see its vicious resurgence all over the world today: the headlines from Iraq, Syria, and much of the Middle East are filled with Islamist jihad, as Sunnis slaughter Shiites and vice versa; Boko Haram, a radical Islamic […]

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Leaders in Adult Learning (LAL) Fellowship Orientation

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July 2, 2014

On June 12, the inaugural cohort of the two-year Leaders in Adult Learning fellowship gathered for an orientation with Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, Rabbi Marcia Plumb, Bernice Lerner and Marjorie Freiman. This was the first gathering for the entire cohort, so the fellows shared their personal objectives as well as their plans for translating their learning […]

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Models of Prophecy

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Balak, Numbers 22:2-25:9
July 2, 2014

When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?’ Balaam answered the donkey, ‘You […]

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We Do Not Live by Reason Alone

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(Chukat, Numbers 19:1-22:1)
June 25, 2014

The law of the red heifer in this week’s reading from the Book of Numbers, to put it plainly, makes no sense. The Torah mandates an elaborate ritual of purification by which a red cow is slaughtered and burned and its ashes used to purify those rendered ritually impure by contact with a corpse. Such […]

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Rabbis and Cantors Singing Together

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Dean, School of Jewish Music
June 20, 2014

Rabbis and cantors singing together — what a concept! That’s exactly what happens in Kol Arev, Hebrew College’s choir. This ensemble, the name of which means “pleasant voice,” is composed of cantorial students, rabbinical students, faculty and alumni of the college. Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, the college president, sings in Kol Arev, and yes, even he […]

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