Planting the Seed of Eternity: A Meditation on Rosh Hashana and Our Planet

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rabbi david seidenberg

September 24, 2014

On Rosh Hashana, after every time we hear the sound of the shofar, we call out the words, “Hayom harat olam.” This expression is usually translated as, “Today is the birthday of the world, or “Today the world is born.” Even though that’s the common translation, the Hebrew word “harah” or “harat” actually means pregnancy, […]

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The Routine Call of the Shofar

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September 22, 2014

I know that we’re about to begin the month of Tishrei, the opening of the Jewish year, with Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, but humor me for a bit while I write about Pesah. In the Talmud Yerushalmi, Rabbi Levi says that “anyone who eats matzah on the day before Pesah is like a […]

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Why Is This Rosh Hashana Different? (Nitzavim/Vayelekh, Deut. 29:9-31:30)

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September 19, 2014

The new Jewish year, 5775, which starts next Wednesday night, is not like most other Jewish years. This new year calls us to a radically new way of being, a new way of living, for it inaugurates the “shmita,” the sabbatical year — the seventh year in a recurring cycle of sacred sevens that traces […]

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The Whole World Is A Sukkah: Intergalactic Judaism

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Director, Prozdor
September 17, 2014

I’ve probably taught 20 different courses over the past 11 years at Prozdor. While most have been about Israel and the Bible, every now and again I take a shot at something new. This semester I had a crazy idea: what would it be like to teach a class about how Judaism would look, feel, […]

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Three Questions with Rabbi Arthur Green

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Rector, Rabbinical School; Irving Brudnick Professor of Philosophy and Religion
September 15, 2014

Or Rose: Why did you write this brief new book? Who do you hope to reach? Arthur Green: This book is my answer to a question I hear asked an awful lot among young people these days: “Why be Jewish?”  In our day that question didn’t come up. Of course you were Jewish; the question […]

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כַּהֶגֶה בְּיַד הַמַּלָּח: “Like a Helm in the Hand of an Old Salt” — or Not?

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Faculty, Rabbinical School of Hebrew College
September 11, 2014

In Ashkenazi tradition, a liturgical poem, or piyyut,[i] recited on the eve of Yom Kippur begins, כִּי הִנֵּה כַּחֹמֶר בְּיַד הַיּוֹצֵר, בִּרְצוֹתוֺ מַרְחִיב וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְקַצֵּר, כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְּיָדְךָ חֶסֶד נוֹצֵר: “As clay in the hand of the potter, who thickens or thins it at will, so are we in Your hand, Guardian of love.”[ii] The […]

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On the Just Use of Force by Our Police

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Shoftim, Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
President, Hebrew College
August 29, 2014

The tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has focused the nation’s attention once again on issues of justice related to the use of fatal force by police, especially against unarmed African-American men. The death of four black men at the hands of police in Ferguson, New York City, Los Angeles and Ohio this […]

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Where Hope Takes Root

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Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 / Isaiah 54:11-55:5
August 22, 2014

“Unhappy. Storm-crossed. Uncomforted.” Are you talking to me? Perhaps the prophet Isaiah was speaking to all of us, foreshadowing the awful summer of 2014: Michael Brown gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri… ISIS and the butchering of the Yazidis… Ebola in West Africa… Syria—120,000 innocent civilians dead… Parents and children languishing in the blazing summer heat […]

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Divine-Human Partnership

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Ekev, Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
August 15, 2014

It’s hard to know which should make us more afraid: the notion that the human being or God is the absolute master of history. It is difficult to decide in the name of which of these attitudes more blood has been spilled, or which is more likely to destroy the world first. As I write, […]

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Beyond Tragedy and Despair: Emerging from Tisha b’Av

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Isaiah 40:1-26
August 6, 2014

Death. Destruction. Suffering. Pain. Hate speech. Loss of moral footing. These words just as easily describe the events of the past few weeks, as they do the Book of Eicha (Lamentations), read on Tisha b’Av. Both the tragic war in Israel and Gaza, and the liturgy of Tisha B’av invite us to wallow in despair. […]

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