All posts by Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

First Questions

(Parashat Ki Tetzei, Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) In Jewish sacred time, we have entered the season of teshuva. Often translated as repentance, teshuva comes from the Hebrew root meaning to return. However lost we feel, however far we have wandered – there is a way back. It is possible to find our way home – to God, to ourselves, to one another. At the heart of this season, then, is both a summons and an embrace…. Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: Allow the human breath to be a summons and a blast

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, published in August 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and order your copy. As we enter the month of Av this week, and the period of nine days leading to Tisha b’Av, we begin a sustained period of heshbon nefesh and teshuva— soul-searching and self-reflection on a national, communal, and personal level.  The great Talmud scholar, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

On Being Caught in the Thicket

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, published in August 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and order your copy. The ram’s horn is silent at first As is the ram. Caught in the thicket, Waiting for Abraham to lift his head and see, It appears at the last minute, Out of nowhere, When it’s almost too late. Of course, it was… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: Amidst fragments of shattered hope, of love betrayed, of broken promises, we ask the question: What went wrong?

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, to be published late summer 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and sign up for our pre-order list.  Tomorrow, on the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz – or Shiva Asar b’Tammuz — we enter the saddest period in our sacred calendar.  Many observe a fast from dawn to dusk, as we begin counting the… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: Our deepest service in this world flows from the awareness of, and attention to, what we lack and how we love

“Every individual is a small world unto himself… No person has ever been identical to another person since the creation of the world, and therefore each and every person has a special shlichut, a distinctive purpose for which he was sent… The beginning of all avodah, all service, is discovering for what particular purpose one was sent to this world.” — Rabbi Sholom Noach Berezovsky, Netivot Shalom The longing to live… Read Article →

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Speaking Torah: We do not make the journey to Sinai alone

Next week, Jewish communities around the world will gather to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot and the anniversary of the giving of the Torah. We have been preparing for seven weeks. Counting each day, from the second night of Passover to the first night of Shavuot, through 49 days of wilderness, 49 days of wandering. We offer a blessing each night before we count — a quiet reminder, if we are… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: “We are all broken vessels, infinitely precious in the eyes of God”

A midrash from Vayikra Rabbah on this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Emor, teaches: Rabbi Aba bar Yudan taught: All that God prohibited in an animal sacrifice, God accepts in a human being. What is prohibited in an offering?  When a person offers, from the herd or the flock, a sacrifice of well-being to the Lord…it must, to be acceptable, be without blemish; there must be no defect in it. Anything… Read Article →

Pluralistic Perspectives Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: “As we count each day and bless the counting, may we be reminded to count our blessings”

Every day, from the second night of Passover to the festival of Shavuot, we literally count our days. The period is known as the Omer, originally rooted in the agricultural rhythms of ancient Israel, a time of both anxiety and anticipation, as farmers waited to see what the season’s first harvest would yield. Most of us are far removed from the experience of watching for signs of a successful crop… Read Article →

Pluralistic Perspectives Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: “Questions unite people, answers divide them” (Elie Wiesel)

Dear friends, “The essential questions have no answers. You are my question, and I am yours — and then there is dialogue. The moment we have answers, there is no dialogue. Questions unite people, answers divide them.” I can’t think of a time when we have more needed to hear these wise words from our teacher Elie Wiesel, of blessed memory. We are living in a world where we are… Read Article →

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Speaking Torah: Generosity of heart

Note: This message was originally distributed on March. 22, 2017 to the Hebrew College  community, alumni and friends. Dear friends, Generosity of heart. Nedivut halev. This is the starting place for the building of the mishkan. This is how we begin to make room for the divine presence in our midst. In this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei, Moses instructs all of the generous hearted among the people to bring offerings to the Lord… Read Article →