All posts by Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

No Guarantees for the Righteous

Parshat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:3-36:43 The Torah is famously laconic about the emotional lives of its central characters. We are left to imagine what Abraham was feeling as he walked up Mount Moriah with his son Isaac at his side, or what Rachel felt when she discovered that her older sister Leah had laid with Jacob in the marital bed intended for her. It is all the more striking, then, that… Read Article →

Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

While Standing on One Foot: A Compassion Practice

I have spent the last week grieving privately. Horrified — nauseated, actually — by the two murders that took place in Israel last week. The first victim: Shira Banki, a 16-year-old girl, stabbed by an ultra-Orthodox Jew at the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem last week. She succumbed to her wounds this past Sunday morning.  Five other young people were injured in the attack. The second victim: Ali Dawabsheh, an 18-month-old from a Palestinian village… Read Article →


More Than One Thing: Purim and Reflections of the Image of God

Megillat Esther, which we read on the holiday of Purim this week, is a flamboyant, even farcical tale of good and evil. Its characters on the face of it are caricatures of human virtue and vice: Achashueras, the foolish king who sits on the throne but exercises no true leadership or authority; Haman, the sinister power behind the throne who cleverly executes his genocidal plan until he himself is executed upon… Read Article →

Grieving in the First Person Plural

To speak at all in this moment feels tricky, treacherous even – but I feel compelled to try. I alternate between feeling there is really nothing to say, and feeling there is too much to say – what has happened, what is happening in Jerusalem is such a terrifying and tangled web of human suffering that to tug on any one thread – any one aspect of this tragedy that… Read Article →


Wandering and Welcoming

This week’s Torah reading begins with the command, “Lech lecha”: Go forth. Go out from your land and from your father’s house. Go. When my husband and I first met, he told me that his family had a kind of motto: “Set yourself in motion and things will happen to you.” My own family did not really have a motto, but if we did, it probably would have been something like, “Stand perfectly… Read Article →

Noah's Ark

This Side of the Rainbow

On the day of my wedding, 22 years ago this past August, my mother – who does not distribute such compliments freely or lightly – said to my husband Shimi, “You are the best possible son-in-law I could imagine.” A few minutes later, Shimi – feeling both honored and relieved – shared the compliment with a friend. “My mother-in-law just told me that I’m her ideal son-in-law!” My mother, who… Read Article →


Seventy faces of Torah

Last Wednesday, May 7th, over 400 community members, supporters, alumni, students, faculty, and staff gathered at Gann Academy for the Hebrew College gala to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Rabbinical School.  Below is an excerpt from the remarks shared by Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, one of the honorees at the event. Limnot yameinu ken hoda v’navi levav chochma. Teach us to number our days that we may attain a… Read Article →


Blessing Our Counting

In Jewish sacred time, this is the season of counting. 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. Today, we mark the period of the Omer… Read Article →

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A Blessing for a New Year of Teaching and Learning

The Sefat Emet associates the be’er — the ever-flowing well of water — with the Oral Torah, the Torah she’be’al peh, the Torah that is passed from generation to generation; the Torah that is sustained and renewed by that very act of passing. Our commitment at Hebrew College to life-long learning — to learning that engages people of all ages and all generations — is not simply a description of… Read Article →

Community Blog Rejoicing on Sukkot

Rejoicing on Sukkot

In the rhythm of Jewish time, the festival of Sukkot is known as “z’man simchateinu,” or “season of our joy.” On Sukkot, joy is halakhically mandated; we are not only invited to be joyful, we are obligated to do so. I don’t know about other people, but I do not respond well to being commanded to be joyful. It’s sort of like being told to relax. Tell me I must be happy, and… Read Article →