All posts by Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

“We must choose life in the world we’ve got, and plant our gardens on this side of the rainbow”

An ancient rabbinic midrash tells us that God created and destroyed many worlds before bringing this one into being. The tale speaks, I believe, to an impulse that is all too familiar. The impulse—when confronted with profound disappointment—to destroy in order to begin again. This is the impulse that overtakes God, as it were, at the very end of last week’s Torah portion. “The Lord saw how great was man’s… Read Article →

Community Blog Hebrew College Tablet Logo

Grateful for the Fragile Gift of Life

Dear friends, As we begin our celebration of Sukkot this week, I am more aware than ever of the paradox at the heart of this festival. Sukkot is known, on the one hand, as “z’man simchateinu,” or the “time of our joy.” It has its origins in the fullness of the harvest season.  We are invited, summoned—commanded, in fact—to celebrate all that we have received, to rejoice in the abundance… Read Article →

Community Blog Hebrew College Tablet Logo

Hope for Renewal

Dear friends, Tomorrow evening, Jewish communities around the world will gather to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Hope for renewal stirs especially deeply within us during this season.  We imagine ourselves standing before the gates of a new year, before the gates of possibility, repentance, return, and repair.  But of course the real question is whether we will take the risk of unlocking the gates inside of us. … Read Article →

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 →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Hebrew College Tablet Logo

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 →