Power, Oppression and the Hardened Heart

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Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16
January 21, 2015

This week’s Torah portion begins with God instructing Moses: “Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart” (Exodus 10:1). The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is one of the most confusing aspects of the Exodus story, but has perhaps the most to teach us about freedom and oppression in our world today. Before Moses ever […]

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In the Name of God: The Possibility of Passion and Tolerance

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Vaera, Exodus 6:2-9:35
January 13, 2015

And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, as God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by My name LORD (YHVH) I was not known to them. — Exodus 6:2-3 . . . “My name is Alice, but — ” “It’s a stupid name enough!” […]

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These Are My Names

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Name Tag

Shemot, Exodus 1:1-6:1
January 7, 2015

When my husband and I made aliyah last August, I was looking forward to bringing my name with me to Israel. I felt confident that my name would feel at home here immediately, even if I did not. While “Minna” is not a common name in Israel, it’s easily understood and certainly not the oddity […]

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Other Stories, Others’ Stories (Parshat Vayechi, Genesis 47:28–50:26)

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January 2, 2015

Last November, I attended the inaugural conference of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. Afterward, I posted on my Facebook page a picture of 100 Jewish and Muslim women — old and young; bareheaded, hijabi and a few in yarmulkes. One of my Jewish friends commented on the posting, “Did you discuss how Islamic women can win basic […]

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The Plague of Survivalism (Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18–47:27)

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Director of Development, Center for Interfaith Engagement
December 22, 2014

The Jewish people have a knack for surviving, even in the face of great odds. Sometimes, however, it seems as if that is our only goal. In the Torah portion for this week (Vayigash), Joseph, having grown in power and influence in Egypt after his brothers left him for dead in the desert many years […]

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I and I

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Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4-36:42
December 4, 2014

Jacob’s struggle in this week’s Torah portion is framed by revelations about the meanings embedded in places and names. Nothing surprising there — who gives a name, what that name means and how a place becomes known for the transformative moments occurring upon it, all define much of the biblical story. Vayishlach begins with our […]

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The Long Journey of Cultivating Gratitude

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Parsha Vayetze

Vayetze, Genesis 28:10-32:3
November 25, 2014

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving, which for many of us is less about gratitude and more about consumption, consumerism and perhaps some family discord. Dedicating time to be grateful is hard. It’s often easier to think about what we don’t have or what’s not going quite right yet than it is to stop, clear out […]

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Something New, Higher and Unexpected

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Parshat Toldot, Genesis 25:19 - 28:9
November 20, 2014

Jews are known as the People of the Book. This designation speaks to Judaism’s focus on the intellect, its emphasis on theological argumentation and dedicated study. However, it is clear from the Torah that Jews also come from a long line of people rooted in the earth — from the first humans in the Garden […]

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Honoring the Past by Looking Forward

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Chayyei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18
November 12, 2014

Reading this week’s Torah reading, this week, is almost physically painful. The parasha (Torah reading) — named after “Sarah’s life,” but beginning with her death — begins with the elaborately described process of Abraham’s acquiring a burial place for his wife. The description takes up an entire chapter of Genesis. Everyone in this passage seems […]

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Resting Beneath the Tree

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Parshat Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24
November 4, 2014

In Parshat Vayera, we meet Abraham resting near the entrance of his tent. He notices three weary travelers approaching, and he runs to greet them, with no regard for the intense heat of the day (as one midrash tells us)–or the fact that he is still healing after having circumcised himself as a part of […]

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