Tag Archives: Jewish Values

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“The Experiment”

“When I was only five, my family hosted two kindergarten teachers from Germany. I also remember my father practicing German and traveling to Germany several times. He was a participant in a new initiative in Israel called “The Experiment”, Building bridges with Germans and Germany after the Holocaust. But at the time, I did not understand the significance of all of this. When I was eight and again when I was… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Ariel Evan Mayse

Bread and Water: Keeping Our Hearts Open

Parshat Toldot, Genesis 25:19-28:9 Key moments in the book of Genesis often take place near a well, the quintessential place of sustenance. Throughout the first book of the Bible, the patriarchs dig and re-dig springs, in order to sustain their families and satiate their flocks. Abraham’s servant Hagar and their son Ishmael are delivered from certain death in the wilderness by their vision of a mysterious well. Abraham’s servant Eliezer… Read Article →

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Remembrance and Hope: Reflections on a Rabbinic Trip to Germany (part 2)

As we stood together admiring the beautiful, new synagogue that stands right in the center of Munich, I shared with our group brief biographies of two towering figures in Munich history, two Jews who lived and died in Munich before the war. Hermann Levy was a world-renowned orchestral conductor in Munich during the late 19th century and ironically conducted the first performance of Wagner’s last and most religious opera, Parsifal…. Read Article →

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“Where We Stopped Along the Way” (Parshat Matot/Masei, Numbers 30:2-36:13)

The John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor, NY was a refuge for me and for my mother before me―a refuge from this world as it is, and at the same time a portal to worlds beyond our own. My mother remembers that the librarian would give her a box of cards to bring up to the top floor and look at through the stereoscope. I remember the heavy wooden… Read Article →

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Mindful Parenting

                          “This class has been such a gift for those of us who have been participating. We are 15 moms strong and our focus is on mindful parenting though a Jewish lens. We are forming community and interpersonal connections. We are receiving life-long lessons from our tradition and from one-another to bring to our own homes and families…. Read Article →

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How Far We Haven’t Come

Parshat Naso, B’midbar 4:21-7:89 There should be a name for the particular sense of pride, the utter self-righteousness, that arises when we modern readers encounter the deeply problematic practices of our Israelite ancestors and proclaim our own cultural advancement. There is truly no better time to assert our moral superiority, to affirm our ethical evolution, than when we confront ancient rituals like that of the ordeal of the bitter waters… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Ariel Evan Mayse

The Forgetful Sands of the Wilderness

Parshat B’midbar, Numbers 1:1-4:20 The biblical book of Numbers continues the story of a people adrift and unmoored, winding their way through the empty wilderness. Much has happened thus far, including times of elation as well as failure; ours has not been a linear journey. God’s self-revelation and the giving of the Torah at Sinai was followed by the sin of the Golden Calf, and then the command to build… Read Article →

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Alcott House & Early Jewish Education

“I have lived in Concord Massachusetts for the past 16 years. Concord—and especially Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott —has inspired me a lot as a person and as an educator. Everyone loves the house because it was home to the author of “Little Women.” But I love the house not because of Louisa, but because of the way her parents raised her and their view of education. I… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Sue Fendrick

The Bells That Still Can Ring: On Rest and Action

I wonder if there is a song lyric quoted more often in High Holiday sermons than the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”: “Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” It’s not hard to see the homiletical appeal of Cohen’s poignant words to congregations of imperfect human beings. Nor is it a stretch to understand why these words… Read Article →