A Most Beautiful Passage

“Do not urge me to leave you.
Wherever you go, I will go;
wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
your God, my God.”

This is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible, or anywhere. It is said by Ruth to Naomi, her mother-in-law. The heartbreaking situation is that Ruth’s husband, Naomi’s son, died, as did Naomi’s husband and her other son. Naomi is a Jewish woman who had lived in the foreign land of Moab with her family, but now half the family has passed away, and Naomi is going to return to her home in Israel. She tells Ruth to stay in Moab, her home, and marry a nice Moabite guy. Ruth has every right to do this. None of us would begrudge Ruth if she walks away. (more…)

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40 Years in the Desserts

40 Years in the Desserts

First, a happy and gratified thank you, to all who worked so hard on our “40 Years in the Desserts” celebration.
What a great night it was because of all the hard work of Steve Schulefand and his legendary singers and Lauren Piscitille and her hard-working committee. (more…)

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Purim vs. Passover 

Purim vs. Passover 

Purim and Passover both come in the spring, but they are very different. One is the story of a near-genocide of the Jews of Persia; some brave heroes stood up to power and saved their people. Now it’s basically a time for fun and games and noisemakers and costumes. These days, it is largely a holiday for children. Purim is a lot of fun, but we don’t think much about its lessons. Comedy laughs at danger. (more…)

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I like to ask stupid questions.

I like to ask stupid questions.

I like to go back to a blank blackboard and start from the very basic ideas. During this terrible ordeal when Jewish people all over the world are worried about everything happening to and in the State of Israel, some claim that Israel is a colonial power that is usurping the right of Palestinians to their land. I know that most Israelis are the children and grandchildren of refugees who were exiled from their homes in Europe and the Middle East; Israel is anything but a colonial power. I know that the land does not belong to a group that did not even exist decades ago. I know that this these claims against Israel are all false. And yet I also know that Israel has unfortunately has often needed to re-establish or re-enforce its claim to its land through war, from its War of Independence in 1948 to the current conflict. (more…)

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It is mid-January

As I write this in mid-January, I pray and hope that the situation in Israel will be better when you read this than it is right now. The pain and anguish continue; the despair about the hostages; the animosity of most of the world, all hang heavy and are factors in the collective trauma we all feel. With support for Israel’s Gaza invasion waning, Jewish people inside and outside of Israel have a frustrating problem. The mission of those who love Israel is to advocate for Israel and educate others on why Israel must destroy Hamas. Hamas’s heinous brutality demanded Israel’s just invasion of Gaza. We’re not surprised that much of the world’s shallow reservoir of sympathy for Israel and Jewish people is nearly dry. But American Jewish people couldn’t imagine how this anti- Israel hatred could metastasize into ugly verbal and physical violence in universities, public schools, and public squares. (more…)

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Turning Curses to Blessings: On the Power of Words

TURNING CURSES TO BLESSINGS: ON THE POWER OF WORDS

In the Hebrew Bible, words are events. G-d creates the world through a series of speech-acts, starring with “Let there be light.” As events, once words are spoken, they cannot be taken back; they have happened. Words have independent power. There are many blessings and curses, invoking the name of G-d, and they affect the real world and change history. Once spoken, they are part of reality. (more…)

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I hope that Hamas has been destroyed

By the time you read this message, I hope it is out-of-date.
· I hope that the hostages who have been kidnapped by the murderous savages of Hamas have been rescued and are home with their families.
· I hope that Hamas has been destroyed. (more…)

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Everyone is Equal

In the very first chapter of the Bible, there is a verse that may be the most important verse in the whole Bible, or anywhere. It says that every single human being is created in the image of G-d.

This sounds so simple, right?

And yet, if everyone believed this and looked at all other human beings as equals, this world would be a very different place. (more…)

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Sukkot

After the High Holidays, the festival of Sukkot can seem like an anticlimax. But it is a beautiful, joyous holiday. In fact, is the only festival in which we are COMMANDED to be happy: “For a seven-day period you shall celebrate… and you shall be happy!” (more…)

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Hope

Sometimes I don’t know what to worry about first. The list goes through my head in no particular order. (more…)

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