Blur Day

A day during the pandemic is a different kind of day. You don’t know what day of the week it is because every day is Blurday.
How do we cope?
Let’s be very basic. How can I distinguish between the other days of the week? There is an old Yiddish song about differentiating days of the week: (more…)

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Edward Litto – Yehudah Lippa ben Yakov Nachum – January 11, 2015

We’re here today to mourn the passing but also to cherish and honor the life of Edward Litto, beloved husband, father, brother, and dear friend. As everyone knows, these last two years since his stroke have been extremely difficult and a combination of medical factors took their toll on his body, and even with the best of care, it was all too much, and it was time for him to go. We are at peace with that aspect of things. (more…)

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Jeff Litto – ben Yehudah Lippa – 1988

I feel like we’ve been hit by an atomic bomb.

I feel like we are precious glass in a box marked “Fragile – Don’t Breakn and somebody dropped us.

And now we are shattered glass,

and we have to pick up our shattered dreams.

Because, you see,

Jeff Litto was every parent’s dream,

and what happened to him is every parent’s nightmare (more…)

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IM Issue 150 – January 2021 – End of an Era

Editorial – Closing the door . . .

With this, the 150th edition of Israel Matters!, your editor has decided that now is the appropriate time to suspend publication. It has not been an easy decision to make. At an average of 11 issues per year (July/August is a single edition of the Bulletin), not including special and website only editions, simple arithmetic means I have been the primary editor of the publication for more than 13 years. To put that number into perspective, a child born when I started would likely be having her/his Bat/Bar Mitzvah this year. (more…)

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Wherefore the Hanukkah scroll

Most Jews know only the legend about the miracle of the cruse of oil and very little about the actual military victories of the Maccabees.

TOMB OF the Maccabees near present-day Mevo Modi’im. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

TOMB OF the Maccabees near present-day Mevo Modi’im. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The festival of Hanukkah has many beautiful customs such as the dreidel, latkes and sufganiyot, but there is one custom we would expect to find on Hanukkah that seems to be missing – the reading of a scroll in public. After all, on Purim we read the Scroll of Esther every year in order to publicize the miracle. Why don’t we read a scroll on Hanukkah in order to publicize the miracles that God wrought for our ancestors in the days of Mattathias and his sons? The result is that most Jews know only the legend about the miracle of the cruse of oil (Shabbat 21b) and very little about the actual military victories of the Maccabees. (more…)

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500 drunken elephants: The untold Hanukkah story with no Maccabees

A different kind of redemption from Greek tyranny

By ZACK ROTHBART  – DECEMBER 10, 2020

 

Ptolemy IV Philopator's drunken elephants turn on their masters, by Jan Luyken, 1700. (photo credit: COURTESY THE RIJKSMUSEUM/NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)

Ptolemy IV Philopator’s drunken elephants turn on their masters, by Jan Luyken, 1700.
(photo credit: COURTESY THE RIJKSMUSEUM/NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)

Antiochus and his elephants left  Gaza in defeat.

One of the largest battles of the ancient world was over – apparently the first time Asian and African elephants had faced off against one another – though the victor’s herd had been of little help, famously fleeing the war zone in a crazed frenzy. (more…)

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Reinventing Israel’s History

‘Promised Land’ or revisionist history? A former Knesset member weighs in on Barack Obama’s telling of Israel’s story

By Dov Lipman – CT Jewish Ledger – December 11, 2020

(JNS) I have never criticized former U.S. President Barack Obama publicly – neither during my time in the Knesset nor anywhere else – despite my having disagreed with many of his policies. I am of the strong opinion that Israelis should not engage in or interfere with American politics, and I regularly offer a blanket thank you to all American presidents, including Obama, for their economic and military support for Israel.< (more…)

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Bechdel test for Jewish texts is shaking up the beit midrash

The test has adherents among Hillel educators and is spreading among educators at pluralistic institutions of Jewish learning.

By SHIRA HANAU/JTA DECEMBER 9, 2020

When Danielle Kranjec committed to using only Jewish texts written by women and queer people in the classes she taught for Hillel International’s Springboard Fellowship, a program that places recent college graduates in positions at college campus Hillels across the country, she knew she was taking on a challenging task.
After all, for most of Jewish history, women weren’t encouraged to take on religious leadership roles or write commentaries on the Torah or Talmud.
But Kranjec knew that elevating the work of women would be worth the effort, both because doing so would communicate the value of women’s insights to her students and she believes the mismatch between the diversity of the people teaching Torah today and the sources they teach had grown too great. Also, as a Jewish educator and trained historian, she knew there were a plethora of texts that might not be considered “Torah” in the traditional sense but could serve as rich source material.
Much of the time, those who assemble materials for Jewish study sessions — commonly known as “source sheets” — start with the Torah text, working their way to the rabbinic texts, the Mishna and Talmud, followed by commentaries on texts written over a span of more than a thousand years. Men wrote the vast majority of those texts. (more…)

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December 2020: President’s Message

As we all know, COVID-19 is on the upsurge again in our area. It’s a fact of our present lives. Therefore, we must continue to suspend in-house services, and maintain our current approach via Zoom. However, please know, if you have a Yahrzeit or a special occasion for you or a family member and you want to come into the shul for a Shabbat service, please call the office and let them know, so the Rabbi is aware you are coming in. (more…)

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