Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

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Lift Us Up

Our Torah portion this week is Naso. In the context of this episode, Moses and Aaron are told to take a census in the wilderness. The census of last week’s portion was for the purpose of counting up the male Israelites of age 20 or older who were able to bear arms. The census in…Read on →

Breaking Through the Silence

Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, step up to the altar to offer the sacrifice, as they are required to do as Kohanim—Priests of Israel. But there is something amiss in the procedure, and the sacrifice they offer is described in our Torah portion in cryptic terms: eish zarah—strange fire. We aren’t told any further details than…Read on →

The Real Miracle of Passover

The Passover story is one of miracles and marvels: the parting of the sea; the plagues that struck Egypt; the protection of the blood on the doorposts of our people’s houses, as the Destroyer struck down the Egyptians; the miraculous redemption of our people from slavery. Did these miracles really happen exactly as described in…Read on →

Prayer and Sacrifice

This week we begin our reading of the Book of Leviticus, much of which focuses on the ancient system of animal sacrifice. Within the context of the ancient world, this system was the primary modality of vicarious atonement for sins. The priests (Kohanim) would serve as divinely-appointed intermediaries. They would dash the blood of slaughtered…Read on →

Eternal Values and Green Ink

Today is March 17th, known to most of us as St. Patrick’s Day. It is also our congregant Howard Simka’s birthday – Happy Birthday Howard! For many of us in the orbit of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion [HUC-JIR], however, March 17th is significant to us  the birthday of one of our…Read on →

Our Sanctuary in America

This coming Shabbat is “Shabbat Across America.” Every year the National Jewish Outreach Program assigns the first Shabbat in March as “Shabbat Across America.” The idea is to encourage all the Jews in our country to symbolically join hands and celebrate Shabbat together, at least on this one Shabbat during the year. This year the…Read on →

Tzedek U’mishpat – Righteousness and Justice

The Prophets of Israel raised their voices in the name of righteousness and justice. In fact these two concepts appear as a word pair numerous times throughout the Prophetic books of the Bible. In Hebrew, the word pair is צדק ומשפט – tzedek u’mishpat. This week began with our celebration of the birthday of the…Read on →

Chanukah, Christmas and Chinese Food

  The year was 2010, and the Senate Judiciary Committee was carrying out its Constitutional responsibility of conducting a confirmation hearing for the President’s nominee for the US Supreme Court – a responsibility, I might add, which the Senate has now defiantly shirked for the better part of this past year. But in 2010, the…Read on →

A Conflict of Positive Values

The conflict. . . . For the past four years, we at Union Temple have been presented with what I have called a “conflict of positive values.” There is profound meaning and good will informing each of these values, though together they present us with something of a conflict. By way of explanation, I will…Read on →

A Confluence of Emotions

As happens sometimes in the natural course of events, we are dealing with two ends of the emotional spectrum at the same time. First, we join with the rest of the Jewish community, and the world community as a whole, in expressing our profound sadness at the loss of Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, z”l….Read on →