Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

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The View from Mount Scopus

Moses and the Israelites move closer to the Promised Land, preparing to cross the Jordan and conquer the Land. But two of the tribes, Reuben and Gad, approach Moses and tell him they do not want to cross over. They want to remain in the region of Gilead, where the land is more favorable to…Read on →

A Sacred Moment

As always, I prefer to use these blasts during July to bring you thoughts and experiences from Israel. I have one more observation to share with you from my last day in Israel for this summer. But, it will have to wait until next week. It is impossible for me to let this particular moment…Read on →

The Wandering Maggid

In the communities of Eastern Europe in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, and even beyond, there were certain people who would make their way from community to community, weaving stories and teaching lessons. They were itinerant preachers, who, in some cases, rose in stature to become folk heroes. Such a person was called a…Read on →

Proclaim Liberty . . . That Means North Carolina too!

“Proclaim liberty throughout the land; to all the inhabitants thereof.” (Leviticus 25.10) So states our Torah portion this week, Behar. We know this verse as Jews. For us as Americans, though, this verse is seared into our minds, as it is carved into the Liberty Bell, which we can view in its glass encasement in…Read on →

The Voice of a Woman

Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. And Miriam chanted for them: “Sing to the Eternal, who has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver God has hurled into the sea.” (Exodus 15.20-21) These are the last verses of the…Read on →

From Schmutz to Soaring Inspiration

This week we are reading the portion Tazria in our Torah; at first blush, not very appetizing reading. Most of the portion concerns itself with what we, in less elegant vocabulary, might call schmutz; skin infections, mold on houses, and the like – not one of the more inspirational portions in our literature. On the…Read on →

Shabbat Zachor – the Sabbath of Remembrance

This coming Shabbat is Shabbat Zachor – the Sabbath of Remembrance – just preceding the celebration of Purim, which falls next Wednesday night -Thursday, March 23/24. Shabbat Zachor takes its name from three extra verses of the Torah that we read this Shabbat, in addition to the regularly scheduled portion at the beginning of Leviticus….Read on →

Eilu v’Eilu

I am in Israel this week, as of today (Thursday) safely ensconced with my colleagues at the Shalom Hartman Institute. But I spent the first part of the week with seven of my rabbinic colleagues from Brownstone Brooklyn, and five Jewish professionals as well. We came on a mission with UJA-Federation to explore issues of…Read on →

The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea

This week is the moment of truth for our ancestors at the Sea of Reeds. They could not return to Egypt, where the harshness and cruelty of their bondage had become unbearable. And, they really had no way of knowing exactly where they were going – they themselves had no familiarity with a “promised land,”…Read on →

In The Name of God

Last week our sidra reviewed the birth and early life of Moses, and the first revelation of God through the burning bush on Mount Horeb. Three names are used for the Divine Presence: אלהים – Elohim – God; יהוה – YHVH – pronounced euphemistically as Adonai, and translated euphemistically as “The Lord,” or in more…Read on →