Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

Archive

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 →

The Greatness of Yiddish, and A Few Rotten Words

Thanks to the efforts of our wonderful congregant Peter Gomori, a group of us will soon treat ourselves to a performance of Di Goldene Kale (The Golden Bride) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park. It is being presented by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, and is one in a series of performances this…Read on →

The Message of Chanukah: Making War or Pursuing Peace?

Our Haftarah for Shabbat Chanukah is taken from the prophet Zechariah, Chapter 4. It envisions the lampstand once again in the Temple in the Jerusalem, as the angel explains its meaning. Verse 6 proclaims: “Then he explained to me as follows: ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel. Not by might, nor by…Read on →

The Rabbinic Transformation of Hanukkah

The Need to Stamp the Festival. . . The Festival of Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabean victory over the powerful army of the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus IV (Antiochus Epiphanes) in 165 BCE. The Books of Maccabees and the Jewish historian Josephus describe various commemorative ceremonies in the years following this momentous event. But the Rabbis of…Read on →

A Personal Story for Veterans Day

Veterans Day. . . .  Today is Veteran’s Day. World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, the fighting actually ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied…Read on →

A Stain Upon the Land

“You shall not pollute the land in which you live; for blood pollutes the land, and the land can have no expiation for blood that is shed upon it, except by the blood of him who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I Myself abide, for I…Read on →

The Brutal “Messiness” of Life

“Yucky Stuff” . . . For the next two weeks we are reading portions in our Torah that most of us would prefer to avoid: this week, Tazria, next week, Metzora. Leprosy, mold on houses, impurities incurred from childbirth, and similar “yucky” stuff. And it was the priests who had the dubious honor of examining all these…Read on →

We Are Jews

Destructive Proclamation. . . Last Wednesday, Knesset Member David Rotem, leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party and Chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset, stood on the Knesset floor and declared Reform Jews not to be Jews, and Reform Judaism to be a different religion. This is the same David…Read on →