Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

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In the Footsteps of Heroic Women

Last week we began our reading of the Book of Exodus, and the beginning of our enslavement in Egypt. Moses is undoubtedly the most preeminent figure in the story as it unfolds, and indeed, henceforth through to the end of the Torah. Nevertheless, it could be argued that the most heroic figures of last week’s…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 →

The Chutzpah of Abraham

הֲשֹׁפֵט כָּל־הָאָרֶץ לֹ֥א יַֽעֲשֶׂה מִשְׁפָּט: – Shall the Judge of all the Earth not deal justly? Within our Torah portion this week is one of the most primal utterances of our entire tradition; one that has haunted us since it was first uttered. The implications are manifold. Abraham finds himself in a confrontation with the…Read on →

Dreamers in America

Jacob is on the move. He has had to leave his home, and journey to Haran to live under the protection of his uncle Laban. He is alone. It is night time, and he lies down and falls asleep. Suddenly in a dream, a ladder appears with angels going up and down. In the morning…Read on →

That’s How the Light Gets In

Whenever I contemplate the uncertainties of human existence, I am amazed by the good fortune I have enjoyed in my sojourn on this earth. Out of all the places I could have been born, by some quirk of fate, I was born in the United States of America – in the middle of New York…Read on →

Tower of Arrogance

A number of Biblical stories are intended to provide an etiology of how certain things came to be. Within Parashat Noach is such an etiology in the story of the Tower of Babel. We may wonder why it is that there is a profusion of languages within the human family. The story of the Tower…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 →

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 →