Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

Archive

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 →

The Breath of Life

The death of Eric Garner. . .  The events of last Wednesday and days dealt a blow to the sensibilities of New Yorkers. We are a nation of laws, and cannot simply form lynch mobs to carry out vigilante justice. At the same time, we have the right to expect that those responsible for a…Read on →

An Ongoing Struggle

Jacob has spent twenty years in Haran after escaping his brother Esau’s wrath. He now has two wives, two handmaidens, eleven sons (Benjamin, the 12th, was born later), one daughter, servants and possessions. But there is something that remains unsettled for him. It is the bad blood that exists between him and his brother Esau….Read on →

The Attribute of Loyalty

No question, the patriarch Jacob is a flawed individual. Of course he is intelligent and intuitive, but he is also calculating and dishonest. He tricks his own brother out of the birthright, and his own father, out of the blessing meant for his brother. And of course, his very name, Ya’akov, comes from the word…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 →

Kol Nidre and the Union Temple Connection

Kol Nidrei. . . The chanting of Kol Nidrei is the moment of greatest power and emotion for most Jews during the entire High Holy Day period. But the origins of this formula are not at all clear. The most popular theory is that it was linked to the Jewish conversos in Spain (often called…Read on →

Labor Day for Jews

A Day Off. . . I hope you all had a pleasant Labor Day. We spent it with our good friends, eating hot dogs and watching the US Open. A great way to spend the day. But Labor Day is also serious business. It reminds us of the centrality of work in our consciousness, and…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 →