Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

Archive

A Gut-Wrenching Week

This has been a gut-wrenching week for us as Americans, as Jews, as human beings. Whether we’re Democrats, Republicans, Independents; whether or not we have had the privilege of raising children ourselves, or have been part of the “village” that raises everyone’s children; it doesn’t matter. Just a shred of rachmones—compassion—is all it took this week for any…Read on →

Eilu v’Eilu

The central focus of this week’s Torah portion is the rebellion of Korach and his followers. Korach was a Levite, as was Moses—both descendants of the tribe of Levi, one of the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel). In effect, Korach and Moses were cousins. Nevertheless, within the Torah narrative, God alone had the power and…Read on →

Superhuman, Or Just Human?

“Faster than a speeding bullet; leaping tall buildings at a single bound; it’s a bird—it’s a plane—no—it’s Superman!” In the 1930’s, two American Jews, Jerry Siegel (the writer) and Joe Schuster (the illustrator), created the Superman comic strip character. The superhero made his first official appearance in Action Comics 1 in June of 1938, 80 years ago…Read on →

Purity and Taint

When I was growing up, my family belonged to an Orthodox shul on East 20th Street in Manhattan, just across from Stuyvesant Town, where we lived. A number of our friends belonged there too. The congregation identified itself as “Modern Orthodox,” and it was called Congregation Zichron Moshe. (Today the shul is owned and operated…Read on →

The Commandment to Love the Stranger

We have a double Torah portion this week, Acharei Mot–Kedoshim. We in the Reform Movement know Kedoshim particularly well, because in addition to this appearance in the calendrical cycle, it is our Torah reading for the afternoon of Yom Kippur. Kedoshim tihyu, ki kadosh ani Adonai Eloheichem… You shall be holy, for I your Eternal God am holy. So it…Read on →

Opening the Door for Elijah

As I was growing up, there were two highlights of Passover Seders for me—the reading of the Four Questions and opening the door for Elijah. My family followed the tradition at the time of assigning the reading of the Four Questions to the youngest son—never the daughter. So even though I was younger than my…Read on →

Money For Wheat

After our celebration of Purim last week, we are now full on in our anticipation of, and our preparations for, Passover. I have spoken often about an ancient custom at this time of year, and now I will speak about it again, because it is that important. The custom is known as Ma’ot Hittin (money for wheat)….Read on →

Mitzvah—A Holy Obligation

Toward the end of January, I received a call from my good friend Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis. He was calling on behalf of a synagogue in Bedford Stuyvesant that suffered a construction fire in late November, which rendered the building uninhabitable for the time being….Read on →

Truth and Lies

The centerpiece of our Torah portion this week is the Ten Commandments, or as the code is commonly identified in Hebrew, Aseret HaDibrot -“The Ten Words.” There are two in particular that deal with honesty. The third commandment: You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord your God; for the Lord will not clear one…Read on →

And You Shall Be a Blessing

This Shabbat is Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song, so-called because the Torah portion, Beshallach, contains Shirat HaYam, The Song of the Sea (Exodus 15.1-21), a beautiful paean of praise that Moses led the Israelites in singing as they walked through the Sea of Reeds on dry land. It is also called The Song of Miriam, because it concludes with Miriam’s…Read on →