Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

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Long Live the King?

While our Torah portion, Shofetim – Judges – is indeed about judges, and their responsibilities for maintaining judicial integrity in Ancient Israel, I’d like to focus for a moment on another type of leader in Ancient Israel mentioned in this portion. That is the king. We know that beginning around 1,000 B.C.E., kings did exist…Read on →

Praying for Amatrice

Our thoughts and prayers will be with the people of Italy on this Shabbat, as they continue the heartbreaking work of digging out the city of Amatrice after a 6.2 earthquake toppled the beautiful city and environs in central Italy earlier this week. We know that their mourning has only just begun, and the devastation…Read on →

Lloyd George, Sir Herbert Samuel, Arthur Ruppin, and The Sabbath of Comfort Inbox

This Shabbat immediately following Tishah B’Av is known in our tradition as “Shabbat Nachamu,” “The Sabbath of Comfort,” after the first few words of the Haftarah portion from Chapter 40 of Isaiah: Nachamu, nachamu ami – Take comfort, take comfort, O My people. During the Winter Study Retreat of the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative of the…Read on →

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 →

Jerusalem Pride

In our Torah portion for this week, Bylam, a popular magic man known throughout the Ancient Near East, was summoned by the Moabite King Balak to throw a curse upon the Israelites, who were camped on the Steppes of Moab. Though the Israelites meant him no harm and were just passing through on their way…Read on →

Graduation Day

The highlight of this past week for me was the graduation of the fifth cohort of the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (fondly abbreviated as “RLI V”) from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. We are now officially Senior Rabbinic Fellows of the Institute. For the past three and a half years, I have joined 26 other…Read on →

“What will THEY say?!”

Within our Torah portion this week is a remarkable exchange between Moses and God. We remember that Moses sends twelve scouts, one from each of the tribes, to scout out the Land of Israel. The scouts return with fruits of the Land, but ten of them bring reports of doom and gloom: “It is a…Read on →

Naomi and her Daughters-in-Law. Marc Chagall

The Anti-Racism of Ruth

In this contentious campaign season we continue to be bombarded by unbridled anger and malicious invective against foreigners, immigrants, Muslims and Mexicans, and anyone else who might fall into the category of “other,” in the eyes of Mr. Trump. As Americans, we must reject this pernicious xenophobia. As Jews, we view this mindset as particularly…Read on →

Demand Justice

You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich, judge your neighbor fairly. (Leviticus 19.15) This week we are reading the “Holiness Code” of Leviticus. In addition to this calendrical position in the lectionary, the Reform Movement also chose this portion as the Torah reading for…Read on →