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“Modim Anachnu Lach…”

Rabbi Hillel is well known for his description of Judaism. When approached by an individual who demanded that he would accept Judaism only if a rabbi could teach him the entire Torah while he, the prospective convert, stood on one foot, Rabbi Hillel said: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

This Thursday marks Tisha B’Av, the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av. Traditionally it is considered a day of mourning, commemorating major tragic events in Jewish history, including the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. In the Mishnah

Words “Spoken,” Not Always Words “Heard”

“…אֵ֣לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר דִּבֶּ֤ר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל” “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel… “These are the opening words of this week’s Torah portion, Devrarim. The “words,” of course, refer to the entire Book of Deuteronomy, and Moses is offering them to all the Israelites after their forty years in the wilderness. After a

Using Where We’ve Been to Get to Where We Need to Be

There is tremendous value in knowing where we are and where we’ve been. This week, as we conclude reading the Book of Numbers with the double Torah portion Matot-Mas’ei, the Israelites are concluding their wilderness wanderings. We see that Moses has recorded the starting points of their various marches (Num. 33:1-49). Moses, at God’s instruction,

The Talmud Warns Against “Overreacting”

Even when we know we are in the right and that the cause we are fighting for is a good one, too much zeal may lead us to an overreaction. This week’s Torah portion portrays the zealot Pinchas, who decides to take justice into his own hands. An inappropriate and public liaison between an Israelite

Let Freedom Ring…in Blessing

As July 4th weekend approaches and many (but not all) of our pandemic restrictions are being lifted, many of us may feel an overwhelming need to flee our homes and enjoy the outdoors. Even though we enjoyed more time with family and finding rest and relaxation in new pursuits, such as cooking and on-line learning,

Commitment to LGBTQ Equality Must Remain Strong

Yesterday’s Daily Briefing from JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) was sent out with the following in the email’s subject line: “Pride Month isn’t the focus for LGBTQ Jews this year.” The article quoted a number of prominent LGBTQ Jews who spoke of the affects the Covid-19 pandemic and the protests for racial justice were having on

Courage is at the Heart of Change

To see beyond what it is and conceive of the world as it ought to be takes courage. In this week’s Torah portion, Sh’lach L’cha, Moses chooses twelve leaders to go into the Promised Land to see whether it is conquerable and inhabitable. Ten come back with negative reports. Only Joshua and Caleb have the

Even Moses Couldn’t Do It All!

In its infancy of building national identity, the Israelites are suffering significant growing pains as they begin their wilderness wanderings in the Book of Numbers. Physical discomfort and emotional uncertainty fuel general unrest and rebellion. In this week’s Torah portion, B’haalot’cha, Moses, overwhelmed by the responsibilities of leadership, cries out to God (Num. 11:10-15). In

Our Nation is in Turmoil; We Must Not Remain Silent

The brutal murder of George Floyd has caused all of us to once again focus on the systemic and foundational racism on which our country is founded. As events of this past week continue to unfold, many of us watch in anger, sadness, and disbelief. The images of violence on the part of both police