Portion


Why We Start With 'Bereishit'

By Ilana Grinblat

With the cycle of Torah reading beginning anew this weekend, Rabbi Ilana Grinblat looks at the reason why the Torah starts with Genesis, even though the first commandment doesn’t come until Exodus. In doing so, Grinblat consults both Rashi and her toddler daughterRead More


Excessive Pride

By Leah Hochbaum

When I was in the fourth grade, my Brooklyn yeshiva held a Torah fair. My partner — a girl whom I fancied a close friend but who was to move to California two years later, never to be heard from again — and I quickly decided on a parsha that had fascinated us since we’d learned about it earlier that year. We went to Manhattan Beach to gather sand, crafted petite people out of pipe cleaners and fashioned an angry God from cotton balls (stained red with a waxy Crayola crayon) purchased at a local drugstore. We then took a cardboard box, cut a large groove into the bottom, poured in the sand and glued our pipe cleaner people to the sides of the indentation so that they looked like they were falling into the cavernous space.Read More


Reluctant Prophets, Humble Leaders

By Peretz Rodman

‘My lord Moses, restrain them!” So shouts Joshua as he and Moses observe that two men, Eldad and Medad, are behaving as prophets within the Israelite encampment (Numbers 11:28). Prophecy, after all, is Moses’ claim to authority. Should it be discovered that Moses has no monopoly on prophetic powers, perhaps his authority would be eroded, his leadership subject to challenge. Joshua, as his loyal acolyte, is acutely sensitive to that danger.Read More


Making It Our Own

By Joshua Cohen

Late in Naso, this week’s portion from the Book of Numbers, we find Judaism’s most famous blessing. Beginning at verse 6:22, we read the following, in the version of King James.Read More


In the Wilderness of Ink

By Beth Bosworth

Certain scholars believe that the Redactor added a single sentence to this week’s Torah portion.Read More


Making It Our Own

By Jeffrey Fiskin

A fine day in Hollywood. Two white-robed and bearded gentlemen enjoy luncheon on the terrace of a movie studio commissary, when a third similarly dressed fellow in a fright wig stands on a nearby table and begins to rant about what evils will befall our errant kind.Read More


Your Duty as a Jew

By Daniel M. Jaffe

‘It’s your duty as a Jew to stay here in Kiev.”Read More


Distinction and Obligation

By Ilana Sichel

This week’s double portion, Aharei Mot and Kedoshim, begins with a litany of seemingly unrelated laws. The proscriptions include sexual conduct (“Let no woman lend herself to a beast to mate with it”), agricultural practices (“You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed”) and scapegoating (“He who set the Azazel-goat free shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water; after that he may re-enter the camp”).Read More


The Attraction of Irrelevance

By Jay Michaelson

Is our religious consciousness enhanced when we attempt to make our sacred scriptures relevant to a contemporary mind, or when we accept and enter into their foreignness, and allow them to be “irrelevant,” ancient, and utterly new?Read More


Ordaining Gay Men and Women

By Judith Hauptman

The portion of Shemini details laws of animal sacrifice and of kashrut. Without a Temple, we no longer bring God animal offerings. As a result of rabbinic interpretation, we now observe many more rules of kashrut than those written in the Torah. Over time, Jewish practice sometimes expands and sometimes contracts. For what reason? One good answer is ethics.Read More





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  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
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  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
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  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
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  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
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