Archive by Author

Vayikra: Restoring the Fires of Israel



ARZA’s Torah commentary explores connections in the weekly Torah portion to the Land of Israel through the lens of tradition and in our own day. Readers are absolutely encouraged to share this material for weekly Torah classes, conversations, and the Shabbat table, remembering, of course, that “Whoever conveys a teaching in the name of the person […]

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What is sometimes worse than losing a revolution? Winning



A D’Var Torah for Parashat Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19) What is sometimes worse than losing a revolution? Winning. The day after the revolution is over we often see revolutionaries demonstrating behavior of great let-down or even depression. The fight is over, the cause has been achieved, and now the really hard work begins. Building. Laying groundwork, […]

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The Talmudic Art – and Challenge – of Compromise



In the wake of the historic decision of the Israeli cabinet to create an expansive egalitarian section at the Western Wall, a lot of soul-searching has ensued. Count me among those who celebrate this as a momentous event for Jewish pluralism in the State of Israel—even as I acknowledge the dismay of those who say […]

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Thoughts on the Kotel, the day after…



Shalom Haverim, Yesterday we all learned of the historic vote that took place in Israel recognizing an interdenominational consensus on Judaism’s holiest site.  The Government of Israel officially approved the expansion of the egalitarian section of the Western Wall known as the “Ezrat Yisrael”.   Why is this so dramatic and important? As our partners in […]

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Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by Dan Ephron



Twenty years after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, a horrible question arises: Was the murder a complete and unmitigated success? I remember exactly where I was on November 4, 1995:  dozing with family on a lazy Shabbat afternoon. The TV was on, and it grabbed our attention when the program cut to breaking news. Rabin […]

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Im Tirtzu: Just Lashon Hara or Worse?



By now, many of us have seen the video. It opens with a horror-film score and a scene of everyday Israeli life. A dark, bearded, sinister man approaches the camera and raises a knife. You, the viewer, are the victim of a terrorist attack. The narration then begins, in the tone of a spy thriller. […]

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Celebrating American Thanksgiving in Israel during the past 40 years



Reminiscing about Thanksgivings past and our first celebration as a young couple living in Kiryat Nordau, Netanya found us hosting Israeli cousins who had been exceedingly kind in welcoming us as new olim.  They joked for many years after about ‘Tanksgiving’. Working with NFTY and with Indiana University students at Hebrew University, I came to […]

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When It Comes to the Middle East, It Can’t Be All Black and White



by Kendra Gerstein As a community, we feel deeply the recent acts of violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is painful to see these senseless attacks being repeated day after day. Many of us feel both angry and sad as these events continue to unfold. As fears and tensions rise, the outcry is […]

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Mourning Former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon



by Rabbi Bennett Miller and Rabbi Joshua Weinberg On January 4, 2006, while serving as prime minister, just two-and-a-half months shy of elections that he was expected to win in a landslide, Sharon suffered a devastating stroke and never recovered. Sharon lost the final battle and died on Shabbat January 11, 2014 at the age […]

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Our Kehilah is a Vineyard



by Susan Fritsch Cohen The following poem was written by Susan Fritsch Cohen on a recent trip to Israel with Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation. Of the trip, Susan said, “Our congregational trip had a transformative effect on me – it solidified my connection with Israel and with the community I traveled with, and that inspired me […]

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Something’s Sprouting at Kibbutz Yarok



By Persephone Rivka and Sophie Vener In permaculture, Bill Mollison advises all gardeners and farmers to live in a tent on their land for a year before they start their design for one reason: observation. When immersed in a place, one can best observe important elements such as the amount of rainfall, where the water […]

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Home for the Holidays



by Rabbi Ira Youdavin My plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport last Wednesday evening, four days before I would be joining the Jewish Council for Public Affairs National Leadership Mission, and 72 hours before the first night of Hanukkah. The early arrival was different from my usual pattern. Normally, I speed from the airport to […]

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The Pillar and the Dome



Michtav M’Yerushalyim November 19th, 2012 Dear friends and family members, We begin with a word of thanks to the incredible number of you who have called and/or written – to express solidarity with Israel as well as your concern for our personal well-being.  This ‘connectedness’ means the world to us. We will in particular forever […]

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Israel Goes to the World Baseball Classic (Part 1)



by David Leichman and Rabbi Miri Gold A dream became a reality when the Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) received an invitation to participate in Qualifier 1 for the 2013 World Baseball Classic in Jupiter, FL. The World Baseball Classic is sponsored by Major League Baseball (MLB) and takes place every four years. The next […]

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