Posts Tagged: Jewish history

Chanukah – From Battleground to Festival of Lights



By Rabbi Daniel B. Syme The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication” and refers to the joyous eight-day celebration through which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “rededication” of the Temple in Jerusalem. Technically, Chanukah is considered a “minor” Jewish festival. Yet […]

Read more

Night of Fire and Glass



by Stacey Zisook Robinson This poem was written in memory of Kristallnacht (Nov. 9-10, 1938) in honor of those who suffered. Stars littered the ground Crystal fire Shards of ice Glass The smoke of a thousand thousand years Ascended Coiling upwards, twisted With the memory of a People Chosen once in light Chosen again In […]

Read more

Oldest Known Auschwitz Survivor Dies



A spokesman at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum confirmed that Antoni Dobrowolski, the oldest known survivor of Auschwitz, died in Poland earlier this week at age 108. When the Nazi regime limited elementary education for Polish children to just four years of schooling, Dobrowolski participated in underground education efforts. In June 1942, he was arrested by […]

Read more

The Roots of Shabbat



by Rabbi Bernard M. Zlotowitz According to traditional Jewish belief, the Sabbath has its origin in God’s divine command to observe the seventh day as a day of rest and sanctification. Scholars, on the other hand, are divided in their opinion concerning the origin of the Sabbath, although they all agree that it was borrowed […]

Read more

No Word For Awe



NFTY in Israel alum Marlana Fireman writes about the incredible journey that a rock from Auschwitz took with her as she traveled from Europe to Israel and back to her home in Ohio. Read about the awe she discovered while contemplating the meaning her experiences this past summer, and find out why she says that “in my travels, no matter where I go or what I learn, I will do for those who couldn’t.”

Read more

Galilee Diary: Uncertainty Principle



How did they examine the witnesses? The pair that arrived first they examined first. And they brought in the elder of the two and said to him: Relate how you saw the moon: in front of the sun or behind the sun? To the north of it or to the south of it? How high […]

Read more

Understanding Yom Kippur – Then and Now



by Dr. Madelyn Mishkin Katz Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a concept I came to understand in my early adult years. But this was my understanding during my childhood:  Yom Kippur really translated into “Indian Summer.” Why? Every year my mother and I made our seasonal trip to Alexander’s in Paramus, N.J., to […]

Read more

Shabbat on Sunday? A Lesson in Jewish Leadership



by Rabbi Evan Moffic Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said that “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” Foolish consistency is clinging to a viewpoint when all evidence points to the contrary. It is refusing to change when change is the only approach that makes sense. The Talmud foreshadowed Emerson’s insight saying that “one should […]

Read more

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses



By Séverine Sokol Our parashah Eikev reminds us that God “upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, befriends the stranger, providing food and clothing – You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19) Scholars often note that the Israelite code of ethics was founded […]

Read more

The Importance of the History of Jewish Women



By Jessica Kirzane The history of Jewish women in America is important.  It’s not just important in some politically-correct way – I’m not saying we need to be thinking about and teaching about American Jewish women in order to prove that they ‘contributed’ to a male-dominated history, or just to make sure that everyone feels […]

Read more

A Rabbi Visits Berlin



by Rabbi Donald Kunstadt Why would a rabbi want to travel to Berlin, Germany? Certainly there are more pleasant places to visit, from Tahiti to Hong Kong, on the bucket list of life. Well, for one, Germany is closer. Second, I must admit a curiosity as to what modern-day Berlin is like. It has a […]

Read more

The New Tisha B’Av



By Rabbi Stacey Blank What can Tisha B’Av mean today? Tisha B’Av is not a day ordained by G-d in the Torah, but rather it is an observance that was created by people in reaction to an event: The destruction of the First Temple.  This was a tragic and traumatic time for the Jewish people […]

Read more

Tisha B’Av: Reflections from a Reform Jew



By P.J. Schwartz The ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av has come to symbolize a day of tragedy for the Jewish people. Tradition tells us that both the First and Second Temples were destroyed on Tisha B’Av, and history has shown that other prominent events resulting in catastrophe for the Jews occurred on […]

Read more

Tu B’Av, Cheshbon HaNefesh, and Our Capacity for Love



by Rabbi Jordi Schuster Battis The saddest period in the Jewish yearly cycle takes place in the summer months. Beginning with the 17th of Tammuz, which marks the breaching of the Temple walls by the Romans in 70 CE, our tradition calls for increasing mourning, climaxing three weeks later on the 9th of Av (Tishah […]

Read more