Hope in History: A Closer Look at Ma’zor Tzu

Photograph of Tamar Marvin
5779
by Tamar Marvin, PhD
posted on December 3, 2018
Of the rich tradition of piyyut—liturgical poetry—composed for Hanukkah, today two are customarily used: Ha-Nerot Hallalu and Ma’oz Tzur, which are sung after lighting the Hanukkah candles. The first, Ha-Nerot Hallalu, is cited in Massekhet Soferim and reappears later in the medieval period, when Maharam of Rothenberg mentions it again. Reflecting rabbinic discussions of the mitzvah of the Hanukkah candles, this straightforward hymn recalls the miraculous events, explains that the candles’ light is not for practical use, and expresses gratitude. Read more...

Open Your Eyes

Rose Prevezar
5779
by Rose Prevezer
posted on November 26, 2018
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
The Jerusalem Talmud tells us that Tamar would earnestly pray: “Master of the Universe, let me not go empty from this house!” With Judah withholding that which is owed to her - marriage to his remaining son and the security and children that would flow from that - she is in a state of despair. Overwhelmed with fear and with a longing to fill the emptiness in her heart and womb, she is compelled to enact a risky and potentially fatal plan by disguising herself as a sex worker in order to lie with Judah and conceive the promised child from the House of Jacob. Read more...

A Boy Named Jake

Photo of Joseph Shamash
5779
by Joseph Shamash
posted on November 20, 2018
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Our tradition gives a great deal of significance to our names. By naming our children after those who came before us, we hope and pray that our kids inherit the positive attributes of our ancestors. On the other hand, if you are Johnny Cash, you name your boy Sue so he grows up mean and tough in order to fight his way through this difficult world. Read more...

A Kindergarten Grading Rubric and its Practical Application

Photograph of Samuel Seid
5779
by Samuel Seid
posted on November 13, 2018
When I was in elementary school, my teachers graded the students on a scale of zero to four. Roughly translated, these number grades corresponded to the standard letter grades: zero was an F, one was equivalent to a D, two was C, and a grade of three was the same as a B. However, a four did not necessarily imply the same grade, as did an A in other settings. At my elementary school, I only earned a four on an assessment if I demonstrated the capacity to apply the newly learned knowledge or skill beyond the initial setting of the lesson. Read more...

On Behalf of His Wife

Headshot of Gail Labovitz
5779
by Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD
posted on November 6, 2018
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Among the several themes that wend their ways through the book of Genesis, one of the most obvious is infertility. Each of the matriarchs – yes, including Leah (Gen. 30:9) – experiences being unable to become pregnant for much of, or at least at some point during her life. In the ancient world, the inability to bear children was a terrible stigma for a woman; down to this day, the experience of infertility for those who wish to bear children and raise a family can be a source of great pain and even sometimes feelings of shame and failure.  Read more...