A Boy Named Jake

Photo of Joseph Shamash
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...

Two Brothers, One Blessing

Headshot of Rabbi Edward Feinstein
by Rabbi Edward Feinstein
posted on November 22, 2015
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Pity Esau. One moment of weakness, one momentary impulse, and his birthright is gone. He rushes to fulfill his father's dying wish for a savory meal, and while he's out hunting, his mother and brother conspire to rob him of his blessing. Returning to his father with the feast, expecting at last to gain his due, he is met with his father's empty excuses. And so he cries: "Have you but one blessing, Father? Bless me too, Father!" And Esau wept aloud (Genesis 27:38); tears of betrayal, of pain, of rage, of broken dreams. Read more...

"Voice, Justice, and Reconciliation"

Headshot of Gail Labovitz
by Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD
posted on November 30, 2014
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
In her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, one of the foundational works of 3rd wave feminism, Susan Brownmiller writes: "A female definition of rape can be contained in a single sentence. If a woman chooses not to have intercourse with a specific man and the man chooses to proceed against her will, that is a criminal act of rape." However, she then must add in the very next sentence, "Through no fault of woman, this is not and never has been the legal definition." (8) Read more...

The Bedtime Question

Headshot of Rabbi Ilana Berenbaum Grinblat
by Rabbi Ilana Berenbaum Grinblat
posted on December 1, 2012
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
"Why does Abbah (Dad) want to listen to Israeli radio so much?" My eight year old son Jeremy asked me as I was tucking my five year old daughter Hannah into bed. Oh no, I thought. I had hoped to avoid this conversation. I had hoped to spare my children from worrying about our family in Israel and my daughter's best friend who is in Jerusalem for the semester. But the kids could tell something was up. "There are some problems in Israel now." I began gently. "What kind of problems?" Jeremy asked. Read more...

Name your Blessing

by Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
posted on December 10, 2011
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
There is a remarkable scene in this week's Torah portion that calls our attention. Alone in the dark, anticipating a reunion with his brother after a multi-decade rift, Jacob spends the night wrestling with another man, stopping only as dawn was breaking. Who exactly he is wrestling with - a man, an angel, himself - is understood in unique ways by different commentators. Regardless of who it is, however, at the end of this long night of wrestling, Jacob tells him: "I will not let you go, unless you bless me." So, what happens next? Read more...