Retraining Our Hearts

Photo of Rabbi Morris Panitz
by Rabbi Morris Panitz
posted on April 14, 2021
In AJU’s Miller Introduction to Judaism program, our class about Israel opens with the following question: Given the fact that for most of Jewish history, the majority of the People of Israel has lived in the Diaspora, how did we maintain a connection with the Land of Israel for thousands of years?  Students, many of whom are considering conversion, marvel at the fact that the land their partners or friends have spent perhaps just 10 days visiting, constitutes such a central facet of Jewish identity. Read more...

Memory for a Purpose

Headshot of Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
by Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
posted on April 13, 2021
An Israeli soldier is killed in service to the country. A young woman is murdered in a terrorist attack. Tens of thousands of men, women and children have been killed in terrorist attacks in the Land of Israel since 1860, the year that the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods. For Israel, Remembrance Day, Yom HaZikaron, which is commemorated this week, is a day of collective and personal anguish mingled with honor for those whose lives have been taken. Read more...

Legacy of Survivors

Photo of Michael Berenbaum
by Dr. Michael Berenbaum
posted on April 7, 2021
As we commemorate Yom Hasho'ah we again realize the distance that separates us from the event. We are in the midst of a transition between lived history and historical memory. Survivors who were but teenagers at the end of the war are now well into their nineties and the last survivors will be children survivors whose experience was all too real, yet whose recollections are often pre-verbal, images and feelings, which at a distance they were able to transmit in words. Read more...

Freedom: American vs. Jewish Concepts

Headshot of Elliot Dorff
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by Rabbi Elliot Dorff, PhD
posted on March 24, 2021
American Jews like to think of the American and Jewish sides of their identity as being congruent, that they not only agree with each other but reenforce each other. This was articulated, for example, in one of my hometown rabbi’s favorite readings in the Sabbath and Festivals Prayer Book, edited by Rabbi Morris Silverman and used widely in Conservative synagogues from 1946 to the publication of Siddur Sim Shalom in 1985. The reading, “America- Founded on Biblical Precepts” (pp. Read more...

Inside Outside, Upside Down

Headshot of Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
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by Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
posted on February 24, 2021
Purim is our annual Jewish carnival, a day of overflowing silliness and celebration. We dress up in costumes, make fun of ourselves, and laugh and revel as we recount the story of Haman, Mordechai, Queen Esther, and King Achashverosh. There really is no limit to how much we can sing, dance, and laugh - all in an effort to celebrate with intense joy and merriment. And, in perhaps one of the greatest acts of silliness, the debate about the role of getting drunk ensues throughout the generations of Jewish literature and Jewish communities. Read more...