Present in the Absence

Headshot of Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
5780
by Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
posted on March 11, 2020
Today we celebrate the holiday of Purim. A time of prizes, noisemakers, costumes and treats, Purim invites us to celebrate the absurd and laugh at ourselves. As we read the story from the Purim Megillah (scroll), we drown out the name of Haman, the evil man of Sushan who sought to destroy the Jewish people. Dressing in costume, eating the three cornered hamentaschen cookies, making noise, and celebrating beyond comprehension all draw our attention to the fun and frivolity of the day. And, of all of our holidays, it is about Read more...

Produce and Potential

Headshot of Gail Labovitz
5780
by Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD
posted on February 7, 2020
Tu Bishvat (the 15th of the month of Shevat) is first mentioned in early rabbinic tradition, as a “new year” for trees – or more accurately, fruit and nut-bearing trees. In fact, according to the Mishnah, in Rosh haShanah 1:1, trees may have two separate new years. One of these is on the first of Tishrei to mark the age of the tree (that is, no matter what date a tree was planted or replanted, it becomes a year older on the first of Tishrei; this is important because according to Lev. 19:23-25 one may not eat of the fruit of a newly planted tree for four years). Read more...

Taking Care of Yourself in the New Year

Headshot of Elliot Dorff
5780
by Rabbi Elliot Dorff, PhD
posted on January 1, 2020
Jews learn early in life that their Jewish heritage includes a strong focus on helping others.  The Torah has multiple laws that require us to take care of the poor (e.g., Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 15:7-15), and the Rabbis expanded on that to require that every Jewish community establish a soup kitchen to feed the poor and a charity fund to supply them with clothing and shelter (Tosefta, Pe’ah 4;9).  Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Torah, depicts God as caring for the widow, orphan, and stranger (10:18), and it bids us in several places to do so likewise (14:29; 16:11, 14; 24:19-21; Read more...