Mother’s Day: A Celebration of Love and Forgiveness

Photo of Rabbi Sherre Hirsch
by Rabbi Sherre Hirsch
posted on May 6, 2021
Long before cancel culture was even in the lexicon, my brother and I decided to cancel Mother’s Day. We were rebellious teens and had incorrectly read that the holiday was invented by Hallmark to drive sales. As vociferous individualists against commercialism, we took a personal stand. Our plan was not well received. My father was furious, and my mother was destroyed. To this day, I still remember the tears gathering in her eyes as we explained why there would be no cards or gifts. I thought she would never forgive us. Read more...

The Faces of Lag Be-Omer

Photo of Pinchas Giller
by Rabbi Pinchas Giller
posted on April 29, 2021
Lag be-Omer, the 33rd day of the 49 days between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot, has many identities. In kabbalistic terms, the minor holiday begins as the celebration of the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the hero of the Zohar. The Talmud had told the tale of his flight from the Romans, hiding in a cave, located, variously, in Peki’in or Lod. That tale and others attested to a turbulent and romantic career for the 2nd century Tanna. His reappearance as the hero of the Zohar, a thousand years later, reinforced the strong shadow of his presence in the general imagination. Read more...

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...