Chosen Together: The Ethical Significance of Shavuot

Rabbi Bradley Artson
by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
posted on May 13, 2021
Why is the festival of Shavuot called "the time of the giving of our Torah" and not the time of the receiving of our Torah?  Because the giving of the Torah happened at one specified time, but the receiving of the Torah happens at every time and in every generation.                                                             – Rabbi Meir Alter of Ger  Read more...

Memories and Questions

Photo of Michael Berenbaum
by Dr. Michael Berenbaum
posted on May 9, 2021
Each year as Yom Yerushalayim approaches, I am flooded with memories and questions. Permit me to share both with you. I was in Jerusalem on the day of its reunification and I went to the Western Wall with more than 100,000 Israelis but 6 days later to celebrate Shavuot and what seemed then like Israel’s miraculous victory. Read more...

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...