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
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
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...

Self-Evident Truths

Rabbi Bradley Artson
by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
posted on February 11, 2021
On this Presidents’ Day celebration, can we admit the gap between our professed ideals and the grimy, bloody reality with which we live? Only then, I think, does our observance of the remembrance rise to be worthy of a free and democratic people. Without that recognition of the ideals yet to be achieved, we risk elevated military might and economic wealth to nearly-idolatrous levels of veneration.  Read more...