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The Jewels of Judaism

Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2019 by Rabbi Jay Henry Moses

As a young rabbi starting my career in Chicago I had the privilege of learning from my late teacher and friend Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, z”l. Rabbi Wolf was a principled, philosophical, religious liberal, but even his liberalism took an occasional backseat to his other strong inclinations: he was a poetic soul and a contrarian. And so it was that he developed a lilting visual metaphor for a liberal approach to Judaism, but it was a metaphor which explicitly drew on the imagery of halacha, l…

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My Jew-rnery: A Search for Meaning

Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 by Sally Mundell

How did I get here? We all have our stories, and mine began with the loss of my husband six years ago. I’ll never forget walking my 2- and 5-year old daughters down a long corridor to say good-bye to their father. In tragedy, we’re faced with two choices:   1) lose hope in something bigger and better because you can’t imagine a God who would do this to you  2) dig deep and look for the meaning in your tragedy.   I knew that my two little girls wouldn’t …

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Pluralism: Are we the Zealots of the Second Temple Period or the Sages of Yavneh?

Posted on Monday, February 11, 2019 by Samara Minkin

Back when the Temple was destroyed in 70 BCE, tribalism and sectarian infighting defined our people. Our response to that loss - so monumental that it permanently altered the physical and psychological landscape of Judaism - was the emergence of pluralism as a value.    It could not have been easy. Judaism in the late-Second Temple period was splintering. Jewish community comprised battling sects like Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, who often excommunicated one another. Remember too…

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A Birthday Wish for Israel

Posted on Wednesday, February 06, 2019 by Natalie Barth

A Monumental Israel Trip Park Avenue Synagogue began planning a multi-generational, multi-track congregational trip to Israel two years in advance of the actual trip. We actually started talking about it a couple years before that, but it takes a while to socialize and build consensus for such a large endeavor. This allowed 450 congregants and staff who like to plan ahead to hold the date for winter break 2018 to celebrate Israel at 70 and our synagogue at 136. It also gave our lay leadership an…

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A Do Diligent Dozen List

Posted on Tuesday, February 05, 2019 by Rabbi Elka Abrahamson

We need a word for that feeling one experiences when you either a) reply all in error or b) send a sensitive (or worse) email to the wrong person…an easy mistake given the number of say, rabbis or David’s or Rachel’s you have on your contact list. If you don’t know that feeling, you are not only lucky, you are unusual. And also, the odds that you will experience it at some point is highly likely. I suggest we call it a kishkor – a mash-up of kishke and error becaus…

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Bridging the Gap: When the 'Bluest of the Blue' Met the 'Reddest of the Red'

Posted on Monday, February 04, 2019 by Shuli Passow

In the spring of 2018, B’nai Jeshurun (BJ,) a congregation in New York with a long history of political involvement and social activism, undertook a unique experiment. At a time of growing political polarization, we wanted to explore what role we could play as a religious community in building bridges across divides, and what wisdom Judaism had to offer us in this process.  What would happen, we wondered, if the ‘bluest of the blue,’ urban, upper-middle class, liberal Jew…

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Contemporary Jewish Education: Attitudes to the Past That Will Determine the Future

Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2019 by Eitan Chikli

The ages of modernity, enlightenment, science and secularism that have dominated the western world for the last 200 years have put the chances of Jewish survival and continuity to the test. If for the course of almost 4,000 years Jews have felt that they were different from others and required to fulfill a godly mission, the strong urge to remain Jewish and pass this sense of mission on to the next generations is now fading in the modern era. Most modern Jewish thought and most of the modern exp…

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Dream Big

Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 by Bill Lipsey

האיש שרוצה לשבור את המונופול של הרבנות בישראל   “…the man who wants to shatter the Israeli Rabbinate’s monopoly.”    This quote was a recent headline in a Ynet article (article available here in Hebrew,) about The Honey Foundation, describing our mission and our dreams. The headline is right; I do hope to help break their monopoly. Monopolies abuse power. In Israel, that abuse has become so destructive to society and to the Jewish people that…

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Tiny Sparks of Light – Yidden Haltsach!

Posted on Thursday, January 10, 2019 by Gidon Rubinstein

“There will be no triumph of light over darkness, as long as we do not recognize the simple truth, that instead of fighting darkness, we should increase the light.” A.D Gordon. My grandfather Shmuel Mordechai Rubinstein, (but for me, he is dear Saba Shmuel,) after surviving the horrors of the Holocaust and making Aliyah, was approached one day by a stranger. The stranger said that Shmuel was responsible for saving his life while they were in Auschwitz. To my grandfather’s bewi…

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Staying Positive, Motivated and Authentic after a Campaign

Posted on Thursday, January 10, 2019 by Lindy Miller

July 28, 2017 was a very big day for our family. It was the day I quit my job of 13 years and stepped away from a company I co-founded. Three days later I did something I had always dreamed of: I filed papers with the Georgia Ethics Commission to run for office. I entered politics as a first-time candidate because I was concerned about the future of our country. We had become so divided. A failure of leadership at the top perpetuated a belief that our politics is beyond repair, that it is point…

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