July 2, 2015
By Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt
In an extraordinary display of unity, a broad cross-section of American Jewish organizations joined to declare this coming Shabbat to be a “Shabbat of solidarity with the African-American community.” In light of the horrific act of violence in Charleston, South Carolina, leaders of the Jewish community are asking their members to participate in this Sabbath of solidarity.
Among the suggested actions for rabbis, congregations and organizations are to speak out in synagogues this coming Shabbat on the issue of racism in society and to express rejection of hateful extremism. All rabbis and congregations are encouraged to reach out to AME churches in their communities with expressions and demonstrations of support. Read the rest of this entry »
June 30, 2015
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976) directed by Alan J. Pakula
Every day I pray that I will have a sense that God is always in front of me, that He is always in the room. It helps me control my thoughts, my actions, and my speech. When things irritate me, I think long and hard as to whether I want to respond to a provocation or to an unkind word. In general, I do not regret being silent, but I do regret a hurtful word that I may have uttered to someone, even when my intentions were noble.
I was reminded of the power of words as I watched the gripping political thriller All the President’s Men, which portrays in detail the intense investigative newspaper work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they painstakingly researched the Watergate burglary, eventually leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Woodward and Bernstein seem like two Talmud study partners who continually probe each other to ascertain the truth. Each questions the other and is unafraid of challenging or criticizing his friend. Their frank criticism of each other is not personal, but rather a sign that each one trusts the other to be honest and not to advance any personal agenda. Their shared mission, to discover what the Watergate burglary was all about, makes their egos subservient to the greater purpose of their work. It is this understanding of their common goal which is at the heart of their friendship and their search for truth. Read the rest of this entry »
June 28, 2015
Bonna Devora Haberman, an initiator of the Women of the Wall movement and a well-known professor at Harvard, Brandeis and Hebrew University, died on Tuesday after a prolonged battle with cancer.
A National Jewish Book Award finalist, the Canadian-born Haberman was the author of Israeli Feminism Liberating Judaism: Blood and Ink and ReReading Israel: The Spirit of the Matter.
Her work in and out of academy fuses critical interpretation of texts and culture with passion for social betterment.
She made aliya in 1988, but returned to the US to teach until 2004. At Brandeis, Haberman founded and directed the Mistabra Institute for Jewish Textual Activism – addressing difficult texts and social problems using performance arts.
The latest Woman of the Wall prayer gathering at the Western Wall last week was dedicated to Haberman.
Haberman is survived by her husband Shmuel Browns and five children.
This appeared in The Jerusalem Post
June 23, 2015
Asher Kravitz writes from a unique perspective of a Jewish dog in 1935 Germany. From the first chapter, the reader will know this will be a delightful little book, even given the topic of Nazis and the Holocaust. Caleb, the Jewish dog, has an immediate love for his Jewish family. Caleb is smart and understands love and loyalty. When his family’s fortunes turn, due to an increasing number of rules against Jews, Caleb is given away. His next family is less than loving and Caleb realizes his own fortune has changed, too. He runs away and ends of with a Nazi family and then as a stray. Finally Caleb becomes a dog trained to smell out Jews and is relocated to Treblinka. Caleb wrestles with his Jewish past, as well as, his own need to survive while being fed by the Nazis. Read the rest of this entry »
June 21, 2015
By Rabbi Ari Kahn
In the third volume of his series of books on the Torah, Rabbi Francis Nataf delves into the book of Bamidbar. As the title indicates, the premise for the entire series is that the Torah has relevance for modern life – relevance that must be redeemed. The book is not a commentary, at least not in the classic sense: It contains seven chapters, leaving entire parshiot untreated. Rather than offer a running commentary or verse-by-verse elucidation of the text, Redeeming Relevance paints with broad strokes, articulating major themes in the book of Bamidbar – clearly, articulately, with elegance and wisdom. Read the rest of this entry »
June 17, 2015
Review by Miriam Kates Lock
The Jewish Dog tells the story of the Holocaust from a point of view that has presumably never before been explored. In this curiously original tale, Caleb, an intelligent and pensive pup, is born in the home of the Gottlieb family, a traditional Jewish family living in Germany in the 1930’s. From the very beginning Caleb is sensitively aware of his surroundings and tries to figure out the world around him. He is particularly interested in humans, their language and the role they play in his life. He loves the Gottliebs and is relieved when he is the only one of his mother’s litter who is not separated from her. Unfortunately, he ultimately does get separated from her and from the Gottliebs as well, as the events taking place in Germany begin to affect not only the lives of Jews but even the lives of dogs.
When a law is decreed that Jews can no longer own dogs, Caleb is taken in by a German family who mistreats him terribly. When this family passes him on to an SS officer whose young son is thrilled with him, at first he thinks he is lucky but later he runs away to look for the Gottliebs. Eventually he is captured by Nazis who send him to be trained as a guard dog. Read the rest of this entry »