Jewish Journal

Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

  • Tonight, we do not study Torah: Parashat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22)

    4 days ago

    For many years, Tisha b’Av was off the radar of the national Israeli narrative. Many Israelis viewed the ancient day of fast as an antiquated observance lacking contemporary relevance. Some argued that Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron are the “new Israeli Tisha b’Av,” and — especially...

  • Jews Criticizing Israel

    June 12, 2015 | 2:36 pm

  • Passover: A lesson in political science

    March 25, 2015 | 11:00 am

    Decades ago, before the creation of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion gave a brief lesson in Jewish history: 

    “Three hundred years, ago a ship called the Mayflower set sail to the New World. This was a great event in the history of England. Yet I wonder if there is one...

  • Bibi, Obama and Shabbat Zachor

    February 27, 2015 | 5:56 am

  • When Rabbis Engage in Fraud and Bribery…

    February 12, 2015 | 5:39 pm

  • Sephardic Mini Course

    January 20, 2015 | 5:40 pm

  • Torah portion: Father and son

    December 10, 2014 | 1:56 pm

    Communication between Jacob and Joseph was sparse, and the dynamic between them was less than exemplary. The first time we hear Joseph speaking to his father, he is gossiping about his brothers. Jacob does not respond. Instead we are told, “He loved Joseph more than all his...

  • Terror, BDS & the “Isaac Factor”

    November 20, 2014 | 2:44 pm

  • Torah portion: Challenging God

    September 10, 2014 | 11:34 am

    Does the classic Jewish tradition allow room for challenging God? Our prayers constantly praise and bless God, but are there any sections of our liturgy that formally level an open challenge to God? 

    In one of Judaism’s earliest prayers — the “tithe declaration” — we find an...

  • The Son of Hamas vs. The Sword of Islam

    August 22, 2014 | 3:24 pm

  • José Nessim, Sephardic Jewish Leader; 91

    August 20, 2014 | 10:00 am

    Dr. José Nessim, a beloved family man, respected physician and transformative Jewish leader, died peacefully in his home on Shabbat, July 26, surrounded by his loving family, at the age of 91.

    Born in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Oct. 28, 1922, the young Nessim came to the United...

  • Why We’re Not Going to Paris

    July 25, 2014 | 5:45 pm

  • Anxiety, hope, unity, grief, outrage, fear, trauma, uncertainty …

    July 16, 2014 | 3:29 pm

    I landed in Israel just a few days after the abduction of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach. I had been here two weeks earlier, in an Israel that was celebrating Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Euroleague Basketball Championship. I spent quality time with my son Ilan and his...

  • Torah portion: Light at the end of the tunnel

    July 16, 2014 | 9:19 am

    The Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Many would argue that the Bible is the Jewish people’s ultimate artistic masterpiece. If that’s the case, then Jewish history has been one long journey of “life imitating art,” and both...

  • Strength in unity

    May 14, 2014 | 10:09 am

    Toward the end of his life, Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel, Israel’s first Sephardic chief rabbi, composed his last will and testament to the Jewish people. In what is now considered a classic spiritual document and taught in schools throughout Israel, the theme of Rabbi Uziel’s...

  • Mimouna: In my mind I’ve gone to Marrakech

    April 18, 2014 | 10:26 am

    Tirbah u’tissad — may you prosper and succeed. This Judeo-Arabic blessing is the manner in which North African Jews greet one another just moments after Passover formally ends, on the night we call “Mimouna.”

    For many Jews, the night Passover ends is typically the night to turn...

  • Purim: There’s something about Esther

    March 12, 2014 | 11:45 am

    If I were assigned the task of writing a biblical-style script for a play or a movie, the Book of Esther is the last place I would turn for inspiration. The word “biblical” conjures up images of God, prophets, dreams, visions and supernatural miracles — all of which are strikingly...

  • Torah portion: Bridging Judaism’s generation gap

    February 26, 2014 | 2:43 pm

    How do we preserve tradition while simultaneously introducing new ideas? Can worldviews from the past coexist with those of the new generation? From Shabbat tables and Passover seders to public forums and debates, we find an ever-widening generation gap in the Jewish world on...

  • Hanukkah in the White House

    December 5, 2013 | 9:06 am

  • Thanksgivukkah, Emma Lazarus & the Maccabees: Embracing our dual identity

    November 27, 2013 | 12:09 pm

    There is something much deeper to “Thanksgivukkah” than sweet potato latkes. It is an opportunity to celebrate the blessing of our dual identity as Americans and Jews.

    In 1883, the Jewish-Sephardic-American poet Emma Lazarus was invited to write a poem for a literary auction...

  • The long and winding road: Parashat Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1–17:27)

    October 9, 2013 | 3:24 pm

    The day God pronounced two simple words — lech lecha — Abraham and Sarah’s lives changed forever. God instructs Abraham to leave his homeland, his birthplace and his father’s home, “to the land that I will show you, and there I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis 12:1-2)....

  • Sukkot: Life Beyond the Newest iPhone

    September 17, 2013 | 9:43 pm

  • Spiritual dispatches: Yom Kippur

    September 11, 2013 | 2:45 pm

    “This is Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem, Reshet Aleph and Reshet Bet. Shalom and Gmar Hatimah Tovah. It’s 3 p.m. An official IDF [Israel Defense Forces] spokesman reports that at approximately 2 p.m. today, the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched attacks in the Sinai and in the Golan...

  • Rav Uziel: A Modern Sephardic Visionary

    August 29, 2013 | 6:02 pm

  • Sephardic Blessings

    August 22, 2013 | 4:49 pm

  • Women of the Word

    June 27, 2013 | 8:17 am

  • Women of the word: Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

    June 26, 2013 | 6:05 pm

    On a recent trip to New York, I spent Shabbat morning at The Jewish Center in Manhattan, a vibrant Modern Orthodox community. As services came to a close, the 500 congregants did not make the typical mad rush for the door. Instead, everyone remained seated, anxiously waiting to...

  • An Old-New Way of Looking at Judaism

    June 17, 2013 | 4:48 pm

  • About

    June 12, 2013 | 4:46 pm

  • A Sephardic S.Y. Agnon

    April 18, 2013 | 10:50 am

    In current discourses on modern Israeli literature, the names Oz, Yehoshua and Grossman typically dominate the discussion. But how often do we hear the name Haim Sabato? Who is Sabato, and why is his writing often compared to Nobel Prize-winning Israeli author S.Y. Agnon?

    When I...

  • Power of ten

    January 30, 2013 | 3:55 pm

    Sometime during the 13th century, in a private study in Barcelona, an anonymous author sat and composed “Sefer HaChinuch” (“The Book of Education”). This systematic study of the Torah’s 613 commandments was beautifully written as a gift from a father to his son. In his...

  • Rabbi Uziel’s overture to Muslim leaders

    November 15, 2012 | 8:19 pm

    During our Sephardic Film Festival this past week, we screened a film telling the intriguing and inspirational life story of Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel, the first Sephardic Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel. Rabbi Uziel’s motto was “Loving Truth and Peace.” We also screened a...

  • Why Abraham?

    November 1, 2012 | 3:44 pm

    He had only God’s endorsement. Otherwise, this newly chosen leader of the world was a virtual unknown. He didn’t campaign for very long; he suddenly appeared on the scene, going on to change the world.

    Who was Abraham, and why was he chosen? What was the purpose behind choosing...

  • Call to war

    June 6, 2012 | 2:11 pm

    There are powerful moments when life’s experiences bring deeper meaning to the Torah and her classic commentators.

    It was Shabbat, June 5, 1982.

    I was nearing the end of my first year abroad in Israel, and I spent that Shabbat in Haifa with my family. A few days earlier, on June...

  • Lost in translation

    April 4, 2012 | 1:38 pm

    “Our Passover seder is translated into Arabic,” I used to tell my friends in school. “Arabic?” they responded in bewilderment. “That’s so weird! How could you translate a seder into Arabic? Isn’t Arabic the language of the enemy?”

    Growing up in a French-speaking...

  • Hillel’s voice is back, and she sounds great!

    February 3, 2012 | 6:08 pm

    This week I write to you from Jerusalem, inspired by the headline story from this past Tuesday ‘s Ha’aretz. On the first morning of my trip, here is the headline I woke up to: “New Orthodox Rabbinical Group Puts Israeli Women at Its Head – Hopes to Counter Creeping Religious...

  • Celebrating Gilad: The most joyous Sukkot of our lives

    October 19, 2011 | 6:00 pm

    When my wife Peni and I decided to take our kids to Israel for Sukkot, we knew that we would have a great time. We knew that Sukkot, referred to in our prayers as “Zman Simchateinu” (“Our time to rejoice”) would especially be celebratory in Israel. But we never could have...

  • A Beatles Passover

    April 14, 2011 | 8:06 pm

    Last night my family and I went out with some friends to the Pantages Theatre, where we took a musical journey back in time. For over two hours, the Broadway production of “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” took us through the tumultuous 1960’s and the great Beatles songs that...

  • Yom Kippur: The power of dialogue

    September 14, 2010 | 6:21 pm

    Thirty-nine years ago, Dov Indig, a young soldier in the Israel Defense Force tank corps, sat on guard duty in the Golan Heights. Joining him was a reserve soldier, many years older than Dov. During their four hours of guard duty, they engaged in a deep conversation about religion....

  • True Ten

    February 2, 2010 | 7:26 pm

    How many commandments are there in the Torah? To most people the answer is simple: 10.

    True, there are those who know the Torah contains 613 commandments, but the majority of people believe that there are only “The Ten Commandments.” For them, the 613 figure comes as a shock....

  • Sukkot with Ambassador Michael Oren

    October 12, 2009 | 3:35 pm

    Last week, I came very close to witnessing the Prophet Zechariah’s vision of many nations gathering together in Jerusalem to worship God on Sukkot. I was actually not in Jerusalem, but if the Israeli Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC, is considered Israeli soil, then I...

  • What Are You Learning?

    October 6, 2009 | 9:39 pm

    Nine years ago, while attending the United Jewish Communities’ General Assembly (GA) in Chicago, I had the privilege and pleasure of hearing Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk — known for bestsellers like “The Caine Mutiny,” “Marjorie Morningstar,” and “The Winds...

  • Give Shalom a Chance

    June 3, 2009 | 2:55 pm

    Someone would probably be labeled a hippie if he or she were to use the English word “peace” as a greeting or an expression when parting. Yet in Hebrew, the standard “hello” or “goodbye” is shalom (peace), and the word carries no modern cultural or political connotation. ...