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Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Acharei Mot with Rabbi Laurence Bazer

by Shmuel Rosner

April 11, 2014 | 2:42 am

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Rabbi Laurence Bazer participate in the Menorah lighting during the Hanukkah reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 13, 2012. Official White House photo by Pete Souza.

Our guest today is Rabbi Laurence Bazer, the Rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom in Farmingham, Massachusetts. Rabbi Laurence Bazer was ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1993 and served as a rabbi on Long Island, New York for ten years before coming to Temple Beth Sholom in 2003. He received his Doctor of Ministry degree from The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2013 and is a certified pastoral counsellor. Rabbi Bazer is also a Colonel and the Joint Forces State Chaplain for the Massachusetts National Guard, and works with the Boston office of the F.B.I. For the past several years, Rabbi Bazer has also served on the New England Regional Board of the Anti-Defamation League and on the Cardinal's Review Board of the Archdiocese of Boston. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, serving as the Kabul Base Cluster Command Chaplain and Theater Jewish Chaplain where he received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one service star, along with other accommodations. In December 2012, Rabbi Bazer was privileged with the lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah at the 2012 White House Hanukkah Celebration by the President of the United States and the First Lady.

This week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:30) – describes the Tabernacle ceremony of the Day of Atonement, establishes general rules for sacrifice and sanctuary, and lays down specific laws about sexual relationships. Our discussion focuses, among other things, on the relation between Yom Kippur (the subject of the first part of the portion) and the celebration of Passover. Additionally, Rabbi Bazer shared with us some of his experiences marking Yom Kippur in Afghanistan.

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