Our guest this week is Rabbi Rachel Isaacs of the Beth Israel congregation in Waterville, Maine. Rabbi Isaacs was the first openly gay Rabbi to be ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary. Prior to the JTS, Isaacs earned her B.A. from Wellesley College in 2005, where she was the Hillel Co-President. Rabbi Isaacs, a former Wexner Fellow, has also studied in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In addition to her rabbinical duties, she currently serves as Jewish Chaplain at Colby College, where she teaches Hebrew and Jewish theology on campus.
This week's Torah portion – Parashat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22) – is the first portion from the book of Deuteronomy. In this parasha, Moses begins his review of the story of the people of Israel in the 40 years following their exodus from Egypt. In his narrative, he recalls events such as his appointment of Judges and magistrates; the wandering through the desert; the sending of the spies; the people's spurning of the Promised Land; the wars fought against the Emorite kings; and his own words of encouragement to his successor Joshua. Our talk focuses, among other things, on the role of personal narrative and life experiences in forming our attitude towards our legacy.
If you would like to learn some more about Parashat Devarim, take a look at our conversation with Rabbi Elie Kaunfer.