I can vividly remember the first time I visited the Museum of Tolerance, in seventh grade. Not personally knowing anyone who had survived the Holocaust, I had been shielded from the grisly details of World War II.
Discussion of Josh Swiller's first book, "The Unheard," published in September, and his recent reading at Dutton's Bookstore in Brentwood. Swiller's book deals with his time in Africa with the Peace Corps, and in it he tells a story of deafness and Africa, explaining how, in African villages, he communicated in English, Bemba and oftentimes without words.
How much easier would it be to build a world of love, compassion, justice and peace than the continued path of war and violence?
Kedoshim is a lofty and powerful parsha, known as the holiness code, which the Talmud and Midrash understood to be rav gufei Torah, or encompassing the majority of the Torah, namely that this chapter is a summation of the entire Torah itself.
Religious zeal is on the rise around the world. It can be a wonderful blessing, and it can be a horrible curse. It all depends on how humans with free will manage it.
The wisdom to help others is not privileged information. It is taught to all of us through our life experiences.
Carolyn Blashek is a Jewish mother in Encino who, like most Americans, was horrified by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. However, her reaction was slightly different than that of the average Jewish mother -- she tried to enlist in the military.
For more than 30 years, the settlers' dream has choked the dream of free Israelis. The dream of the whole land of Israel and a messianic kingship drains daily the hope of being a people free to build a just society.
I worry about children who are told they must get every answer correct. I worry about kids told there's no room for second best. I worry about the child who must always be the star. If we demand success each time, and leave no room for failure, our children's dreams will shrink to fit their certainties. They will play it safe and never try too hard, never reach too far, never put too much of themselves into any pursuit. It is entirely possible to exalt the mind while crushing the soul.
Let me tell you why this honor means so much to me. I did not learn about the Holocaust in school. I did not really understand what happened until I came to America. And even today, I am still learning. Just when I think I have heard a story so horrible that it cannot be surpassed in barbarity, I hear or read something even more inhumane and incomprehensible.
For the last eight years, Chadorchi, a Beverly Hills resident in her 20s, has become a rare jewel in the Persian Jewish community, quietly mobilizing a small army of friends, family members and local students to respond to the plight of the homeless in Los Angeles.
Despite the High Holidays arriving late this year, many Jews are still scrambling to prepare. The practical and spiritual work is demanding: cooking, traveling, repenting, forgiving -- it all takes time and energy.
In anticipation of the Day of Judgment, Jews judge themselves this month, conducting a cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the soul). Some people resist this not just because it is daunting, but because the process seems negative. They don't want to be mired in self-criticism.
But accounting means looking at both sides of the ledger -- deposits and withdrawals, mitzvot and sins. One way to balance the ledger is to reduce withdrawals; the other is to increase deposits. The latter method may be even more effective, because our assets (good deeds) can be leveraged to eliminate bad debt (sins that seem so enticing at the time, for which we pay later).
This week's Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, offers many laws that can increase rachamim (compassion, mercy). Rachamim is a particularly valuable asset, because it offsets anger and augments patience. We can deliberately grow midat harachamim in ourselves. The goal is to make compassion greater and more important than being right. Thus, we imitate God, who is said to pray: "May My mercy overcome My anger" (Berachot 7a).
When the woman at the ice rink said to me, "Remember, listen well for when you do you really can achieve anything," she was, in effect, summarizing the message of Parshat Mishpatim: Listen to the words of Torah and you can achieve a just society.
When you go to the synagogue, you just might be sitting next to someone who sexually abused his daughter. You might be shaking his hand, admiring his charming demeanor, thinking how lucky his family is to have him.
I am a vegetarian. I know there was a big controversy brewing over kosher meat, but I'm not sure what the Jewish position
on vegetarianism is. I suppose as long as the vegetables are pulled from the ground in a quick and humane manner, no one can object too strenuously to it. I know God created animals, but I can't imagine He'd be offended if I didn't eat them. I'd hate to think of God pouting in His room saying, between sobs, "I worked so hard on that lamb and Nemetz doesn't even touch it!"
Last week for Chanukah I wrote about latkes, this week, the brisket.
know there are many Palestinians out there who are sickened and ashamed by what happened in Gaza to the remains of the six dead Israeli soldiers.
I don't hold them responsible; I don't associate them with those acts just because they are Palestinians or Arabs, not in any way.
In fact, I think it's important now to remember Arabs like the Palestinian man who drowned in the Sea of Galilee a couple of years ago trying to save a drowning Israeli boy. I remember a Jaffa Arab who was killed in 1992, I think, trying to stop a wild man from Gaza who was slashing at Jewish children with a saber.
The day my mother was transferred from a nursing home to a hospice, I raced from Baltimore to northeastern Pennsylvania. This 80-mph excursion into death -- my mother's death -- might rescue me from whatever boredom and tedium had enveloped me, but it would also plunge me into a realm where I didn't necessarily relish going. But go I went. For you see, there was no choice.
Our Torah portion employs an enigmatic turn of phrase that appears quite instructive in this regard. As God commands Moses to solicit the necessary stuff to build the Sanctuary, He demands that the Jews "take for Me a portion."
Like many hothead progressives around the world, I preach antiracism, teach multiculturalism and recognize the United States to be a politically and culturally imperialistic society.
Proper revolutionary that I am, I have no problem with guerrilla warfare against oppressive regimes, and I fully recognize that "terrorism" can be a political term used to invalidate the violent behavior of one group and justify that of another.
One might say I'm an all-around, groovy radical. And yet, I've got a major problem with compassion for Palestinian suicide bombers blowing up Israeli citizens
I have concerns about Arnold Schwarzenegger other than the fact his father was a Nazi ("Arnold's Challenge" Aug. 29).
What do cloven-hoofed cud-chewers have to do with ritual purity, much less holiness? In what way do fins and scales on a fish acknowledge God as the One who redeemed us from slavery? The "explanation" for kashrut demands further explanation.
A new president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) was inaugurated in a moving ceremony held Oct. 13 in the ornate Plum Street Temple in downtown Cincinnati.
Dennis Prager uses half of what I said to the L.A. Times and gives the impression that I am one of those awful leftists who are "either morally confused, immoral or lack courage."