The study of history never lends itself to a single unambiguous view of the past. For history is, as the British scholar E.H. Carr observed in his famous 1961 book “What is History?” “a continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the past and the present.”
An Israeli-born filmmaker is slamming the British Broadcasting Corp. for pulling his documentary on the Jewish exodus from Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
In preparation for Israel’s 65th birthday, I recently reread Leon Uris’ novel “Exodus” — and found it disturbing and unsettling in many ways.
Rejoice! Spring has arrived, and Pesach is here. The time of our liberation is at hand. The Exodus from our narrow straits is re-enacted once more.
Frolicking with her fiancé in the cool waters of the Suez Canal, Lilian Abada would never have imagined she was about to experience the first of a string of events that would ultimately lead her to flee her native Egypt for Israel with only one suitcase.
The following text is excerpted from “The Bronfman Haggadah,” written by Edgar Bronfman with illustrations by Jan Aronson (Rizzoli, 2012).
Family is the foundation of American society, and united families strengthen us as individuals and as communities. Tragically, many immigrant families remain separated for years — often decades — because of our severely broken immigration system. Bureaucratic visa delays can go on for more than 20 years before a relative can enter the United States legally.
Francine Hermelin Levite and Edgar Bronfman have been using unique versions of the Passover Haggadah for years. Now both have decided to publish their versions of the Exodus story.
Pesach - the Hebrew name for Passover-- comes from the Hebrew root PSH which means to skip over, to pass over. It appears first in the context of the ten plagues, in which God skipped over the homes of the Israelites while the rest of Egypt suffered.
We are taught from a young age not to “judge a book by its cover” and we raise our children to look deeper than just at the clothes someone is wearing.
You shall make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).
I watched President Barack Obama’s second inauguration from the hospital room of my 92-year-old friend Harriet. She was having an EKG during it, even though we all agreed the numbers would not provide an accurate assessment of her condition — her medical condition, that is.
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 introduction, the author lovingly states that he wrote this book “to inspire the heart of my boy, my son, with an accounting of the mitzvot.”
This week’s parasha is one of the most central to the Jewish narrative. We read of the final plagues, the storm brought by God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm gathering on the border of Egypt, the Divine command to prepare for the Exodus by baking the matzot and eating the bitter herbs. It is the essence of the Passover story. Our greatest glory — Divine liberation — emanated from the nadir of our enslavement.
The biblical book of Exodus begins the ominous story of the Israelites’ descent into slavery with the following words: “A new generation arose” in Egypt that did not know Joseph.
Sitting down to the well-set table every November, even though it is filled with family and food, I always feel that something is missing -- a Jewish connection to the Thanksgiving story.
Sometimes we just can’t do as God asks. Our burden is too great. I run into this often when visiting hospital patients and their families during the High Holy Days. They feel mad at God for their circumstances and conflicts.
Passover celebrates the Exodus of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, their wandering in the desert for 40 years, and their ultimate deliverance to the Promised Land.
This Passover, Jews can still reliably be called “the people of the book.” If sales of newly published versions of the haggadah are any indication, on the first night of Passover, when it comes time to tell the story of the Exodus, most people sitting at seder tables will be holding in their hands a text that consists of printed words and images on paper.
The Passover Haggadah challenges us not just to remember the pain of slavery and the joy of freedom, but to relive the journey from one state to the other: “In each generation, every individual should feel as though he or she had gone out of Egypt.” How can we achieve that?
It’s a new year and we are beginning a new book of the Torah — Exodus. Unfortunately, we are dealing with the same old problem. Anti-Semitism, the oldest hatred, rears its ugly head.
When looking for biblical themes on the importance of community, one needs look no further than those portions at the end of Exodus that deal with the construction of the mishkan (Tabernacle). This special structure represents the collective spiritual power of the Jewish people, which is far greater than the sum of the individual parts. Separately, the individual Jew does not have enough spiritual energy to bring the Divine Presence, the Shekhinah, into this world. But when the Jewish people join in the construction of a communal edifice, a structure that represents their collective worship and spiritual energy, the Shekhinah eagerly embeds Itself within the people.
Idolatry. Sexual immorality. Murder. The description of the events of the Golden Calf in this week’s portion sounds like the outline for a new cable television series. By the end of the portion, the main characters of Aaron and the Hebrews are forgiven and allowed to keep going on their journey. But how? Isn’t the crime of the Golden Calf so great that it is unforgivable? How can we be forgiven — whether as a community or as an individual — for mistakes that are so overwhelming?
Nature abhors a vacuum. And so do biblical stories.
At the beginning of Shemot, when Jacob’s offspring were enslaved, oppressed and abused, where were the people who dared to speak truth to power? Where were the consumers who demanded that Egyptian products be free from slave labor? Alas, the world didn’t work that way then. Few stood up against the mighty overlords. We praise the exceptions, like midwives Shifrah and Puah, who defy Pharaoh’s deadly order (Exodus 1:15-21). Fewer still spoke out about how Egypt’s products were made; most Egyptians did not think twice about the morality of slave or child labor. Few if any cared about how much Egypt’s military-industrial complex profited from slavery, even though this cheap source of income fed the fires of Pharaoh’s ever-expanding conquests.
April 8 marks the Blessing of the Sun.
“The Blessing of the son?” asks my fourth-born, Danny, who coincidentally turns 18 on the same day.
Parshat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) Moses could have stayed in the palace and enjoyed royal privileges, but he chose to commiserate with his brothers and, indeed, tried to save one of them by killing the Egyptian taskmaster.
It's impossible to augur the future of the Jewish people. It can only be summed up in two words: "I hope."
Yossi Harel, Commander of Exodus, Dies at 90
Last week, a white-haired former shipmate propped a gold-fringed, pale blue flag of the legendary Exodus ship next to the coffin of its commander, Yossi Harel.
It's one of the great mysteries of the Jewish tradition. Every year, Jews around the world gather around a seder table to retell the story of our people's liberation from slavery. You can read a thousand articles, talk to a thousand rabbis, and they'll all say the same thing: At the Passover seder, we retell the story of the Exodus.
There's only one problem with this statement: It's not really true.
If you were paying attention during Genesis, the opening statement of this week's parsha may be perplexing: "And God (Elohim) spoke to Moses and told him: I am Adonai, I have appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not make myself known to them by my name Adonai" (Exodus 6:2-3).
How can that be possible? All through Genesis, God speaks to the patriarchs using the Tetragrammaton; the Ineffable Name; the Name written with the four quiet, almost mute letters Y, H, V and H but spelled Adonai, the Master. How can He tell Moses now that he never revealed this name to the patriarchs?
Over the last several years, in anticipation of the voyage's 60th anniversary, survivors of the Exodus have been asked to share their stories in an effort to solidify Exodus' place in history, before all that is left are the fictionalized and romanticized versions of the 1958 Leon Uris novel or the 1960 Otto Preminger film (and even those are already being forgotten). Among the recent projects are "Exodus 1947," a 1997 documentary film by Venice resident Elizabeth Rodgers, and a new release of journalist Ruth Gruber's account of the voyage, "Exodus 1947: The Ship that Launched a Nation" (October 2007, Union Square Press).
The Shah of Iran symbolized, with his youth and his seemingly limitless future, the power and grandeur that, we believed, would one day be his -- he symbolized for us a life of possibilities, such as we hadn't known for centuries.
Every human being is on a special journey; the secret, however, is to realize it. This, perhaps, is the Torah's message when it recounts the details of how the first Jewish house of worship, the Tabernacle, was constructed and dedicated.
If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I asked you if there were Passover experiences that really moved you. Well, all I can say is I'm glad I asked.
Holidays bring up feelings and memories about people who have died. They also offer opportunities to address unresolved issues. The four Yizkor services and the themes of their days correspond to different tasks of mourning.
That's why Rabbi Leah Kroll, who is also a rabbi at Stephen S. Wise Temple, founded "Dream Freedom" in 2001. Inspired by a former slave's book of the same name, which chronicles slavery in the Sudan, Kroll has conducted a monthlong project between Purim and Passover every other year to educate Milken's middle school students about the plight of slavery.
As we journey through Exodus we see the God of great power and might, the God who sends plagues, attacks Egypt and toys with Pharaoh's heart, all while trying to impress both the Israelites and Egyptians.
The Jews of Liudvinas were very much a part of the town. Their children attended school with Christian children. They were observant Jews, but dressed much as others did.
A new version of "The Ten Commandments," with its timeless themes of slavery and freedom, faith and doubt, adultery and fidelity, battles and miracles, has been shaped into a four-hour miniseries by ABC-TV.
Along with thousands of other Ethiopians fleeing their country, which at the time was ruled by communist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, the Jews settled in refugee camps in Sudan and waited for Mossad operatives to take them out.
"In the beginning, I didn't want to go to Jerusalem because I was scared of the journey," confessed Shirva Goyto'om, one of the lone Jews remaining in the province. Shirva lives in a small town about 30 miles west of the city of Shire, which itself has but one paved road.
They've come here and to slums in the city of Gondar from their rural villages, abandoning their farms and occupations as blacksmiths, potters and weavers to live near the aid compounds and, more importantly, to be close to the Israeli officials in whose hands their fate rests.
Amazingly, two-thirds of all the people who have ever lived past the age of 65 in the history of the world are alive today, according to Ken Dychtwald, author of "The Power Years: A User's Guide to the Rest of Your Life." This suggests that our way-beyond octogenarians in the Bible were the exception, not the rule.
This week we meet Moses, our new leader and adviser. Moses is commanded to go to Egypt, gather the people and demand their freedom from Pharaoh.
Earlier this summer, Shana Leonard gave up her Fairfax District apartment to move to New Orleans and be near her 82-year-old father, legendary jazz photographer Herman Leonard. But late last month, the 33-year-old single mother, who also cares for her wheelchair-bound 10-year-old daughter, India, found the three of them among the thousands racing to escape from New Orleans.