As the piano struck the first notes of Debbie Friedman’s “Elohai N’Shama,” Cantor Linda Kates paused before the approximately 1,500 people gathered in the sanctuary at Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) and recalled a story about how the late singer-songwriter energized a crowd of Jewish students while teaching them the song.
Amnesia of the past foreshadows amnesia of the future. Forget yesterday's tragedy and the threat to tomorrow is denied. Forget the first genocide of the 20th century -- the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 -- and the memory and atrocities of the first genocide of the 21st century in Darfur turn invisible, and the world response is muted.
It was July 12, 1984, my first day on the Ketziot basic training base, my new "home" as an IDF soldier in the Givati Infantry Brigade. One by one, we were issued what was then the standard IDF infantry weapon, the Israeli-made Galil rifle.
Darkness is frightening. It is the realm of uncertainty, with everything enveloped in a state of unified oblivion. The world we call "real" -- based on substance, physical existence and visible actuality -- is nullified by the blackness of night.
Judaism is a simple religion containing many complexities. No one could realistically hope to understand everything. It is important to question and to learn. But when we don't understand something, or don't agree with something, we need to remember that it doesn't give us license to not follow halacha or to not keep the Torah.
On the day our wedding was to have been, I was intensely aware of the time when we would have been standing under the chuppah, without seeing a clock or watch. My breath stopped, and I stood still, feeling the growing ache in my chest. I spent the day alone, and I cried. And I thought about cosmic meaning and why this was happening to me. And then everything was fine.
The High Holidays make your mind wander -- wander around the people around you and no longer around you.
"There was level of musical sophistication that goes with the kind of music you can play on the mandolin, and my intention was to start a new acoustic-fusion thing, with an emphasis on string and wind instruments," said Eric Stein, who went on to form Beyond the Pale, a klezmer-fusion band.
Well, no. Tu b'Shevat is an annual celebration for a reason.
Thousands of years ago, our rabbis knew that we would need to be reminded on a regular basis about how important trees are to our lives. We must always remember to protect, plant and care for more of them.
What do we have in Judaism that comes closest to a military parade? It occurred to me that every Sabbath morning, when we take out the Torah and walk around the sanctuary, we are actually simulating a military parade. No guns, not tanks, no jet planes to impress onlookers.
Of all the Jew joints, in all the towns, in all the world, I walk into his. The artist formerly known as Jake didn't just go to my high school. I was a freshman cheerleader in a sophomore geometry class and Jake was the hot football player who sat next to me.
I reminded Mom of her move to Los Angeles three years ago, and her life at a San Fernando Valley board and care.
She sighed and said, "Ellie, I'm losing my marbles."
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.
Determination is a virtue. Remember how determined we were in Vietnam?
Michael Berenbaum, a first-rate scholar and writer, who was founding director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., has produced, in effect, a traveling museum, or in barely more than two score pages, a traveling museum exhibit.
Memory is a multibillion-dollar enterprise these days. I am personally on my fourth PDA and angling for a fifth even sleeker, more efficient model.
For the Kids
The fact that Tisha B'Av falls in the summer is not just a stroke of bad luck. God deliberately destroyed the Temple in the summer. Summer, when the world is outside their closed homes and offices, taking vacations, having fun.
Al Carmines' lush score provides the backdrop for "The Song of Songs," now at the Fountain, in which five dancers pair off while singers chant biblical text. Its creators hope to convey the essence of the ancient poetry, which describes God's love for the Israelites as the passion between a man and a woman.
Judaism's moral imagination describes that King Ahashuerus was not able to sleep because of all that was going on around him: Esther was involved with planning and preparing her next feast; Haman was busy building gallows; Mordecai was upset, praying and wearing sackcloth.
If you "Treat Me Nice," "Save the Last Dance for Me," or once were "A Teenager in Love," chances are you are old enough to remember the
early, "innocent" years of rock 'n' roll music.
For a man who was rational, and with whom one could discuss cause and effect and the logic of doing things one way (the non-inflammatory way) as opposed to another, it always amazed me how he would invariably choose the wrong path.
At Yom HaShoah commemorations across Los Angeles, the Jewish community and friends looked to the past to remember and to the present to engage.
The Citywide Youth Commemoration at Wilshire Boulevard Temple on April 9 was a by-the-kid, for-the-kids affair, with elementary, middle and high school students presenting artistic renditions of their understanding of the Holocaust. Through song, story, poetry and the testimony of survivors they had interviewed, students from 15 Los Angeles area schools ensured that the memory of what happened will be passed on to the next generation. After the Emanuel Academy sang the Yiddish "Partisan's Song," students from Fulton Middle School recounted a survivor's testimony, "Seven Days Locked Up," in English and Spanish.
This coming Tuesday, we will observe Yom HaShoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day.