It is not our place to judge the neighbors of Ariel Castro. We don’t know enough about the particular circumstances of those who lived near this man who allegedly held three women hostage for a decade to be able to judge whether things could have been different had they been paying closer attention
The book of Bamidbar, literally “in the desert” or “in the wilderness,” is a hard book to read. Over and over, plagues break out and thousands are killed. The reason, we are told, is a pronounced lack of faith in God. I found the repeated spilling of Israelite blood difficult, to say the least, until Bible scholar Adriane Leveen put it into mythic perspective for me.
I have spent much of my adult life working to bring Jews and Christians together. In particular, I have tried to explain to fellow Jews that traditional Christians are our best friends in the world today.
Shavuot celebrates the receiving of the Ten Commandments and the arrival of the spring harvest. But, for food lovers, it is noted for the array of dairy foods that are served — delicious combinations of cheese, sour cream, milk and eggs. Also in abundance are “stuffed” foods, such as blintzes with cheese fillings.
There are a variety of options for how to begin the process, but all involve study with a rabbi. Some people study with an individual rabbi for a period of time, and other people enroll in group classes designed especially for converts.
This week’s double Torah portion, Behar-Bechukotai, begins: “And the Lord spoke to Moshe at Mount Sinai” (Leviticus 25:1). At the end of our reading, we conclude the Torah’s third book with: “These are the mitzvot that the Lord commanded Moshe for the children of Israel at Mount Sinai” (Leviticus 27:34).
Natan Sharansky’s proposal to reduce tensions at the Western Wall has lost support from Orthodox and non-Orthodox leaders.
Criticism is the oxygen of journalism. Here at the Jewish Journal, we will criticize anything that we believe deserves criticism, including religion.
I was meeting with an upcoming bat mitzvah girl the other day and talking with her about the Torah (what else?). I pointed out all the books that surrounded us in my study and mentioned that as someone who has published five books myself, how thrilled I would be if people were still reading even one of my books 20 years from now.
Everyone has their moments of failure, when they transgress.
For the last couple of years - and especially the last couple of days - my Jewish friends all over the world have expressed their concern over whether anti-Semitism is on the rise in Turkey. First of all Turkey has a population over 70 million.
Rabbi David Hartman has gone to his eternal rest, but not before he made a monumental contribution to Jewish life and a significant contribution to Jewish thought.
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.
In these dark, cold days of winter, it’s so easy to lose hope. Add to this the hardships of loss, with which life seems intent on liberally sprinkling our lives, and we get something akin to paralysis. We may feel like a tree in winter, shorn of its leaves, standing still like death. Will spring ever come, and will we survive until it does?
On Feb. 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, tragically taking the lives of all seven astronauts on board. Among those who never returned home were Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon — Israel’s first and only astronaut — and a miniature Torah dating back to the Holocaust.
A Memphis yeshiva’s Shabbat retreat was disrupted when a hotel security guard was arrested for vandalizing Torah scrolls and other property belonging to the school.
There is an old midrash to explain how Moshe discovered his Jewish identity and woke up to his calling as a teacher and prophet. Yocheved, Moshe’s mother, used to sing him lullabies and feed him familiar foods.
Nowhere in the Torah does it say: “And on the seventh day, God played soccer.” Which is too bad for observant Jewish youths who would love to take advantage of the many local sports leagues that play on Saturdays.
It might be difficult for anyone in the 21st century to relate to the Leviticus story of how God killed Aaron’s sons for burning “strange fire” in His honor. It’s even tougher when you’re 12.
With his brother Benjamin’s fate hanging in the balance, Yehuda “draws close” to the Egyptian viceroy (whose true identity is not yet known). Yehuda had sworn to his father he would return Benjamin safely to Canaan, but now Benjamin is facing confinement and servitude in Egypt.
There are a good many details about the Joseph narratives that elude ready explanation. We absorb them readily and ignore them just as readily.
The senior rabbi of the Lithuanian haredi Orthodox, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, said yeshiva students should not agree to enlist in National Service.
In our age of Facebook and Twitter, we know all too well how fast words can spread. When I was a kid, we played the game telephone, passing a word or phrase around the circle by whispering it into each other’s ear, knowing that by the time it went all the way around, it would probably be transformed into something completely different — that was funny!
Jacob returns to Canaan, where 20 years earlier he fled his brother Esau’s wrath after stealing his birthright. But time does not seem to have healed the wound.
Members of a Kansas City synagogue have come to the aid of Jewish Hurricane Sandy victims in Long Island by donating a Torah scroll to a synagogue that lost four.
The arrest of Israeli feminist Anat Hoffman at the Western Wall last month sent ripples of alarm across the Jewish world, and leaders in Los Angeles will address their concerns about religious pluralism in Israel to Los Angeles’ Israeli Consul General in a public forum Nov. 26 at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills.
One of the most frequent questions Christians ask me as a Jew is, “Why aren’t Jews committed to protecting the unborn?”
Jewish tradition has always championed the idea that justice is a fundamental necessity. When the Torah commands us, “Justice, justice shall you pursue,” the repetition is to teach that not only we must have just ends, our means to those ends must be equally just.
My road from twice-a-year Jew to Torah-study groupie took 40 years. With the heady days of the High Holy Days, Sukkot and Simchat Torah still fresh in my mind, it’s worth examining how I got here. During my youth, my family and I attended synagogue only during the High Holy Days. Even then, like most adolescents, no matter the Jewish preschool, Jewish summer camp, bat mitzvah or confirmation, the rabbi’s sermon was my cue to flee the sanctuary with my sister to find the other kids in the parking lot tearing into a purloined challah snatched from the synagogue kitchen.
Rabbi Menachem Youlus, once dubbed the “Jewish Indiana Jones” for his remarkable tales of rescuing Holocaust-era Torah scrolls, was sentenced to more than four years in prison for fraud.
The best parts of the Noah story are not found in the Torah verses, but in the stories we weave between them. Classical midrashim and the movie “Evan Almighty” help us answer such questions as: How did all those animals get along on the ark, and who cleaned up after them? How did Noah build such a humongous vessel all by himself?