Restoring Ourselves, Our World

“When the heart cries, only God hears/The pain rises out of the soul/Hear Israel my God/now I am alone/Make me strong/make it that I won’t be afraid.” Parshat Metzora is about purity and impurity. It is about skin disease, rashes and eruptions on the body, clothing and dwelling. These are not the most pleasant of… Read More

More Than Words

Although leprosy isn’t a concern today, the timelessness of this biblical ailment’s message deeply resonates. After explaining the purity rituals of childbirth, Parshat Tazria dives into a lengthy and detailed description of the skin-condition tzara’at, commonly known today as leprosy. Essentially, if people developed white discolorations on their skin, they were brought to the kohain…. Read More

Rachel’s True Performance

My name is Goldie, I’m in the sixth grade, and I can’t wait to tell you my story. Ever since second grade, my best friend, Rachel, and I wanted to be in the Shara Girl’s Choir. Everyone knows that only sixth-graders and above are allowed to try out, and only the good singers make it… Read More

Lifting of Hands as One

2013-axler-craig

Among the events recorded in this week’s Torah portion is the initiation of sacrifice, the first communal worship of the ancient Israelites wandering in the wilderness. Having been prepared both in procedure and in all the necessary elements, Aaron and his sons are consecrated as kohanim — priests — with the offering of the first… Read More

Love and Inclusivity

This weekend is packed with mitzvahs. On Shabbos, we read Parshat Tzav and Parshat Zachor. On Saturday night, we read Megilat Esther and then again on Sunday, together with all the other mitzvahs of Purim — gifts to friends, charity to the poor and a Purim banquet. There’s a wonderful theme running through all of… Read More

Drawing Closer to the Almighty

This week we begin the third book of the Torah, Vayikra, which means “God called.” This book of the Torah talks about how our ancestors praised God by sacrificing animals in the Temple. I believe that the Israelites brought sacrifices because they thought they needed to express thanks to God, thanks for everything that He… Read More

Appreciating the Journey

2013-axler-craig

“For over the Tabernacle a cloud of the Lord rested by day, and fire would appear in it by night, in the view of all the House of Israel throughout all their journeys.” With these words, we conclude reading the Book of Exodus this Shabbat. A book of the Torah that begins in slavery, walled… Read More

‘Daniel From Texas’

I sat at my desk munching a sugar-coated doughnut. Mr. Heller, our sixth-grade math teacher, handed our class treats for the 100th Day of School celebration. As I neatly chewed mine, I could see the new kid’s mouth twisting left and right as some powder covered his freckled face and plaid shirt. My friends and… Read More

Finding Rest Amid Creation

010314_bergman_nitzan_rabbi

We rest on the Shabbos because G-d rested on Shabbos. What does this mean? When G-d created the world he created it ex nihilo, something out of nothing. Before creation there was absolutely nothing besides G-d. With each of the 10 statements of creation (“Let there be light,” etc.), G-d brought our world and everything… Read More

The Value of Faith and Hope

This week’s haftorah echoes some of the themes found in the parshah of Ki Tissa. Its setting is in Northern Israel at a time after the 12 Tribes had been split into two kingdoms. What intrigues me in the reading is when Elijah strongly opposes the beliefs of Ahab and Jezebel, the king and queen… Read More