Stop the Cycle of Violence

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Emor, contains a well-known verse allocating punishment on the level of “fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” This verse has been mistakenly associated with the brutal image of torn-off limbs, ripped-out eyes and a lot of blood. Luckily, as Jewish people, we do not generally believe that… Read More

Community’s Strength Lies in Ability to Reach Out

Who are we as individuals? Who are we as a people? What makes us who we are? The answer is simple: our choices and our actions. As a civil society, we need rules to function. You can’t have a community with people doing whatever they want without any guidelines. This Shabbat, we read Parshat Kedoshim,… Read More

Freedom Doesn’t End With Exodus

I recently participated in an evening of learning at a local Lutheran church where a local imam and I were asked to discuss the ways our respective faiths were most often misunderstood. This church and their pastor sought to spend time during Lent learning about other faiths in order to help strengthen their own faith…. Read More

Parshat Acharei Mot A Meaningful Life Requires Dedication

It is fascinating that our Bible commands us to perform the laws and statutes of the Lord and then it adds “and he shall live by them.” Would any moral individual think to perform laws that could cause them to die? Our Sages use this seemingly superfluous phrase to teach a most important lesson, one… Read More

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

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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