This blog has moved to my domain, http://amygreenbaum.com, please visit, read, comment and more.
This blog has moved to my domain, http://amygreenbaum.com, please visit, read, comment and more.
Shavuah tov – a good new week to you and yours. I hope that you had a good Shabbat.
I am beginning my week by making some blog changes that I’ve been considering for some time. You may have noticed that I edited the title of this blog from “Thoughts from a Rabbi” to “Amelah’s Blog (Thoughts from a Rabbi.)” I’ve done as part of the transition from keeping this blog on WordPress.com to making it part of my personal website. I have also added my twitter feed in the side bar. The site will continue to evolve over the coming days and I welcome feedback.
I hope that this week will be a good one for you and yours.
Ima on the Bima posted this week’s Haveil Havalim “Catchy Title Goes Here” – a great collection of blog posts written over the past week. Thanks Phyllis and shavuah tov to all.
Once again Memorial Day has come to the United States. For many people the day corresponds to the beginning of summer, bbq, sales, a day off from work and getting together with friends. Memorial Day includes these things for many people, but we need to remember the original (and I say most important) reason for the holiday – to remember the members of the armed services who gave their lives in battle, in conflict, or in training.
Regardless of politics and political opinion about the wars, actions and conflicts in which the United States has engaged. we can support the men and women who serve in the armed forces.
Many years ago, I had the privilege of being in the US Navy Chaplain Candidate program. I became part of the Naval Reserves. I trained and served with men and women of passion, patriotism and devotion to call. Rabbis have served in the US military services since the Civil War, and Jews have served since the Revolutionary War. I am no longer in the Navy, yet I remain forever changed by the short time I served.
On this Memorial Day, let us remember all members of the armed forces of all faiths who sacrificed their lives. We think especially of the Jewish soldiers, airmen, marines, sailors, coast guardsmen who have died. A list of those who have died since September 11, 2001 is provided by the Jewish Welfare Board Chaplain’s Council.
Organizations Supporting and about Jews in the Military
Jewish War Veterans
Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council
National Museum of American Jewish Military History
Support Our Soldiers – send packages and encouragement to Jewish service members. (An effort of the Jewish War Veterans.)
The Brave – a listserv for families with members in the military
Links to some other posts on Jews in the military
I pray that the day will come soon when no country will need to send its children into battle and when armies are unnecessary, for then the words of the prophets will be evident all around – “Nation will not lift up sword against nation and they will not make war anymore. All will sit under their vines and fig trees and none will be afraid.”
I have long been a fan of the NBC television program Law & Order. I’ve watched the original and most of the spin-offs (especially SVU and Criminal Intent). The end of the original program may have been inevitable, but it is sad none the less. Heeb Magazine wrote up some of the Greatest Jewish Moments on Law and Order. Episodes often focus on issues of justice, fairness and the need to care for the less fortunate in society – key Jewish values. Perhaps in that way many shows have had Jewish themes. I’ll have to be satisfied with SVU, Criminal Intent and re-runs.
As I type this blog, we enter the final hours before the onset of Shavuot. In the hours to come Jews around the world will celebrate receiving the written and oral Torahs thousands of years ago on Sinai. The revelation continues to this day, as each generation makes the decision to accept, wrestle with, engage with and embrace Torah.
Throughout time we have studied and learned Torah with the tools at hand – our minds, our bodies, scrolls, books, computer screens and social media. Over the past 24 hours Jews throughout the world have tweeted about Torah. Read some of the tweets by clicking this link which searches for Torah related tweets.
May your celebration be sweet and filled with the miracles of Sinai.
A common practice when Jews meet one another is to play “Jewish geography,” a process in which we find people we know in common. On the face this may seem like a Jewish version of 6 degrees of separation, but it goes deeper. It is a means of finding connection. The game often succeeds, but even when it doesn’t we sometimes have the feeling that we have met before. When we cannot figure out how we know one another, we say that we saw each other at Sinai.
Jewish tradition teaches that all Jews throughout time stood at Sinai thousands of years ago and received the Torah. Tomorrow night we begin celebrating Shavuot, the day G-d gave the Torah to our people. Each of us stood there and experienced this great gift . In remembrance of the gift of Torah (and the teaching that our people overslept the morning we received it) we will study all night tomorrow night.
I invite you to think about the place of Torah in your life. Perhaps Torah resonates in ideas, in family, in friends, in your work, in your life decisions, in your passion to change the world or in your religious practice. Where is Torah today and where might it be tomorrow or the next day?
Tomorrow night, wherever you are, I look forward to seeing you at Sinai.
Happy חנוכה (or Hanukkah or Hanukah or Chanukah or Khanukah). I hope that this festival of lights is illuminated with joy, hope, health, love and inspiration for you and your entire family.
ImaBima has posted this week’s Haveil Havalim, the NaBloPoMo edition.
Check it out for blog posts on the following topics:
Funny Things…good to start with a laugh
Israel and the Jewish World
Judaism and Torah
…read Haveil Havalim, the NaBloPoMo edition and enjoy!
Today I finished reading the third in Maggie Anton’s series Rashi’s Daughters. The series of three historical fiction weave the lives of our ancestors in 11th century France with the study of Talmud and the incredible lives of Rashi, his three daughters, his sons-in-law, grandchildren and community. The popular volumes read accurately to me considering that outside of Rashi’s writings and responsa of the time we have little documentation of life in Troyes, France at that time.
If you haven’t read them, I encourage you to visit your local library or bookstore, open one of the volumes and start reading. I imagine that you will end up taking the book with you.
Maggie Anton is not the only contemporary author writing about Rashi. Elie Wiesel recently wrote a mini-bibliography about Rashi which has gotten good reviews. You can read Maggie Anton’s review on the Mixed Multitudes blog (from My Jewish Learning).
Have you read the books by Anton or Wiesel? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Read and enjoy!
How well do you know the maps of the Middle East, North Africa, and the “Stans?” Try your hand at this online map quiz called Rethinking Schools.
(Quick follow-up to my last post on the Pope’s visit:)
Here is the text of the beautiful prayer he placed in the Western Wall (courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs). View the prayer as well as a photograph of its placement in the wall.
Written prayer by Pope Benedict XVI
God of all the ages,
on my visit to Jerusalem, the “City of Peace”,
spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike,
I bring before you the joys, the hopes and the aspirations,
the trials, the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the world.
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft;
send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East,
upon the entire human family;
stir the hearts of all who call upon your name,
to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion.
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him!” (Lam 3:25)
Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage visit to Israel is creating quite a bit of press coverage. Unlike Pope John Paul II visit a few years ago, Benedict XVI seems to be on a personal/church/religious mission rather than on a mission of interfaith understanding, bridge building and politics.
Many interesting stories accompany his visit:
Trembling Before the Pope (the story of the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, and his view of Catholics in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip)
A Muslim cleric and head of the Palestinian Sharia court, Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, gave an unscheduled speech today at an interfaith gathering attended by the Pope. Once the Pope heard a translation of the Sheikh’s remarks he walked out, perhaps fulfilling one of Patriarch Twal’s concerns. Read another take on this story on CNN.
I hope that the Pope’s visit leads to greater respect, understanding and peace between peoples and a willingness of all to turn away from hate and intollerance.
I love Passover. I enjoy the story, the symbols, the rituals of the seder, the joy of celebrating with friends and family and the food. Keeping Passover all week tethers me to our tradition and to the millions of Jews throughout the ages who have observed the restrictions of Passover.
One of the fun things is to find new recipes to try. Our friend google just sent me to the following sites. I look forward to searching them for vegetarian recipes to try myself. I hope the links add to the joy of your Passover.
Jewish Veg (a site with recipes and many resources about Judaism and vegetarianism)
Kosher Cooking Passover recipes
All Recipes – Passover Recipes
Recipe Zaar Passover Recipes
Have a zissen Pesach!
UPDATE: Quinoa is kosher for Passover!! Read about quinoa’s kosher status here.
Yes, Purim was weeks ago. However, I just came across Rabbi Paul Kipnes’ blog post where he described friending G-d on Facebook. (Thanks to the librarian’s blog at HUC called Needle in the Bookstacks). Want to Friend G-d on Facebook? Go here.
What is the place for politics in shul? Where should the line be drawn for rabbis, cantors and educators?
IRS regulations specify that a clergyperson may not preach a sermon supporting (or demonizing) a particular candidate if the house of worship wishes to have tax exempt status. This rule draws a clear line, but what about other communication? What about conversations at kiddush, oneg or in the parking lot? Is it okay for the rabbi to send emails to congregants about partisan political issues?
I ask this question at this time because of the presence of politics in Shul JewCrew where I attend. A rabbi of Shul JewCrew refrained from formal political pulpit sermons during last fall’s election season. The rabbi sends congregants negative, partisan emails, invitations to political events on Facebook (JewCrew city’s “tea party”), discussions at oneg, and during private conversations.
For months now, I have felt that my views are unwelcome. I worry that I have to either defend my views or plan to extricate myself from a conversation or not go to shul. Why should an uncomfortable political conversation from the rabbi keep me from feeling comfortable at shul? The thought that I am refraining from going to my current spiritual “home” because of the rabbi’s politics makes me mad. US politics is not the rabbi’s role (IMHO). This rabbi does not work for a political organization, does not see his/her job as primarily educating representatives….
When I feel denigrated by the rabbi for my political view, how can I feel comfortable going to the rabbi for much more difficult or sensitive issues in my personal life?
A rabbi in another city preached from the pulpit many times during last election season and made the congregants who did not agree with him/her so uncomfortable that they stopped going to shul – and they themselves are a rabbinic family!
Please know that while I personally have a political opinion, I have a problem with rabbis pushing their views on either side (in American politics) in their congregations. The examples above are of each – a partisan republican rabbi and a partisan democratic rabbi.
What do you think? Is this happening elsewhere or only in the two examples above?