Nov 20

A ‘light’ for Israel

Dear friends,

The news that overwhelms us in the media about the terrorist attacks in Israel saddens me in a myriad of ways. It is hard to withhold my tears over the dead in Jerusalem, and like my fellow Jews across the world, I mourn for the victims of the latest attacks across the whole country.

Less than a year ago I lived in Israel for a while, and walked through the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem daily. I felt safe, and had the feeling that we finally could see a glimpse of a new era for Israel – a place where Jews can live in safety, secure with their neighbours of all creeds. And now? Once again, our friends in Israel are filled with fear when they go out in public. Once again, words have become deadly weapons, as those around us use them to call for violence. Holy sites, places that should actually be filled with peace and security, have become places of grief and terror.
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Nov 13

Parashat Chayei Sarah: Death is not the end

When someone we love passes away, we experience deep sorrow and grief. We miss that person’s presence and caring. We miss the support and all that we shared. Jewish mourning rituals and customs are meant to help us cope, to face the loss realistically, and to find comfort. Jewish tradition helps us to understand that “death is not the end” but rather that our loved ones continue to live in our memory and keep influencing the ones left behind.

In this regard, this week’s Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, provides us with a very important tool. While Chayei Sarah may be translated as “Sarah’s lifetime,” our parashah actually deals with Sarah’s death, how Abraham dealt with it, and how life continued for her family after this big break, just before Yitzchak and Rivka start their own new family.
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Nov 07

Lech Lecha: Every person has a name

Lechol ish yesh shem
shenatan lo elohim
venatnu lo aviv ve’imo.

Every person has a name
which God gave him
and which his father and mother gave him

(by Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky (1914-1984))

For all of us, our name is an important and delicate gift, we got from our parents. Not only does a name contribute to our identity, it also reflect religious, spiritual, traditional, and emotional dimensions, our parents had in mind, while choosing our name. Weiterlesen »

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Okt 26

Parashat Noach: The rainbow brings together, and is creating a whole

Parashat Noach tells the story of God’s decision to destroy the earth with a flood because of the corruption and wickedness found in the world. Only Noach – the only righteous man on earth – his family, and a pair of every kind of creature on earth were to survive. Noach was told to build a large boat, the Ark, sufficient in size to accommodate the family and all the creatures. After the flood, those aboard the Ark started a new life on earth all over again, and God promised to Noach that never again a flood would be sent to destroy the entire earth.

Having saved Noach and his family, God enters into a new covenant with humanity. This includes the prohibition against eating live flesh (Genesis 9:4), the law against shedding another person’s blood (Genesis 9:6) and the instruction to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:7). The rainbow is a reminder of the covenant which God entered into with Noach, not just for us, but also for God, who will see the rainbow: ‘And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh’ (Genesis 9:15).
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Okt 10

Pessach and Sukkoth, two sides of the same coin

Chapter 23 of the Book of Leviticus outlines two mitzvot associated with the festival of Sukkoth. In verse 40 it says

“On the first day [of the festival] you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook…..”.

These are the four species of vegetation that we today know as the etrog, lulav, myrtle and willow. The Rabbis taught that we hold the four species together, and wave them in all of the directions of the compass, as well as upwards and downwards. In this way, we mobilize the winds that blow from all directions to bring rain to Israel for the new season of sowing and harvest.

In Leviticus 23: 42-43 we read,

“He shall live in booths [Sukkoth] seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt…..”.

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