On the first day of Shavuot, we read in Exodus 19 that God declares to the Israelites assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai:
“If you obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all the peoples…. you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation… the people answered as one, saying, ‘All that God has spoken we will do.’”
To this very day, before reading the Torah, we bless God “who chose us from among all the nations.”
Yet Jews have always been somewhat...Read More
Today's North American Reform synagogues have increasingly begun to rethink and attempt to reinvigorate the contemporary practice of bar and bat mitzvah, a practice that may transform Reform Judaism in general. In many ways, these conversations are reminiscent of the emergence of confirmation at the beginning of the 19th century, a significant part of a broad effort to re-envision Judaism's well known adolescent rites-de-passage in communities throughout...Read More
This week marks the start of a new book of Torah: the Book of Numbers. This week’s portion, B’midbar, or “In the Wilderness,” recounts the census-taking of entire Israelite community commanded of Moses by God. The Israelites are sorted by tribe and all men over the age of 20 are counted, as God commands, “head by head,” with special instructions for the Levites.
We learn that the Israelites total 603,550 men over the age of 20, excluding the Levite tribe. Not only does the census have practical sensibilities,...Read More
Campers and staff at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, a Reform Jewish summer camp near Boston, connect with Israel in a unique way: through science and technology, of course! Israel is an epicenter of exploration and innovation, from the massive solar fields in the Negev Desert to the high-tech processes used to start up companies such as the Waze navigation app. Israel is a part of many aspects of our camp programming, from our Israeli staff members to the featured "Israeli Invention of the Day."
As the...Read More
I often think about how fortunate I am to live in this period of time when social justice for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community is advancing at such a rapid pace.
I never felt this more profoundly than on April 28, when I stood outside the United States Supreme Court to demonstrate my support for marriage equality. Thanks also to a great deal of luck, I was even able to sit inside the chamber and listen to the oral arguments for a few brief minutes. As I walked into the courtroom I consciously called to mind LGBTQ heroes and righteous allies who...Read More
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