Liberty for all: An Elusive Goal  Quick Comment: Parashat Behar (Leviticus 25:1-26:2)

Thank you for sharing this memory! Reblogged to help spread something that should not be lost.

Finding Ourselves In Biblical Narratives

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In vain I searched the  Internet for the words from Yitzhak Rabin seared into my memory but apparently forgotten by Google among his more famous speeches.

It was in July of 1974 when during his first term as Prime Minister Rabin addressed a joint session of congress and eloquently described learning the words on the Liberty Bell in their original Hebrew as a small child: “U’kratem dror ba-aretz l’chol yoshveha – Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all of its inhabitants (Leviticus 25: 10).”

Rabin pointed out that this cardinal foundation of both American and Israeli democracy comes form this week’s Torah portion.

 As recent events from Ferguson to Baltimore in the USA and the demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel attest, the United States at age 238 and Israel at age 67 both fall far short of that biblical goal.

Though neither country has yet…

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Sanctifying the Divine Name through Chocolate and Coffee: Thoughts for Fair Trade Shabbat

Rabbi Ed Bernstein

Fresh cocoa beans Fresh cocoa beans

In Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the popular film version Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka manufactures his product with the dedicated labor of the Oompa Loompas. They provide Willy Wonka with cheap labor to which his competitors don’t have access. In the backstory, they are paid only in cacao beans. In the book and the movie, the Oompa Loompas are endearing characters, even as their labor upon closer analysis appears to be exploited. It turns out that the Oompa Loompas are real. That is, the major corporations of the chocolate industry, as well as the coffee industry, often rely on child slave trafficking to produce much of the world’s supply of chocolate and coffee. These child slaves are not smiling, cuddly figures like the Oompa Loompas. They are subjected to great abuse. On this Shabbat, congregations across the country…

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Who Was Herzl?

This is a long piece, but well worth the time to read it. It’s the most penetrating writing about Theodor Herzl that I’ve seen anywhere.

joe wolfson

Theodor Herzl would have been 165 this week and this coincides with my first trip to Basel – of Zionist Congress fame – so I wanted to share this wonderful piece. For any local readers I also repost here a piece of mine published in Die Jüdische Allgemeine in German a number of years ago.

Who was Theodor Herzl? I think I first heard his name as a 9 year old on a Hanoah HaTzioni camp in a song about beards and Basel. And although his name is one of the most quoted in discussions about the Jewish 20th century – and rightly so – I’ve rarely heard or read much about the personality behind the vision. So it was a pleasure a few years ago to find a long first-hand description in ‘The World of Yesterday’, the memoir of the Austrian-Jewish writer Stefan Zweig. At the peak of his fame…

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Happy Birthday Israel

Walking Humbly. Seeking Justice. Living with Hope.

Tonight we begin the celebration of Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s 67th Independence Day.   Happy Birthday Israel! It was 67 years ago that the modern State of Israel was born. But it was really a rebirth of our ancient nation state, reborn after 2000 years!

The Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel reads: THE DECLARATION:

ERETZ-ISRAEL (the Land of Israel) was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.

 

After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.

 

Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove…

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#blogExodus 10: Join

Every seder is unique. This is a glimpse of a seder most of us will never have a chance to see, a seder aboard a US Navy vessel. This blog is a particular favorite of mine.

To the Nth

#blogExodus 5775 topics

My husband was kind enough to allow me to share the story of how he joined together with his Jewish community aboard the USS Enterprise despite the difficulties of deployment in the spring of 2011. I’ll turn it over to him for today’s post. Enjoy!


I knew before the deployment started that celebrating Passover would be a little challenging. But, like most things, it’s just a matter of finding the community and going for it. The Navy is very good about arranging to have rabbis come out to forward deployed areas for Jewish holidays. The only question that remained was whether to enjoy the holiday aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain or try to stay overnight on the Enterprise.

I made that call once I saw an old friend from Jewish Midshipman Club (JMC) aboard the ship. He was a submariner on a shore tour. But, since he was attached to the…

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King Bibi is Dead! Long Live King Bibi! (Or: why the winner will lose and the loser will win; a short primer on the upcoming Israeli election)

Reblogged on CoffeeShopRabbi.com…

Whether you agree politically with this writer or not, he does an excellent job of explaining the complexities of Israeli politics in general and this election in particular. It’s well worth your time: enjoy!

Unpublished In Tel-Aviv

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This coming Tuesday, Israel will vote and once the votes are counted, Isaac “Bougie” Herzog will ‘win’ the election, and Bibi Netanyahu will ‘lose’. And yet Bibi will be the next Prime Minister.

Shenkin, Tel-Aviv: "It's Us Or The Left/Only The Likud/Only Netanyahu" Shenkin, Tel-Aviv: “It’s Us Or The Left/Only The Likud/Only Netanyahu”

It isn’t an exaggeration to state that Bibi Netanyahu is the most hated man in the country right now. Posters everywhere (except those paid for by his party) vilify him by name and in no uncertain terms. An entire movement (Victory 2015) has sprung up with the sole purpose of toppling him. Everybody, of all political stripes, has a reason: the economic destruction of the Israeli middle class; the go-nowhere war with Gaza that ended in… well, nobody knows exactly; his calculated humiliation of Israel’s largest, most faithful and strongest ally; the secret funding of the settlements; the demonisation of the Israeli left; the attacks on the…

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The Blog’s New Clothes

We’re reading Parashat Tetzaveh this week, known to a friend of mine as the “Fashion Parashah.” In it we learn all about the priestly vestments that Aaron and his sons will wear.

My blog has been wearing the same outfit since 2010, through 618 posts. I woke up today and decided it was time for a new look. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but it is clean and readable and I think it will be friendlier for folks reading via tablet and smartphone. If anything about it is acutely uncomfortable for you, let me know. WordPress is a powerful platform, and I have options.