Rethinking the Exodus Story

A Curmudgeonly, Skeptical Look by Bennett Muraskin   THE PASSOVER HAGODE celebrates the liberation of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt, but provides few details. Its source document is the Book of Exodus — which on this holiday deserves a closer look. Because Pharaoh fears that the burgeoning Israelite population will become a threat to his rule, he […]

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The Horse in Jewish Religious Text

by A.D. Paul   THE TORAH’s attitude to horses reveals a range of perspectives, based on the different experiences of the ancient Jewish people. Unlike the pig and the dog, which are not only forbidden as food but are widely scorned throughout the Torah, the horse, also forbidden as a food, often symbolizes great strength and courage, as […]

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Humanistic Sources of Jewish Law

A TORAH COMMENTARY by David Micah Greenberg   THE REVELATION at Sinai is the subject of the approaching Torah portion, Yitro (“Jethro,” Exodus 18:1-20:23, read in synagogue on February 3rd this year). But the book starts with the story of Jethro, a priest of Midian and Moses’ father-in-law from his years of exile in that land, who […]

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“One Less Lonely Girl,” A Story

by Susan Segal   BAR/BAT MITZVAH D’VAR TORAH GUIDELINES. PLEASE FILL THIS FORM OUT IN FULL, AND YOUR SPEECH WILL PRACTICALLY WRITE ITSELF. NAME: Sadie Sutherland TORAH PORTION: Balak, Numbers 22:2–25:9 1. Remember to begin and end with the traditional greeting, “Shabbat Shalom.” Explain for your non-Jewish guests that it means “good or peaceful Sabbath.” Briefly summarize […]

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MIDRASH: The Stories We Tell

WHY THE TORAH REMAINS AN OPEN BOOK by Reba Carmel   Moses received the Torah at Sinai and he transmitted it to Joshua,  and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly . . . [who] said three maxims: Be measured […]

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Martin Luther King Is My Rabbi

by Rabbi Jonathan Kligler From the online newsletter and Torah commentary of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation   VA’YAVO MOSHE V’AHARON el Par’oh va’yomru eilav, “Ko amar YHVH, Elohei ha’Ivrim: ad matai may’anta lay’anot mipanai? shalach ami vaya’avduni!” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Source of Life, the […]

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October 11: Jews of Aleppo

A massive earthquake, one of the most destructive in history, struck Aleppo in northern Syria on this date in 1138, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths in a region already suffering through ongoing wars between Christian Crusader and Muslim forces. Aleppo had one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities; Jewish tradition dates it to […]

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Going Solo for the Autumn Holidays

Text and Illustrations by Lawrence Bush From the Autumn 2016 issue of Jewish Currents This is the first of a series of essays about the Jewish calendar and life-cycle observances, created as part of our new Schappes Center for Cultural Jewish Life, a school-without-walls for families interested in non-theistic participation in Jewish holidays, rituals, and […]

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July 17: Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Louis Jacobs, the founder of Conservative Judaism (Masorti or “traditional” Judaism) in the United Kingdom and author of over fifty Judaic books, was born in Manchester on this date in 1920. Ordained as an Orthodox rabbi, Jacobs was haunted by the dissonance between Biblical scholarship and Orthodox faith in the Torah text and spent much […]

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