WRJ's Blog

Torah scroll


Why is my sister still kosher?

It never occurred to me to ask my sister, Toby, why she keeps a kosher home until I read this week’s Torah portion, Shemini, which discusses the strict dietary rules of kashrut. While we are taught all about these rules, it provides no explanation for the incredibly detailed and complicated rules of clean and unclean animals that are discussed in the portion– leaving it up to the interpretation of scholars over centuries. Was it for health reasons, or were the rules for the killing of animals more humanitarian? Or, was it meant to separate...

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From the time I was very little, I always knew I was Jewish, but I was not entirely sure what that meant. Our home was Kosher, not easily accomplished in Schenectady, New York in the 1940’s and 50’s. The two Kosher butchers, deli, and bakery were on the other side of our small city. Every Passover, my mother, grandmother, and aunts trekked to Albany for the closest Kosher-for-Passover necessities.  

There were strict rules about food. We had four sets of dishes, utensils, pots, and pans.  Very often, there was a knife, or some other utensil buried in the backyard because...

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Have you been sending book recommendations to friends? Are there books that you can't wait to talk about? Or do you want some social time to relax and think about something entirely separate from regular life? That’s what a book club is for! Whether virtual or in-person, book clubs now are continuing to do what book clubs do—give people a reason to come together to read and discuss, question, and enjoy books in ways that are largely the same as always, even if it’s over Zoom. 

So, the first thing to think about when starting a book club is WHY. Why do you want to start a book club...

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Parashat Yom Sh’vi-i Shel Pesach tells the story of the last days of Passover. The Jewish people witness the parting of the Sea of Reeds, and God delivers the Israelites from the Egyptians. In celebration of this miraculous rescue, Moses and the Israelites sing Adonai, a hymn to God’s power: “The Song of the Sea,” which includes “Mi Chamocha,” words that are incorporated into today’s daily prayer service. Then Miriam the Prophetess, Moses and Aaron’s sister, picked up a timbrel, and she leads the women in song and dance. 

Miriam is not a Prophetess in the literal sense of...

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