WRJ's Blog

This week we read a double parashah.  Usually Chukat and Balak are read separately, however, on certain years they are read together when the second day of Shavuot falls on the Sabbath in the Diaspora.  After this happens, subsequent Torah readings between Israel and the Diaspora are then in sync.

Parashah Chukat begins with the laws of the Red Heifer, a ritual to purify those who have been in contact with a corpse.  After 40 years of journeying through the desert, the people of Israel arrive in the wilderness at Zin.  Miriam dies and is buried there.  The people complain they have...

Read More

In this week’s Torah portion, Korach (Number 16:1 – 18:32) we read a disturbing story of two seemingly simultaneous rebellions, one against Aaron’s priestly leadership, led by Korach, and the other against Moses’ leadership, led by Dathan and Abiram.

As I read the commentary in The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, I was fascinated by Rabbi Rachel Cowan’s Contemporary Reflection, in which she raises several important points: the first is to remind us of Moses’ humility, the second is to remind us that although Korach’s punishment for his rebellion is death, his descendants lived, and...

Read More

Parshat Shelach L’cha tells the familiar story of the 12 spies whom Moses sent to scout out the land. When they returned all 12 agreed that the land was exceedingly good, but 10 thought the obstacles to occupying the land were insurmountable. They saw the inhabitants as unbeatable giants, to whom they appeared “like grasshoppers.” Only Joshua and Caleb felt that with G-d on the Israelites’ side, they could win. The Israelites themselves listened to the 10 naysayers, and as a result, G-d condemned them to wander for 38 more years and decreed that their generation would not enter the land. ...

Read More

Judaism offers each of us a unique lens to view the world; I am especially grateful for the way in which my understanding and perception of light has been transformed by our tradition. Just as light seeps through every crack and crevice into the world, light motifs are prominent in many of our sacred texts and the commentaries on them we hold in such high esteem. In this weeks’ Torah portion, Moses, Aaron and therefore all of us are provided with very specific instructions as to how to make the lampstand of the Mishkan and how to kindle the lights. To emphasize the importance of these...

Read More

From 2013 until 2017, I was honored to serve as a political appointee in President Obama’s White House. In my role in the Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity, I entered the White House gates each morning with the responsibility of expanding and protecting the civil rights of all people in our country. On any given day, we could have been working to coordinate better services for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, expand access to voting rights, reform the criminal justice system, and close the pay gap for women--just to name a few.   In 2019 I,... Read More