In this past week's Torah portion, Parashat Beshellach, we read about the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites' escape from slavery, and the miraculous parting of the Sea of Reeds. We chant the Song of the Sea - the song of triumph and joy Moses, Miriam, and all the Israelites sing as they begin their march toward the Promised Land. As we know, there will be controversies along the way, as the Israelites struggle to become a nation. But for this moment in time, they celebrate their new freedom with great hope for their future. As I marched through the streets of downtown Walnut Creek this...Read More
Water is a precious natural resource – both life giving and life sustaining. Yet, in many parts of the world, water supplies are scarce or dwindling. What does water scarcity mean to us today and what does Torah tell us about how to mitigate this scarcity?
In B'shalach, Exodus 17:1-7, the Israelites experienced thirst in the wilderness and, turning to their leader, they challenged Moses, “Is the Eternal present among us or not?” Moses complained to God and God instructed Moses: Take your rod and “strike the rock...Read More
Over the course of the past several weeks I have been part of numerous conversations about the upcoming Women’s March. Should we endorse or condemn? Should we march or sit on the sidelines? Is it best to engage or should we boycott?
These conversations have taken place in multiple spaces - among progressive Jewish organizations, women’s organizations, Reform Movement leaders and, of course, among WRJ women. These have been vibrant, challenging, and heartfelt conversations and, as one might expect, we are not of one mind.
Why the ambivalence? The...Read More
Parshat Bo takes us to the dramatic final moments of the Exodus from Egypt. We experience the final three plagues - locusts, darkness, and the killing of the first-born, the Israelites celebrate the first Passover, and the terrified Egyptians send them on their way.
Towards the end of the parshah, we read God’s command to the Israelites, that after the Exodus they must redeem their firstborn sons. Since the Jewish firstborns were spared from the plague that killed the firstborn children of Egypt on the night of the Exodus, firstborns must be treated as “sacred” and thus redeemed....Read More
There are parts of the Torah that we don’t learn about in Sunday school. While I am proud that our beloved book is rich with moral teachings, instructing not to “hate [our] kinsfolk in [our] heart” (Leviticus 19:17-18); warning “not [to] subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless” (Deuteronomy 24:17); and imploring us to "speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy” (Proverbs 31:9), there are also some texts that condone violence. While there are hundreds of stories of our biblical ancestors to lift up and guide us to be better humans—to be hospitable and...Read More