WRJ's Blog

Our parashah this week, Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19), is a compendium of laws, laws, and more laws that Moses lays out, sometimes (to me, at least) in a seemingly random and occasionally repetitive order.

I have to be honest. Some of the laws are difficult to read and relate to in our current era. For example, “a woman must not put on man’s apparel, nor shall a man wear woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Eternal your God.”

Moreover, there’s one for appropriate behavior for when you capture your enemy’s beautiful woman, whom you...

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This past November, our beloved President Rabbi Aaron Panken (of blessed memory) ordained the 100th Israeli Reform/Progressive rabbi. It would be his last ordination. No one was more excited than he was to celebrate this milestone. The Israeli rabbinic program that started so small in the late 1970’s and grew over time is the program that launched and established what is now a thriving Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ).  Many of our graduates have spread all over Israel and indeed the Jewish world, establishing and serving congregations, founding key institutions, and...

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In this week’s Parashah Moses directs the Israelites to appoint judges to make decisions when there are disagreements. Moses further directs the Israelites to honor the decisions made by the judges with neither derision nor doubt.

How timely. 

Shof’tim comes at a time when our country is poised to have the United States president, with congressional approval, choose his second of the nine Supreme Court judges that serve on the highest court in the United States of America.

In considering what to write for my Dvar Torah, I read many works about Shof’tim which spoke...

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I have heard this expression countless times in my life, and it is incredibly fitting for URJ Camp Newman for summer 2018.

Last October, after many years in operation along Porter Creek Road in Sonoma County, a majority of Camp Newman’s buildings were engulfed in the Tubbs Fire. Quickly after the depth of devastation was made clear, the board and staff persevered to make sure that Summer of 2018 at Camp Newman would happen. Campers eagerly awaited the news of an alternate location. Finally, the announcement came via an email with a video...

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This week's Torah portion, Re'eh, begins by commanding us to “see,” to open our eyes and behold the world which has been set before us. At every moment, we can choose between blessing and curse. Each decision we make and each action we take has a consequence, an effect not only for ourselves, but also for everyone and everything around us. God sets before all of us – as a collective - the choice for blessing or curse. But it is up to each one of us - individually - to make decisions which fulfill God's commandments and align with our Reform Jewish values. Each of us personally must open...

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