WRJ's Blog

“Love people. Cook them tasty food.” - These are the words, on a bumper sticker, that hangs above my cookbooks. As I think about this week’s Torah portion, Emor, I consider why this saying resonates so much with me. I think about my Bubby who taught me how to bake cookies and I think about my mother who also taught me how to bake cookies. For both, the time spent in the kitchen with me was precious and the baked goods we created were an expression of nurturing those they loved.

From both my grandmother and mother, I learned how to follow a recipe’s rules, and with both women, I...

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This week’s Torah portion, K’doshim, meaning “holy ones,” opens with Adonai speaking to Moses saying, “Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy.’” I see this parashah as a blueprint for how we should conduct our lives and how we should treat people. But first we need to take stock of ourselves and our relationships to determine if our dealings with others are honest and honorable.

In this parashah we find many commandments which guide our daily lives, both individually and communally. We are commanded to revere our...

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Looking for someone to blame? Well, some would say you’ve come to the right Torah portion because this week, in Acharei Mot, we meet the scapegoat. But those people would have it wrong.

We think of the scapegoat as the person or group who gets blamed for something even when it was not their mistake, fault, or misdeed. They may have not even been involved, yet they are subjected to illogical antagonism. They may be different in some way, an outsider. If it’s a group, there may be generalizations about what “they” do, how “they” think.

Think about poor Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, who...

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The first 100 days of 2019 have included unprecedented efforts by states throughout the U.S. to ban or restrict reproductive rights.

While the overall number of anti-abortion legislation introduced in U.S. states thus far in 2019 is essentially the same as in 2018, the nature of this year’s bills is more harmful and restrictive than anything we’ve seen in recent history.

Prior to this year, the primary state-level attacks came in the form of targeted regulation of...

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Pesach, or Passover, is the festival of freedom. It commemorates the Israelites exodus from Egypt and their transition from slavery to freedom. We read the Haggadah, a written guide to the Passover seder. We learn why we eat unleavened bread. We eat symbolic foods like charoset, a mixture of nuts, apples, and wine which is made into a paste to symbolize the mortar of the bricks the Israelites made. The bitter herbs such as horseradish reminds us of the pain of slavery, and the saltwater symbolizes the tears of the slaves. We not only tell the story; we consume the story. We recite the ten...

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