God Bless America

Abraham’s relationship with God was rooted in a covenant, an agreement between two parties, each having obligations toward the other.  Abraham and his descendants were obligated to practice circumcision, kindness and justice and to have faith in God.  God in turn promised that Abraham’s descendants would maintain a special relationship with Him.  They would be given the Land of Israel and would be a “blessing to all nations of the ...

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Shabbat of Peace

I did a lot of traveling over summer – I was in Canada, South Africa, South Korea and Japan.  It was incredibly helpful and convenient to my phone with me.  I was able to be in contact with the other people in the group with whom I was traveling; I was able to be in contact with my family, and the office.  I was able to book hotels and confirm ...

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Jews In Booths

Five days after the intensity of Yom Kippur, Sukkos, the festival of joy and happiness, begins.  This festival lasts eight days in Israel and nine days everywhere else.  The Torah describes the festival as follows: …On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkot, a seven-day period for God: On the first day shall be a sacred holyday when you shall not do any laborious work: On ...

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Is Fasting an Act of Suffering?

One of the best-known features of Yom Kippur -- sometimes the only thing people know about this day -- is the fact that we are forbidden to eat and drink. What is the meaning and purpose of these prohibitions on Yom Kippur? An anthropologist visiting a synagogue on Yom Kippur might think that since no one is eating or drinking for an entire 24-hour period, the congregants are all suffering terribly. ...

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To Be or Not to Be? The Question of Rosh Hashana

According to Jewish tradition, before God created the first human being, a debate took place in the heavenly court. When the Holy One blessed Be He came to create man, the ministering angels formed into groups, some saying that man should be created, some saying that he should not be created…[the angel of] Kindness voted to create man, because people would perform acts of kindness,[the angel of] Peace voted not to ...

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