A Baal Teshuvah of Whom You Have Never Heard

It’s the season for repentance, so a few words about a Jew who returned to Judaism.  Sir Waldemar Mordechai Wolff Haffkine (1860 – 1930) worked with Louis Pasteur and was the leading pioneer of vaccinations in India.  In fact, in Mumbai today there still exists the Haffkine Institute for vaccine research.  Late in his life, Haffkine become a deeply religious man.   He returned to the observance of the mitzvos and ...

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Oil Change

I just returned from taking my car for an oil change and safety inspection.  We do not only regularly inspect our cars, but, as someone who frequently flies, I happen to know (and am very happy that) the FAA inspects every plane on a regular basis. We do inspections all the time; cars, airplanes, fire detectors and computers. All our transportation methods and many other complex technologies get inspected regularly. One ...

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Shofaros of History

As the baal tokeah for Gateways on Rosh Hashanah I bought a new shofar two years ago.  It had caught my eye at the Judaica store: it was not polished beautifully, it had a rustic, earthy look to it, but it had a beautiful sound.  I removed the numerous layers of price stickers and found underneath a certification from the Beit Din of Gush Katif. This shofar, a reminder of ...

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To Be or Not to Be?

We are just beginning the month of Ellul, the month of preparation for the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShana and also for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  It is customary for Ashkenazim (Jews of European origin) to blow the shofar every day of the month of Ellul at synagogue after the morning service.  Sephardic Jews (of Middle Eastern and North African origin) begin special prayers known as Selichot, at ...

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