Holding God, Our Tradition, and One Another Close

Holding God, Our Tradition, and One Another Close

Feb 4, 2022 By Jacob Blumenthal | Commentary | Terumah

As a leader in the Conservative-Masorti Movement, I see my own ambivalence around the use of technology on Shabbat and to form minyanim shared among many communities, clergy, and synagogue leaders. How should we position ourselves? Should the new opportunities provided by these technologies lead the way? Should we temper our enthusiasm?  Should we heed Abraham Joshua Heschel’s call to experience Shabbat “independent of technical civilization” and trust in our inherited traditions to hold us together (The Sabbath, 28)? 

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Remembering Our Sacred Spaces

Remembering Our Sacred Spaces

Feb 19, 2021 By Julia Andelman | Commentary | Terumah | Shabbat Zakhor

On Shabbat Zakhor—the Shabbat of remembering—we recall the Amalekites’ vicious attack on the Israelites in the desert, in which they targeted not the fighters but the weaker members of the community (Deut. 25:17–19). This year, however, I suspect many of us will be focused instinctively on remembering something else: the anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic turning our lives upside down.

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The Golden Crown of Parenting

The Golden Crown of Parenting

Feb 28, 2020 By Lilly Kaufman | Commentary | Terumah

And you shall cover it with pure gold, inside and outside you shall cover it,
and you shall make for it a crown of gold surrounding it. (Exod. 25:11)

These are architectural details of the Ark of the Covenant, the central element of the Holy of Holies, where the tablets of the Ten Commandments will be held and carried. The Ark has a covering of gold, inside and out, and a crown of gold. Four gold rings are attached to it, two to each side wall, and through these rings poles of acacia wood are inserted, which remain in place, even when the Ark is at rest. To what may this Ark be compared? To parents. How so?

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Why God Needs a Dwelling Place

Why God Needs a Dwelling Place

Feb 8, 2019 By Robert Harris | Commentary | Terumah

Recent portions of the Torah have dealt with the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai; the great theophany of God, in which God spoke the Ten Words, or Decalogue; the revelation of the Book of the Covenant, containing the first extended legal section of the Torah; and the covenantal ceremony sealing the everlasting special relationship between God and the people of Israel (Exod. 19–24). Our portion this week turns to the subject of proper worship of God (a subject with which the Torah will be concerned formally for the next eight portions), and opens with a command from God that Moses organize the people to build God a sanctuary in the wilderness: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the Israelites that they may take for me a contribution; from everyone whose heart so moves him, take my contribution . . . and let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them’” (Exod. 25:1–2,8).

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An Edifice Complex for Our Time

An Edifice Complex for Our Time

Feb 16, 2018 By Marc Gary | Commentary | Terumah

Several years ago, while traveling far from home, I found myself in an affluent suburban community on Shabbat. I decided to attend the local Conservative synagogue in the morning and brought along a friend who I was visiting. The synagogue was newly constructed and architecturally magnificent with a ski-slope ceiling, beautiful stained glass windows, and much ornamentation in gold and silver. The ark was stunning, with a brightly colored tapestry parokhet above which hung a modernistic ner tamid (eternal light). The rabbi stood at a hand-carved lectern and delivered his sermon, which that week happened to be on Parashat Ki Tissa and the lessons of the Golden Calf. As the rabbi reached the climax of his sermon, his voice rose into a crescendo and he declared: “And the Golden Calf lives today!” At which point, my friend leaned over and whispered to me, “Yes, and I think we are sitting in it.”

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Building the Mishkan in Medieval Catalonia

Building the Mishkan in Medieval Catalonia

Mar 3, 2017 By Ariel Fein | Commentary | Terumah

Like a contract between artist and patron, Parashat Terumah details God’s commission of the construction of the Tabernacle —a task ultimately carried out by Bezalel, “who was filled with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge of all manner of workmanship” (Exod. 31:2-3). A combination of God’s commandment and Bezalel’s artistic vision, the Tabernacle exemplifies divine creation through human mediation.

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A Symbol of Peace

A Symbol of Peace

Mar 3, 2017 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Terumah

The Arch of Titus in Rome is simultaneously one of the saddest and most exciting places for a Jew to stand. It is but a short distance from the Colosseum, the stadium made famous by its cruel sports, built with money plundered from the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. Titus’s Arch celebrates the destruction of our Temple, a building designated by Isaiah to be a house of prayer for all nations. A bas-relief sculpture on the arch’s inner walls depicts a sickening scene: the triumphant display of the Temple’s sacred objects, the Menorah most prominent among them, along with a pathetic procession of enslaved Jews.

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Textual Transmission

Textual Transmission

Feb 5, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Terumah

In what font does the Torah need to be written?

A glance inside a Torah scroll reveals that the font is indeed different than what is printed in standard siddurim and other Hebrew texts. It is clearly a beautiful and highly stylized calligraphy, but as this midrash makes clear it is also part of the tradition handed down from generation to generation.

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