Counting the Moments

Counting the Moments

May 14, 2021 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Shavuot

Among the many ways that the pandemic has impacted us this past year has been our relationship to the passage of time. On the one hand, time felt like a blur, with one day bleeding into another. Save for Shabbat, each day looked like the day before and the day after. We wore the same clothes and interacted face-to-face with the same few people in our pods. We sharply curtailed, cancelled, or postponed the life-cycle celebrations, sporting events, live performances, and travel that would normally punctuate our year. Our lives constricted dramatically, as did our hopes and dreams, and even if we were fortunate enough not to suffer illness, death, or job loss, many of us experienced a sense of monotony or diminishment.

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A Holiday of Contradictory Emotions

A Holiday of Contradictory Emotions

Mar 26, 2021 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Pesah | Shabbat Hagadol

Preparing to celebrate our second Pesah under the grip of a global pandemic, our hearts are filled with both sadness and hope. No one has been untouched by COVID-19. We’re grieving a loved one, friend, or neighbor whose life was cut short. We’re experiencing its social and economic toll—overtaxed first responders, teachers, and food providers; overwhelming social isolation; devastating financial insecurity—all exacerbated by underlying inequities. Thankfully, millions have received the vaccine, though many have yet to receive it, and new variants temper our expectations.

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The Future of the Seminary in a Dogmatic Age

The Future of the Seminary in a Dogmatic Age

Mar 18, 2021 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Public Event video

A conversation between Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz and NYU President Emeritus John Sexton. Moderated by Krista Tippett.

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Chancellor’s 5781 Hanukkah Message

Chancellor’s 5781 Hanukkah Message

Dec 11, 2020 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Short Video | Hanukkah

Chancellor Schwartz shares her thoughts for Hanukkah.

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Miracles of Today

Miracles of Today

Dec 11, 2020 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Hanukkah

One of the things I love most about Jewish holiday observances is their evolution over time and space even as core rituals remain. Hanukkah exemplifies this phenomenon. Established by the Hasmoneans to commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over Antiochus, Hanukkah in the Talmud (composed several centuries after these events) focuses on celebrating the miracle of the Temple oil lasting for eight days. With few prescribed mitzvot associated with the holiday, Hanukkah has long been ripe for creative interpretation: theological, sociological, culinary, musical, and artistic. The Hanukkiah itself illustrates its generativity, for it has been hewn from the humblest potato or the most ornate, intricately designed sterling silver; it can take the form of a tiny travel jigsaw puzzle or an enormous outdoor display.

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Tip the Scales

Tip the Scales

Sep 18, 2020 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

“—who will live and who will die . . . who will come to an untimely end . . . . who by plague . . . who will be brought low, and who will be raised up?” (U-netaneh Tokef, from the High Holiday liturgy)

In my earliest memory of this prayer, I am a young girl standing between my mother and grandmother in synagogue amidst hundreds of others. Both women are sobbing uncontrollably, as they recited these words. I was puzzled by their outward display of anguish but knew enough not to interrupt them to ask what caused it. They grasped in a way I had yet to comprehend just how tenuous life is; they understood that this one prayer more than any other captures the fragility of human life that the Days of Awe magnify.

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5781 High Holiday Message

5781 High Holiday Message

Sep 18, 2020 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Short Video | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

Chancellor Schwartz shares her thoughts on the 5781 High Holiday season.

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Human Lives and the Natural World

Human Lives and the Natural World

Oct 18, 2019 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Sukkot

For many of us who live in dense metropolitan areas, spending time in national parks gives us a unique opportunity to experience in more immediate fashion the majesty of our world. Vacationing in the Canadian Rockies this past summer—hiking in the mountains, walking on glaciers, boating in deep blue lakes, cooling off in the spray of gorgeous waterfalls, identifying rare birds and seeing moose, elk, deer, and the occasional bear (thankfully from a distance)—I felt awed and fortunate to behold this.

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Anti-Semitism in America: How Did We Get Here and How Can We Move Forward?

Anti-Semitism in America: How Did We Get Here and How Can We Move Forward?

Dec 11, 2018 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Public Event video

What explains the persistence of anti-Semitism through the ages—even here, today, in the United States? Our noted experts explore anti-Semitism’s historical and theological origins and trace its changing nature over time. They also discuss efforts to counter its pernicious effects and enhance intercultural and interreligious understanding.

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Power and Gender in the Wilderness

Power and Gender in the Wilderness

Jun 15, 2018 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Korah

Last month’s volcanic eruptions in Hawaii are just the most recent example of the violent displacement and destruction that natural disasters can cause. Looking at the photos, I was grateful to learn that no lives had been lost, but I couldn’t help thinking of the fate of Korah and his followers for spurning the Lord: “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households” (Num. 16:32). This strange parashah has always puzzled and disturbed me. What exactly did Korah and his followers do to merit such swift, cruel divine judgment?

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Adele Ginzberg’s Sukkah

Adele Ginzberg’s Sukkah

Oct 21, 2016 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Sukkot

Such a luscious array of branches and gourds proudly displayed by Adele Ginzberg—wife of JTS Talmud professor Louis Ginzberg—as she prepared to once again adorn the JTS sukkah!

This photo from The JTS Library evokes for me the loving care with which many early twentieth-century JTS faculty wives cultivated religious spirit and community.

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Courses of Grief

Courses of Grief

Jul 15, 2016 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Hukkat

Bereft, I combed through the grass in Central Park at dusk when I realized I had lost my late husband’s house keys. Yes, on some level, I knew it wasn’t about the keys. His sudden death two months earlier had devastated me in much more profound ways. And yet, I felt desperate to find those keys!

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Judging the Individual, Guiding the Community

Judging the Individual, Guiding the Community

Aug 21, 2015 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Shofetim

The 2016 US presidential election primary season has begun with over two dozen potential candidates competing for our support. Keeping track of their positions on the issues feels impossible, but watching them as they present themselves to the American public helps sharpen our thinking, not only about the individual candidates, but also about the leadership qualities we both esteem and eschew in our elected officials.

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Taking Judaism Public: From The Maccabees To Adam Sandler

Taking Judaism Public: From The Maccabees To Adam Sandler

Dec 15, 2014 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Short Video | Hanukkah

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Life’s Journeys

Life’s Journeys

Jul 25, 2014 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Masei

In a few weeks, thousands of US high school students will leave home to begin college or a gap year of study and/or service before entering college.

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From Jewess Jeans to Juicy JAPs: Clothing and Jewish Stereotypes

From Jewess Jeans to Juicy JAPs: Clothing and Jewish Stereotypes

Mar 11, 2012 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Public Event video

When one looks at the way the various Ultra-Orthodox sects of Judaism dress, one can guess that they follow a certain path of Judaism. But, is this same type stereotyping also occur for other Jews and how they dress? How are Jewish stereotypes and clothing related? Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz discusses this at the What to Wear event held at JTS on March 11th, 2012.

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Conditioning Our Hearts

Conditioning Our Hearts

Jan 20, 2007 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Va'era

In this week’s parashah, as our narrative draws ever closer to the climactic Exodus from Egypt, we feel the drama building.

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It’s Alright to Cry

It’s Alright to Cry

Dec 7, 2002 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Miketz

In the 1970’s football star Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier sang “It’s Alright to Cry” on the landmark record album “Free to Be You and Me,” produced by Marlo Thomas. The former New York Giants defensive tackle told us, in the Carol Hall song, that “crying gets the sad out of you. It’s all right to cry; it might make you feel better.” Feminism had arrived in America, and men — including football stars with feminine nicknames – were permitted, even encouraged, to show their emotions and cry.

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