On Rebuilding the Temple

On Rebuilding the Temple

Apr 3, 2001 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Terumah

With this week’s parasha we take up the manner in which ancient Israel was to worship God. The cult bespeaks the effort to institutionalize the peak experience of Sinai. How was an echo of the awesome nearness of God which marked Sinai to be perpetuated far from it in the depth of the ordinary? What was the nature of the instrument that would carry Sinai into the world? The model society envisioned by the Torah would not long endure without a ritual link to the source of its inspiration. Nothing confirms just how vital the cult was than the amount of attention paid to it by Scripture. For the rest of the book of Exodus and through the books of Leviticus and Numbers which are to follow, we shall be largely concerned with matters relating to the cult.

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Rabbi Akiva’s Adult Bar-Mitzvah

Rabbi Akiva’s Adult Bar-Mitzvah

Jun 21, 2003 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

One of the most compelling new rituals in the Conservative synagogue is the adult bat–mitzvah. The impulse is egalitarian, the result religious empowerment. The women who participate enjoyed no bat–mitzvah ceremony in their youth. Years later they seek to fill the void. Usually in small groups of up to a dozen, they study with their rabbi and cantor for a period of at least two years. The practice is so widespread today that the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism has produced a carefully articulated curriculum to enhance the meaningfulness of the experience. Learning to read Hebrew is required. Biblically based yet religiously encompassing, the study period culminates in the preparation of a specific parashah and haftarah to be chanted in the synagogue on a Shabbat morning. There is definitely comfort in numbers. Doing the bat–mitzvah as a group lessens the tension of performing in public. Each participant must master only a part of the whole.

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Keeping “The Fires of Israel” Lit

Keeping “The Fires of Israel” Lit

Mar 22, 2003 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Tzav

In a session not long ago with Seminary students on religious services, I was asked about the restoration of a phrase from the siddur that the Conservative movement had dropped as early as the 1940’s.

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The Conversion Controversy

The Conversion Controversy

Oct 5, 2002 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Bereishit

Conversion is back in the news. During the High-Holy-Day period just ended, a Conservative rabbinic court in Eastern Europe completed the conversion process of eighteen Czech and nineteen Polish converts to Judaism. Some 80 per cent had Jewish roots. All studied formally for at least a full year (many more) and were obliged to be active in their respective Jewish communities. Prior to conversion, the men underwent either a full or symbolic ritual circumcision (if already circumcised), while both men and women went through ritual immersion. Another half-dozen in Prague are on their way to completing the conversion process.

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Zebulun, Issachar and the Importance of Jewish Education

Zebulun, Issachar and the Importance of Jewish Education

Dec 25, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayehi

The enterprise of Jewish education, on which the future of the Jewish people rests, has always been a partnership between educators and patrons.

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Eisen on Covenant at the Rabbinical Assembly

Eisen on Covenant at the Rabbinical Assembly

May 12, 2014 By Arnold M. Eisen | Public Event video | Short Video

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Moses, the Charismatic Leader

Moses, the Charismatic Leader

Apr 15, 2006 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Pesah

It would have been sufficient. The refrain of dayenu that reverberated through seders around the world still rings in my ears.

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Reinvigorating Conservative Judaism

Reinvigorating Conservative Judaism

Feb 11, 2006 By Susan Grossman | Commentary | Beshallah

The Talmud recounts a story told by Rabbi Joshua Ben Hananiah who, while on a journey, met a young boy sitting at a crossroad.

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