A Time for Comfort

A Time for Comfort

Aug 20, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

This week witnessed a historic and painful moment in the history of Modern Israel the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip. As many commentators have pointed out, this was the first time since 1967 that Israel has withdrawn unilaterally from territories occupied in the Six Day War. While Prime Minister Ariel Sharon acknowledged the profound national trauma of uprooting families living in the Gaza Strip, he gave voice to the reality of the situation.

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True Refuge

True Refuge

Jul 6, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Masei | Mattot

The word “miklat” is repeated 10 times in the 34 verses of Chapter 35 of the Book of Numbers. It is designed to be a place of safety, a place of escape, a place free from danger, a place that shelters you. But in this year’s reading of Parashat Mattot—Mas’ei, I couldn’t see these words — “miklat” (refuge), “arei miklat” (cities of refuge), “miklato” (his refuge) — without thinking of the ubiquitous signs in modern day Israeli towns and cities which use the same word — “miklat” — but which in the modern context means “shelter”, as in “bomb shelter” or “air raid shelter.”

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Why Was This Time Different?

Why Was This Time Different?

Jun 12, 2004 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

The Torah’s telling of the Israelites’ journeys in the wilderness is in many ways a story of shortage: shortage of food (at least, desirable food) water – and hope. One commodity was rarely in short supply: fear.

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Vigorous Hands

Vigorous Hands

Jun 8, 2002 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

A visitor to Jerusalem is likely to notice a structure more in keeping with the green flatlands of the Netherlands than the golden hills of the Holy City. The windmill established by British philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore was designed to provide sustenance for the Jews of Jerusalem. It sits today in the district called Yemin Moshe, named in honor of Montefiore.

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The Botanical Menorah

The Botanical Menorah

Jun 18, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

A central image of this week’s parashah is the seven-branched menorah, which was lit in the Israelites’ journey in the desert and later in the Temple. This ancient symbol turns our thoughts to Shabbat, and also toward the land of Israel.

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The Bus on Jaffa Road: The Story of Middle East Terrorism and the Search for Justice

The Bus on Jaffa Road: The Story of Middle East Terrorism and the Search for Justice

Nov 19, 2014 By Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Public Event audio

The Bus on Jaffa Road explores the 1996 incident that took the lives of JTS student Matthew Eisenfeld (z”l) and his fiancée, Sara Duker (z”l), and the couple’s legacy.

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Taming the Beast of Extremism

Taming the Beast of Extremism

Mar 12, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Pekudei | Purim | Shabbat Hahodesh

Bred in the hothouse of militant Orthodox Zionism, Dr. Baruch Goldstein knew the sacred texts of Judaism. His premeditated murder of dozens of Palestinian men kneeling in prayer in the Hebron mosque on the Friday of Purim was clearly triggered by the scriptural readings of the festival. On the sabbath before, Shabbat Zakhor, he had heard in the synagogue once again the ancient injunction never to forget what Amalek did to Israel in the wilderness (Deut. 25:17-19). The haftarah for the day (I Sam. 15) vividly recalls the failure of Saul, Israel’s first king, to follow up his victory over Amalek with total destruction. His indecision in the face of popular demand for the spoils of war cost him God’s confidence and eventually his throne. The imprecation of the prophet Samuel as he belatedly executed Agag, Amalek’s captured king, must have continued to ring in Goldstein’s ear: “As your sword has bereaved women, so shall your mother be bereaved among women (15:33).”

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The Gift of Uncertainty

The Gift of Uncertainty

May 13, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Emor

Israel is a land almost wholly dependent on the heavens above. As such, concern for one’s crops is a dominant theme through the biblical and rabbinic periods. Far from being a land irrigated by a river flowing through its length as Egypt, Israel is dependent on the rains above — and the winds below. Accordingly, this week’s Parashat Emor delineates the calendar year and very specifically addresses the period in which we find ourselves — the counting of the Omer from Passover to Shavu’ot.

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