Rachel’s Tears

Rachel’s Tears

May 10, 2003 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Emor | Yom Hazikaron-Yom Ha'atzma'ut

It is hard not to be moved by the verses in our parashah which say that when a sheep or goat is born, it shall stay seven days with its mother, and that “no animal from the herd or from the flock shall be slaughtered on the same day as its young.” (Leviticus 22:28) Though few of us are close to sheep or goats, we are sensitized to the feelings of animals from our loving relationships with our pets, and we feel the sensitivity the Torah holds for the sheep and goats, even though they are destined to become food for humans or sacrifices for God.

Read More
Miracles of All Kinds

Miracles of All Kinds

Apr 24, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Tazria | Yom Hazikaron-Yom Ha'atzma'ut

Conspicuous miracles move us more swiftly and deeply than inconspicuous miracles. The latter elude our detection because they are an everyday occurrence. The commonplace numbs our sense of wonder, even as the daily experience of grandeur strips us of awe and radical amazement. It is surely one of the functions of religion to keep our wellsprings of wonder from running dry.

Read More
Rabbi Akiba, Bar Kokhba, and the State of Israel

Rabbi Akiba, Bar Kokhba, and the State of Israel

Apr 13, 2002 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Lag Ba'omer | Yom Hazikaron-Yom Ha'atzma'ut

The Jewish calendar is more than a catechism of our faith. It is also a synopsis of our history. The biblical festivals of Pesah and Shavuot frame the period of the Omer, which is laden with days of commemoration of events that are all post-biblical, indeed largely set in the twentieth century. We move quickly on an emotional roller coaster from Yom Hashoah five days after the end of Pesah (27 Nisan) to Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzma’ut the following week (4 and 5 Iyar) to Lag Baomer thirteen days later (18 Iyar). The linkage between the Holocaust and Israel, embodied in the first three commemoratives, is surely warranted.

Read More
Settling and Resettling the Land of Israel

Settling and Resettling the Land of Israel

Nov 6, 1993 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

God willing, I shall be in Israel when you read my thoughts on this week’s parasha. I leave Sunday evening to attend the commencement of the Seminary’s Beit Midrash in Jerusalem on November 3, at which we will confer some twenty-five degrees to Israeli students who have completed their course of studies either as rabbis, teachers, or community center workers. These young Israelis, and those who preceded them and those who will follow them, will in due time mainstream Conservative Judaism in Israel, thereby creating the reality of a religious alternative to Orthodoxy.

Read More
To Save a Life

To Save a Life

May 6, 1995 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Kedoshim

Passover this year was not a festival of freedom for Alisa Flatow of West Orange, New Jersey. The Brandeis junior was rendered brain dead by a piece of shrapnel on April 9, when a Palestinian suicide bomber drove his van of explosives into a busload of Israelis near Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip. But before her father Stephen allowed his daughter to be taken off the respirator in Beersheva Hospital, he snatched the last measure of life from her limp body: her undamaged organs and corneas were removed “as a lasting contribution to the people of Israel.”

Read More
The Pursuit of Peace

The Pursuit of Peace

Jul 2, 1995 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Pinehas | Sukkot

Experience often has a way of eroding our ideals. While the evidence for this sad fact abounds, I wish to illustrate it anew in the exegetical fate of a passage in this week’s parasha. The parasha concludes with a succinct statement of the sacrifices to be offered in the Tabernacle throughout the year.

Read More
“Dear Mr. Prime Minister…”

“Dear Mr. Prime Minister…”

May 28, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Behukkotai

This past Sunday, New York Jewry greeted the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, at a Leadership Assembly at Baruch College sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and United Jewish Communities.

Read More
Judaism’s Activist Spirit

Judaism’s Activist Spirit

Aug 27, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Eikev

In his early Zionist tract, Rome and Jerusalem (1862), Moses Hess declaimed “that the Jewish religion is, above all, Jewish patriotism.”

Read More