Rabbi’s Corner

Judaism values quest for truth, not endless arguing

Rabbi Robert Eisen

Which of the following makes you the angriest: • Arguing with someone when you know you are right? • Arguing with someone when you know they are wrong? • Arguing in general? One of the comments I hear all too often is, “The thing I love most about Judaism… Read more »

Rabbi’s corner: Seven lessons from Ruth

Jewish communities have a custom of reading the Book of Ruth on the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is not an obvious selection. The Talmudist Rabbi Zeira asked, “This scroll does not contain the laws of impurity or purity, prohibitions or… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: New view of current ‘exile’

Rabbi Israel Becker

As I was praying alone in my study this Passover, words I had been saying my entire life suddenly popped out of the siddur: “We have been exiled from our land. We are unable to serve you in your Holy House.” We also are experiencing an exile, from our… Read more »

This new reality brings our focus inward

Have you ever been engrossed in your phone, and then your phone dies, leaving you feeling at a loss? The office we run out of the door to in the mornings no longer needs us there. The big dinner we are getting a babysitter for has been postponed. The vacation… Read more »

Purim fun should not eclipse message on education

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

Two thousand five hundred years ago, Haman — then prime minister of the Persian Empire — succeeded in convincing King Ahasuerus to issue a decree to destroy the Jews throughout the land.  Following the issuance of this decree, Haman and his comrades went strolling with jovial hearts and encountered the… Read more »

Tu B’Shevat should cultivate responsibility to sustain world

Rabbi Batsheva Appel

I am not a fan of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, although I used it in my teaching for years around Tu B’Shevat, needing a story that features trees. Every time I taught with the book, it made me uncomfortable. Designated the birthday of the trees, Tu B’Shevat… Read more »

Four steps to tackle our biggest issue now, starting with building bridges

The emergence of violent anti-Semitism as a widespread American scourge can leave no Jews with warm thoughts about the year that just passed. Until October 2018, just 15 months ago, there had never been a fatal attack on a synagogue in the United States. Now there have been two… Read more »

On visit to migrant detention center, recognizing our collective responsibility

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron

I was humbled and inspired to travel Nov. 3-6 with other rabbis and cantors to El Paso and Juarez, along with staff from HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and T’ruah, a rabbinic organization for human rights, to visit detained immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border. These are my… Read more »

After the High Holy Days, what is our focus?

Rabbi Robert Eisen

Finish the sentence: “If not now, _____” I would venture to guess that most of us would immediately call to mind the famous passage attributed to Hillel the Elder (Pirkei Avot 1:14): If I am not for myself, who is for me? When I am for myself, what am… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: Sukkot — A holiday of joy and unity

Joy Often repeated during the High Holiday season: “What are you celebrating now?” “Who cares? We Jews always pray, eat, and are merry!” During prayers on every Jewish holiday, we mention “Mo’adim L’Simcha,” a holiday to rejoice. Yet, on Sukkot there is an extra emphasis on being happy and… Read more »

Wandering from the path: A law of return

Rabbi Israel Becker

As Rosh Hashanah approaches and we take stock of our own spiritual lives, it certainly behooves us to dedicate ourselves to expend every effort in reaching out to our fellow Jews, and especially to our own children and grandchildren. In fact, extending ourselves to help inspire our fellow Jews… Read more »

Rabbi’s corner: Is your faith solid or fluid?

Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin (Britta Van Vranken)

There is a tale about a rabbi whose synagogue was infested with mice. When the conventional method to get rid of them didn’t succeed, he turned to a fellow rabbi for advice. “Simple,” said his colleague, “give them a Bar Mitzvah and they won’t step foot in your synagogue… Read more »

Yiddish motto explains the counting of the Omer

Every day during the month of Iyar, we observe the mitzvah of Sefirat HaOmer, or counting the Omer. This mitzvah begins on the second day of Passover and continues until the eve of Shavuot. The counting is practiced daily after nightfall with some counting from a Siddur (prayer book),… Read more »

Composing prayers as a response to the world

Rabbi Hazzan Avraham Alpert

Do you get frustrated from reading the news? If you are like me, you find it difficult to restrain yourself from posting and reposting on social media in response to the stories that upset you. It’s good, though, to have other ways to answer the irritations that come with… Read more »

Finding ourselves in familiar, unfamiliar places

With a name like Batsheva, I also have a Starbucks name, “Beth,” for ordering in person. I know that the name Batsheva is not easy for people. It might be the first time that they encounter the name and that it is hard to spell if you are not… Read more »

Many people hazy on what Messianic era will bring

Not too long ago I was at Tucson Hebrew Academy doing a couple of guest presentations for the third, fourth, and fifth graders, and what unfolded while doing so was rather exciting. The topic was the Jewish view regarding the Moshiach (Messiah) and the Messianic era. Essentially, my goal… Read more »

Gifts from the heart

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

Tzedakah is usually translated as “charity” but a distinction is often made between the meanings of these two words. “Tzedakah” comes from the Hebrew root that means righteousness or justice.  “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” — “Justice, justice you shall pursue” — is often quoted in support of financial contributions that… Read more »

Mount Sinai: revelation or inspiration?

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

It was the greatest moment in our people’s entire history. But what the heck actually happened? This week we read the Torah portion of Yitro, including the revelation at Mount Sinai. This climactic section includes the enormous experience of receiving the Ten Commandments through the theophany at Sinai, the… Read more »

Ready or not, here life comes

The email was waiting in my inbox. My column was due. “What column?” I asked myself. I did not remember that it was my turn. What could I possibly write about on short notice at this time of year with four funerals over the next few days, and the… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: In modern times, is peace and harmony possible?

Benzion Shemtov

Many times we wonder: What is happening with the tranquility of this world? Where has it gone? Do peace and harmony reside in the spiritual realms while our world is destined to live with hardships and troubles? The fifth Chabad Rebbe lived in the early 1900s. One of his… Read more »