Rabbi’s Corner

Eternal light not just symbol of God’s presence

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

A key feature of a synagogue tour is the ner tamid, the eternal light. We explain to people unfamiliar with synagogue symbolism that the light represents God’s eternal presence. But is it that simple? The Torah describes in detail the menorah, the seven-branched lamp stand, which was one of… Read more »

It’s past time to rise up against gun violence

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron

The bumper sticker on the car in front of me read “my loved one was murdered.” I automatically fill in “by gun violence.” I know the statistics. I want to jump out of my car and say to this person, “I am so sorry.” We are weeping in my… Read more »

In special year, mitzvah 612 fosters faith, unity

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

The Jewish year of 5776 has just begun and we are certain that it will be a wonderful year. In the words of the Kohen Gadol (high priest) during the Yom Kippur service, may it be a year of light, of blessing, of rejoicing, of happiness, of glory and… Read more »

At new year, have gratitude for God’s latitude

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

We are about to begin the yearly journey of the Jewish fall holidays, examining the choices we continually make and the way our choices have worked out for us in the past year. The last month of the Jewish year, Elul, is bracketed by Torah portions from Deuteronomy that… Read more »

In New Year, give bigotry, racism no quarter

Rabbi Thomas Louchheim

In one month, many of us will gather in our synagogues, ob­serving the beginning of the New Year. Ten days later we will fast and be called to look beyond our needs and our yearnings to care for those whose basic needs are not being met. I realize today… Read more »

Unlike Moses, let transitions lead to growth

Rabbi Batsheva Appel

In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, we find that after almost 40 years of journey in the wilderness, Israel has learned more about how to be a community and about how to be a community that has a covenant with God by doing what God wants. Things have changed… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: Eight words that changed Jefferson’s mind

Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin

It took only eight sincere words to rekindle the close connection between two American luminaries that had been shattered by political wars and opposing ideologies. Those eight words helped restore the bond of two Founding Fathers, both of whom served as presidents of the United States. Thomas Jefferson and… Read more »

Unsure about new practices? Think ‘not yet’ instead of ‘no’

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

I recently read a long document about how to make a kitchen kosher for Passover. The work involved at that level of detail took my breath away. Transforming a kitchen to the highest level of observance is on one end of a continuum.The Jews who can’t be bothered to… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: Celebrate Passover in your heart and soul

Rabbi Robert Eisen

The holiday of Passover that many of us are eagerly anticipating is known by many names, each of which reflects a different dimension of what we will be celebrating. While we are usually more concerned with who may or may not be present at our seder table (finding the… Read more »

Our present determines our future

Rabbi Israel Becker

Two weeks ago, we read that Moses’ father-in-law Yisro’s life changed forever when he heard of the massive miracles that occurred for the Jewish people as they left Egypt. At our Pesach seder, we remember these miracles, the 10 plagues, the splitting of the sea, etc. But one dimension… Read more »

Needs of others, and of G-d, at root of performing mitzvot

Rabbi Ephraim Zimmerman

Picture this: The day at work is almost over and, remembering that you need to pick up some groceries, you mention to your coworker that you’ll be stopping at Sprouts on the way home. Her ears perk up and she asks you for a favor. She’s been wanting to… Read more »

At Chanukah, kashrut reminder of miracles

Rabbi Israel Becker

There is a specific kosher law pertaining to sirloin steak and filet mignon that contains a hidden message about miracles and survival. This law actually dates back to a dramatic episode recorded in the Torah, when our patriarch Jacob, returning to Israel with his young and large family, was… Read more »

Taking a cue from the midterm elections

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

By the time you read this column, results of the 2014 midterm elections in the United States will already be announced, reported, chewed over and, depending on your political affiliation, celebrated or bemoaned. “Every single thing that a person sees or hears, is an instruction to him in his… Read more »

Letting the land and people rest and grow

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

Can a land require a Sabbath, too? The Jewish answer is yes. This calendar year of 5775 is a special time in our tradition: it marks the sabbatical year, the shmittah. In Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy we are commanded to harvest crops only for the first six years of… Read more »

React or respond? A lesson for the New Year

Rabbi Robert Eisen

What a summer this has been! It began with an unprecedented number of congregations sponsoring missions to Israel, and then spent most of its days holding us captive to the news, wondering just what might be. Thoughts of falafel, shawarma and coffee like no other in the world gave… Read more »

Rabbi’s corner: Reevaluating the youth sports juggernaut

Rabbi Batsheva Appel

Participating in sports is an important part of our children’s lives. When Bruce Feiler recently wrote in The New York Times about how the “youth sports juggernaut” is taking over the lives of families, I think he touched a nerve. His article, “There’s No Off in This Season,”  shares… Read more »

In Tucson, as in Jewish tradition, everyone counts

Rabbi Ben Herman

We have now reached the series of Torah portions that is a mathe­matician’s dream. After all, this section of the Torah is called Numbers! In Parshat B’midbar, a census is taken of the Israelite men of military age who would later conquer the Land of Canaan. The total count… Read more »

Outreach to ‘fifth son’ vital beyond Passover

Rabbi Yossi Winner and his wife, Naomi, set up a Chabad tent on the University of Arizona mall each week.

Every Tuesday, my wife, Naomi, and I sit on campus under a tent meeting with students as they pass by in between their classes. One such Tuesday, a few weeks ago, I encountered an individual holding a big sign that read, “You all deserve hell.” After about an hour,… Read more »

In a world of names, searching for meaning

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

When asked, “What is your name?” we generally respond with our first name or perhaps our full legal name. But each of us has many names, and occasionally it is worthwhile to consider what they are and what they say about us. Our names reveal something about our origins… Read more »

Jewish history: improbable yet true fulfillment of prophecy

Rabbi Ephraim Zimmerman

Our Jewish history is extraordinary. According to the laws of nature, the course of our nation should have been drastically different. (You’ve probably gotten an email or two about this topic with the subject line reading FW: FW:). What is even more fascinating is that this incredible story was… Read more »