Rabbi’s Corner

Chabadniks proud of ‘criminal’ past

Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin [Britta Van Vranken)

On Dec. 3, corresponding to the Hebrew date of Kislev 19, Chabad followers around the globe celebrate the release from prison of the founder of Chabad Hasidism, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. A few days earlier, Kislev 10, is named by Hasidim the “festival of liberation” as the day… Read more »

The secret to Chabad’s (and your) success

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

Despite the devastation wrought by superstorm Sandy, close to 4,500 Hasidic rabbis, community lead­ers and activists hope to pack a warehouse-turned-ballroom at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on Sunday, Nov. 11, for the grand banquet of the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries. Seated in the crowd will be me and my… Read more »

After High Holidays we ask, ‘And then what?’

According to history as I was taught, during World War II, when the leaders of the Japanese armed forces presented their plan to attack Pearl Harbor to the emperor for approval, after all the parties involved had stated their case and guaranteed the success of the mission, the emperor… Read more »

A fresh start or a September song?

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

The great beauty of the Jewish High Holy Day season is the wonderful opportunity it provides for each of us to start over. Whatever it is that we have done in the past year, whoever we have offended, however we have failed, we now have the chance to begin… Read more »

Rabbi’s corner: Protas story reveals power of human spirit

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

Those who knew Ruth Protas would not be surprised to learn how much laughter there was at the shiva minyan held last month several days after her death. Every story about Ruth revealed her love of life, her laughter, her sense of humor and her spunk. Several pictures at… Read more »

Rabbi’s corner: Journey to Promised Land not without pitfalls

Rabbi Ben Herman

This week marks one year since my move to Tucson from New York City. Entering my first full-time job after 24 straight years of being a student, I was apprehensive about this transition. Although I previously had held student pulpits and rabbinic internships, I wondered what life would be… Read more »

Rabbi’s corner: A new read on one of the 10 commandments

Rabbi Shair Lobb

We are coming up on the traditional time for celebrating the giving of the Ten Dibrot or utterances (usually translated as commandments). Naturally, much has been written about these instructions, utterances, mitzvot (many names because they are not well understood at all) as we struggle to pattern our lives… Read more »

How do you respond to wrong turns in life?

Rabbi Thomas Louchheim

One of my favorite stories of my grandfather involves driving home from a Dodgers game. Dodger Stadium is located adjacent to downtown Los Angeles. Even when a game ends late in the evening there’s traffic from the stadium, plus regular evening traffic downtown. In his later years, my grandfather’s… Read more »

Leap of faith is essence of Passover holiday

Rabbi Yossi Winner

Each year on the holiday of Pesach some 500 Jewish students join my wife, family and me for the Passover Seders. It is an extraordinary scene! Who would have imagined that on a college campus where the challenges to Jewish identity and practice are many, a place where students… Read more »

Rabbi Jason Holtz on lessons from the patient’s side of the bed

Rabbi Jason Holtz

 These are the things that are limitless, of which a person enjoys the fruit of the world, while the principal remains in the world to come … visiting the sick. — Rabbi Yochanan as cited in Shabbat 127 Back in September, I was a very healthy guy, never having… Read more »

Rabbi’s corner: On Jan. 8, remembrance and healing linked

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron

What does healing mean in our tradition? How do we understand “remembering”? How are these two concepts forever linked in our tradition? The Mishebeirach prayer for healing moves us into the profound depths of what healing means in Jewish belief. When we recite this prayer, we begin by remembering:… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: Giving thanks for hard-won lessons

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

Every now and then there are some times when being a congregational rabbi is just, well, hard. Some of this is seasonal: of course there are the High Holy Days, with the increased expectations and attendance, plethora of services to officiate and sermons to deliver, complex and demanding music… Read more »

Roots in heaven: the upside down tree

Rabbi Israel Becker

“Shema Yisroel, Listen Israel!” are the first words uttered by the Kohane, or Jewish priest, in his inspirational speech to the soldiers of Israel before going into battle (Deuteronomy 20:2-3). The purpose of these words was to capture each soldier’s attention. The great medieval French Torah commentator, Rashi (Rabbi… Read more »

A lesson on access from the Turkish premier

Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rabbi Levi Matusof, Dec. 12, 2004 (Yasin Aras)

The months of the Hebrew calendar can easily be categorized. We have Nissan exploring slavery and freedom. In Tevet, Tammuz and Av we deplore hatred and the destruction it causes and pray for redemption. Shevat is for the trees and Adar involves uplifting joy. The month of Elul, however,… Read more »

Auschwitz 2011: Remembering the Shoah

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron

We were a gathering of 60 adults, drenched, freezing, each of us holding the image of roll-call, rows and rows of Jews standing in the pelting rain, weak from starvation, wearing cotton shifts, frozen human beings. We held onto our umbrellas with clenched fists and clenched hearts; walking, living… Read more »

Holy sparks: You won’t find this on YouTube

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

On Wednesday, March 30, we went to the 2nd Annual Cindy Wool Memorial Seminar on Humanism in Medicine, held in memory of our dear friend, at the Marriott University Park in Tucson. The speaker, Rachel Naomi Remen, bestselling author of “Kitchen Table Wisdom,” recalled her grandfather telling her that… Read more »

Beyond animal sacrifice: At heart, Leviticus is timeless moral guide

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

Impenetrable, irrelevant, boring. These are some of the descriptions I’ve heard about the Book of Leviticus, which we begin reading this week during the annual Torah cycle. Even the great Israeli teacher Nehama Leibowitz called the laws of Leviticus a “closed book to us” — which did not prevent… Read more »

Tucson trauma and civility

For a while last month we here in Tucson were the epicenter of the world, thanks to the brutal act of the deeply disturbed man who murdered six innocent people and wounded 13 others, including our congresswoman and friend, Gabrielle Giffords. She is a kind, intelligent, principled, Jewish representative… Read more »

Being Jewish: seeking, not defining, G-d

Rabbi Shafir Lobb

It started when a friend sent me an article about people leaving structured religion faster than new people are joining, especially 30- to 40-year- olds. The last line in the alter net.org article, “Are We Becoming an Atheist Nation? Three Reasons Young People Are Abandoning Religion,” expressed concern about… Read more »

Inspired by the GPS

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

An 82-year-old Jewish man was recently marveling to me about the wonders of the Global Positioning System, otherwise known as the GPS satellite-based global navigation system. An observation of his got me thinking. “You see,” he said, “a person can go anywhere but if he doesn’t have a destination… Read more »