Rabbi’s Corner

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 »

Got billions? Giving like the other half does

The philanthropic world was titillated recently when 40 members of the world’s wealthy elite — including 13 Jews — announced that they would give away more than half their money before they died. The participating philanthropists were responding to a challenge issued this year by Warren Buffett and Bill… Read more »

Kid or adult, Bar/Bat Mitzvah is start of journey

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

I remember clearly the first time I was called by my newly acquired Hebrew name to say the Torah blessings on Rosh Hashanah. I was in my early 40s and just beginning to discover my own heritage. Who knew that Judaism could be so complex, so compelling, so enriching?… Read more »

Keep learning — it is our obligation to God

These past few weeks we, the Jewish people, have faithfully been counting the Omer, numbering each day as we ascend from Passover to Shavuot. After 49 days of reckoning, our reward will be more than just a piece of cheesecake: Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a special, magical and mystical night… Read more »