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Rabbi’s Shabbat Message

Rabbi Ariel’s Shabbat message is delivered to the congregation in our weekly e-newsletter. You can also use the links below to visit the Rabbi’s blog, Torah for the 21st Century.

Torah for the 21st Century

This too is Torah, and I need to learn it

Shabbat Toldot: Trust, Despite Everything

Posted: November 17, 2017, 8:45 pm
In parashat Toldot we read of the birth of the twins Esau and Jacob, born to Rebekah and Isaac after years of trying to get pregnant, and much frustration and difficulty. The family that is created when the children are safely born seems to thrive: their parents succeed in helping their boys to find for … Continue reading

Shabbat Hayye Sarah: Mourning the Dead

Posted: November 10, 2017, 9:02 pm
Once again, gun violence leaves us breathless, and leaves some of us dead. We have reached a point in our nation where, when we see an American flag at half-mast, it is no longer clear to us why. There is so much death around us, so many incidences of murder by gun. And once again … Continue reading

Shabbat Bereshit: Till It and Tend It

Posted: October 13, 2017, 9:38 pm
This Shabbat we return to our regularly-scheduled Torah, as it were, after the excitement on Simkhat Torah of reading the very end and the very beginning of the scroll. Moshe Rabbenu, Moses our teacher, dies, and is bewailed, and then the people move on – and we find ourselves, following them, suddenly in a Garden … Continue reading

Shabbat of Sukkot 5778: the sukkah as reminder of the wilderness Mishkan

Posted: October 6, 2017, 10:04 pm
Sukkot begins five days after Yom Kippur. In the maftir Torah readings for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur we have seen (in Numbers 29) a list of the holy days in chronological order, and what sacrifices our ancestors brought to mark each one. Numbers 29.1-6 refers to “the first day of the seventh month,” which … Continue reading

Yom Kippur 5778: Who Shall I Say Is Calling?

Posted: October 3, 2017, 11:52 pm
 In the late 1990s I had the opportunity to teach Jewish history to Jewish high school students. When we came to the part on anti-Semitism, every student in the class insisted to me they had never experienced anti-Semitism personally. I went around telling adults about it all over Portland’s Jewish community. Oh, yes, they all … Continue reading

After Another Tragedy, Remembering Dawn and Mary

Posted: October 3, 2017, 11:48 pm
Once again we find ourselves silenced by the horrified recognition that once again this has happened, as we all knew that it would happen, again. We who are alive today, who so recently chanted the words “who by fire, who by water,” we once again see that the world we live in is punctuated by … Continue reading

Rosh HaShanah 5778 – the Shofar’s call: Get Woke

Posted: September 24, 2017, 4:59 pm
 Shanah Tovah!   Tomorrow we will gather to experience one of the most important spiritual moments of this day that we call Rosh HaShanah, the New Year. That experience is the sounding of the Shofar. Although it may not seem to us to be the ultimate purpose of our sacred gathering, the sounding of the … Continue reading

Shabbat Nitzavim-VaYelekh: Looking Back to See Ahead

Posted: September 15, 2017, 8:58 pm
What a year 5777 was. Do you remember back, past last November? The presidential election came as such a tremendous surprise to so many that it makes last High Holy Days – only a year ago – seem as if that time belongs to another world. Interestingly enough, if we look farther back, we may … Continue reading

Shabbat Ki Tetze: Doing Battle In Jewish

Posted: September 1, 2017, 8:39 pm
The first words of this week’s parashah are כי תצא למלחמה ki tetze l’milkhamah, “when you go out to do battle.” When one looks for these words in the Torah scroll, it’s easy to mistake the place, for the same phrase appears three times in a short space of parchment. All three have in common that … Continue reading

the Month of Elul: Dreaming Like a Jew

Posted: August 31, 2017, 4:50 pm
Consider this story, from 19th century Poland, a time when Jews eagerly embraced modernity as a way out of persecution and oppression: A maskil, that is, a Jew who valued secular knowledge, and was, further, the kind of maskil who disdained Jewish teachings as primitive, went to the Kotzker Rabbi one day and said, “in the Talmud … Continue reading

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