A Progressive Jewish Congregation in Portland, Oregon
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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 BaMidbar: Fire, Water and Wilderness

Posted: May 26, 2017, 8:05 pm
The name of our parashah this week is the same as the name of the Book we are now beginning, once again, to study: BaMidbar, “in the wilderness,” the Book called Numbers in English. So far in our journey from Egypt toward that which is Promised, our Torah has recounted for us the escape itself, the … Continue reading

Shabbat BeHar/BeHukkotai: Taking Refuge in the PaRDeS of Learning

Posted: May 19, 2017, 8:14 pm
Yesterday I was on a conference call with a national social justice organization, during which we were told that “usually, we expect to operate with a six-month window. Lately we have revised that to six days.”  Such is the sense of frantic, non-stop chaos in the political sphere of our nation’s existence. Thank G*d that … Continue reading

May Day: Short Sighted Police Leadership

Posted: May 13, 2017, 12:48 am
I submitted this letter to the Oregonian but I can’t even find the responses they published to the “hot button” question regarding whether the police were too harsh on May Day at the rally and march downtown. I don’t think they published my response – so here it is. The actions of the Portland Police … Continue reading

Shabbat Emor: Why Bother?

Posted: May 12, 2017, 7:21 pm
“You shall not cause My holy Name to be hollowed out and meaningless.”  (Lev.22.32) This mitzvah from the parashat hashavua may seem obscure, especially when it is translated in the traditional way: “profaned.” But it’s actually a very relevant concept. A Jew causes the Name to be “profaned,” i.e. meaningless, when that Jew who is known … Continue reading

Shabbat Akharei Mot-Kedoshim: Choices Don’t Free You, They Distract You

Posted: May 5, 2017, 9:17 pm
On any given day, we are confronted with choices, and have to make a decision regarding how best to choose; that is, how best to live. In some ways we imagine that our lives are so much better than our ancestors, who, we presume, made their choices from a much narrower range of options, and … Continue reading

May Day Portland 2017

Posted: May 3, 2017, 2:47 pm
On Monday, some of us gathered at the Park Blocks at 1pm. We witnessed an hour of dancing – skilled indigenous dancers and drummers in beautiful costumes demonstrating their art in honor of the international workers’ day. Then at about 2pm we heard an hour’s worth of speakers: leaders and activists in communities such as … Continue reading

Shabbat Shemini: What’s Kosher and What’s Treyf

Posted: April 21, 2017, 10:12 pm
This week in parashat Shemini the Torah sets out the law of kashrut, the ancient Israelite guide to good eating. At first glance, you may assume that you will be given a list of what’s kosher and what’s treyf. What’s fascinating is that in all of chapter 11 of the book of Leviticus the word kasher, … Continue reading

The Last Days of Pesakh 5777: The Plagues Today

Posted: April 17, 2017, 5:14 pm
Pesakh 5777 is drawing to a close, but the struggle for freedom continues, even as our struggle to stay mindful of the pain of others, caused sometimes by our own struggle, continues. “The pain of others diminishes our own joys,” and as long as anyone is suffering from the labor pains of the freedom for … Continue reading

Shabbat HaGadol: Being Commanded isn’t Enough, and Neither is Being Free

Posted: April 7, 2017, 8:58 pm
The days before and after Shabbat haGadol, “the Great Shabbat,” are meant to be a time of excitement and joy, of running around to find the best ingredients and the nicest symbolic foods for our Seder. It’s a time to clean house, to bring out the Pesakh plates and the “good” utensils in honor of … Continue reading

PRESS RELEASE: The Killing of Quanice Hayes by officer Andrew Hearst

Posted: March 26, 2017, 9:01 pm
Press Statement    For Immediate Release                             March 22, 2017 Contact: Rev. Dr. LeRoy Haynes, Jr. Rev. Dr. T. Allen Bethel Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition For Justice and Police Reform Subject: The Killing of Quanice Hayes by officer Andrew Hearst   The Grand Jury decision not to indict Portland Police Officer Andrew Hearst for the killing of … Continue reading

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