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 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

Shabbat HaHodesh: Say His Name

Posted: March 24, 2017, 7:37 pm
This Shabbat carries so much significance – it is Shabbat HaHodesh, the Shabbat of The Month, that is, the first month of the Jewish year, the month in which we will commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. That escape occurred on the 14th day of the month we now call Nisan, and every year we gather … Continue reading

The Most Important Mitzvah

Posted: March 23, 2017, 5:25 pm
It’s a Portland kind of question: What do you do for Passover when you’re gluten free?  In order to answer this question it’s best to first consider a more fundamental question: What is the Most Important Mitzvah of Pesakh? There are several mitzvot that all might be considered primary:  1. have a Seder and tell … Continue reading

Shabbat Ki Tisa: What Are You Doing For Pesakh?

Posted: March 17, 2017, 6:43 pm
As we know, the days marked as holy for recalling and reliving the Exodus from Egypt have marked the Jewish people and Jewish culture profoundly; for thousands of years the Jewish story has been retold every year as part of our human celebration of the spring season. We need to tell this story; we need … Continue reading

Shabbat Zakhor: Fear of G*d

Posted: March 10, 2017, 9:18 pm
The learning of this week’s parashah all comes down to a confrontation between Shifra and Pu’ah, on one side, and Amalek, on the other. Shifra and Pu’ah were the Hebrew midwives whom Pharaoh commanded to carry out his plan to eradicate the Hebrews by killing all the boy babies as they were born. But the midwives … Continue reading

PDX Never Again: a response to the bomb threat at the Mittleman JCC, Portland OR

Posted: March 9, 2017, 6:03 pm
PDX Never Again statement in response to bomb threat at Mittleman Jewish Community Center and similar occurences nationwide: We are at an inflection point in our nation’s history. In the past few months, we have seen an upswing in hate crimes, violence, vandalism, and threats made against marginalized individuals and communities across the country. As … Continue reading

Shabbat Mishpatim / Shabbat Shekalim: Community – The Difficulty Is In the Details

Posted: February 24, 2017, 11:00 pm
Every year we study once again the account of the moment when our people stood at the foot of Mt Sinai, witnessed a revelation, and became a community. Literally a “peak moment,” our commentators teach that this was the only time in all the history of our People of Israel when we were of one … Continue reading

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