So Near And Yet So Far

Passover 5771 may be past, but its lessons return in last week’s parashah (B’ha’alot’kha). Of all our holidays, Passover ranks supreme in that we were delivered from Egypt specifically with Passover in mind. Whatever else we do as Jews follows from this singular event in our past. In Temple days, therefore, the Passover sacrifice was the sole calendrical obligation whose purposeful neglect merited a form of capital punishment called karet – the divine sentence of being “cut off” from family ties after we die.

A Passover Question That Keeps Us Up All Night

Parashat Tzav

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman

We can chart the last half century by the kinds of seder we have had. Fifty years ago, we celebrated an old-country model brought here by grandparents who davened it through in Hebrew from the Maxwell House Haggadah. Some of us remember it nostalgically, but in fact, we rarely got through it all. Attention lagged half way through. Color it in warm pastels of memory.

My Temple, My Sanctuary

by Jill Menkes Kushner

From Reform Judaism, Winter 1995
Reprinted With Permission

Temple has become a place to ask questions about God; to think; to wonder; to explore feelings that seem out of place in the everyday world.

Ethnicity, Geography and Jewish Community

by Sherry Israel

From The Reconstructionist, Spring 1995
Reprinted with permission.

In any discussion of community and contemporary American Jewry, it is essential that we pay attention to the wide context in which we live. Too often, we seem to forget that the complex realities of Jewish life today did not arise in a vacuum, that we are profoundly influenced by the currents of modern American culture.

Shul Searching

From ``The Jewish Journal,'' September 26, 1997

Reprinted with permission.

You would think that in a city with 519,000 Jews and at least 175 synagogues of all different strains, Judith --- she requested her last name not be used --- would be able to pick a place of worship to spend the High Holidays. But she can't. ``I have no idea where I'm going,'' she said. ``I just haven't found the place.''

Prayer Block

Lawrence Bush

From Tikkun, September/October 1995 Vol. 10, No. 5
Reprinted with Permission

If Noah had been able to pray before the flood-rains fell, the world might not have been destroyed. The Zohar implies this when it portrays Noah emerging from the ark, breaking into tears at the sight of the drowned, decimated landscape, and at last crying out piteously to the heavens --- at which point God responds:

Foolish shepherd...