Open Hearts. Open Minds. Strong Values.

Tzav - Shushan Purim

Posted on March 18th, 2019

Leviticus 6:1−8:36

Dvora Weisberg for MyJewishLearning


Private And Communal Judaism

Despite the occasional need for private expressions of Judaism, we must remember our connection to the larger public community.

Leviticus, chapter 8, describes the consecration of the mishkan, the portable sanctuary carried in the Sinai desert, and of Aaron and his sons as priests. Moses assembles the entire congregation and performs the rituals that imbue the mishkan and the priests with holiness. Then he instructs Aaron and his sons:

Continue reading.

Vayikra - Shabbat Zachor

Posted on March 11th, 2019

Leviticus 1:1−5:26

By Rabbi David A. Lyon for 


Gifts That Bring Us Close to God

The Book of Leviticus is not a favorite among biblical readers. If it’s any indication, Hollywood hasn’t recreated any scenes from Leviticus, like it has from Genesis and Exodus. But for all its talk about sacrifices and bodily effects, Leviticus has a lot to tell us if we lift the ancient rituals out of their ancient settings and dust them off for relevant lessons.

To begin, in Near Eastern cultures of the time, sacrifices on altars were brought to feed gods that were represented by statues of deities. People brought them animals, grains, and oils, among other gifts. In contrast, we learn in Torah that animal and grain sacrifices were brought by Israelites to create a link between the One God, God’s people, and the world.

Continue reading.


Posted on March 4th, 2019

By Beth Kalisch for 

Exodus 38:21 - 40:38


Wholeness Is Found in the Little Details

This week's Torah portion, Parashat P'kudei, brings the Book of Exodus to a close. The Israelites — who by this point in our story have been freed from Egyptian slavery, stood at Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and the Torah, and in this week's parashah, completed the construction of the Tabernacle — are finally ready for their long years of wandering that will take up the rest of the Torah's narrative.

Continue reading.

Vayakhel - Shabbat Shekalim

Posted on February 25th, 2019

Exodus 35:1–38:20

By Beth Kalisch for  

Finding Holiness in the Rare Leopard as well as the Common Bird


"I hope you are excited for the birds!" our guide said to us.
We had just arrived in Tanzania for a safari, and suddenly, I was concerned that we had been assigned to the wrong jeep. "Oh, we're not birdwatchers," I explained. "We came for the regular safari — lions, leopards, rhinos — that sort of thing." I was looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime chance to see some of the rarest and most exotic animals on the planet. Leopards, for example, are famously difficult to spot, and the black rhino is so endangered that there are thought to be only about 5,000 left on the planet.

Continue reading.

Ki Tisa

Posted on February 18th, 2019

Exodus 30:11−34:35

By Rabbi Sarah Bassin for

Can We Have a Relationship with God?


We Jews are good at a lot of things. Talking about God is not one of them. I would even venture to guess that some of us are grateful that our prayers are in Hebrew, so we don’t have to think too hard about what it is that we’re actually saying about God.

It’s less complicated to articulate what we don’t believe. As one of my rabbinic colleagues often tells congregants, “I don’t believe in the same God that you don’t believe in.”

Continue reading.