Monthly Archives: September 2014

A Note on the Origins of the Avinu Malkeinu Prayer—by Matia Kam

A Note on the Origins of the Avinu Malkeinu Prayer
Matia Kam

Avinu Malkeinu
Avinu Malkeinu

Avinu Malkeinu, Our Father our Sovereign, is a special prayer recited on the Days of Awe (and on days of fast). It is customary to recite the prayer in the synagogue, in the morning (Shaharit) and during the afternoon (Minha) service. In most Jewish communities, this prayer is recited standing, as the Holy Ark is open. In Ashkenazi communities the Avinu Malkeinu is not recited on Shabbat, with the exception of Neilah at the end of Yom Kippur when it is included in the service.(1) In Sephardi communities the Avinu Malkeinu is recited on Shabbat though parts of it are also omitted in honor of Shabbat. read more

A D’var Torah on Ha’azinu: La, la, la, la, I’M NOT LISTENING! –by Cathy Harris

A D’var Torah on Ha’azinu: La, la, la, la, I’M NOT LISTENING!
Cathy Harris

Forty long years in the desert. In all those years, we hurt each other, shouted out to God, laughed and loved, delivered babies, grew old, grew up, grew wiser. We learned a lot, yet we yearned for more.

Slowly, over all the years, we sloughed off and shed our enslavement. We became a free people destined for a new life. A life in the promised land, in Israel.

And now here we stand. So close! The water flowing by, glinting in the sun. Shielding our eyes, looking across to the other side of the Jordan. read more

Gleaning Buckeyes—by Barbara D. Holender

Gleaning Buckeyes
Barbara D. Holender

Pay no attention to that gray-haired woman
kicking around under the chestnut trees.
She has been gleaning buckeyes
fifty years from these same trees
on this same campus,
sorting the squirrels’ leavings,
stomping them from their burrs.
How they gleam–the good grain
spreading from the stem scars
five, six shades of wood.

Nevermind the children are long grown,
the grandkids past these outings.
She is the schoolgirl ever Octobering,
glossing her harvest with remembering thumbs. read more

Thoughts on Scotland—by Peter Eisenstadt

Thoughts on Scotland
Peter Eisenstadt

I don’t know how I feel about Scottish independence. On the one hand, why not? Why shouldn’t the principle of self-determination and sovereignty, which has been extended to 206 or so nations around the world, not include Scotland, with its thousand years of history? Why should Scotland be forever tied to England? On the other hand, why? What will Scotland really gain that it currently lacks? Should this permanent divorce be decided on current political issues, which by their very nature, are ephemeral? What are the causes, the burning issues, that require a separation? And how will this separation work? If Scotland keeps the pound sterling and the queen, as the Scottish Nationalist Party has pledged to do, what, really does independence mean? read more

God’s Gentleman–by Barbara D.Holender

God’s Gentleman
Barbara D.Holender

I wear his battered hat, his bolo tie.
The family album shows my eyes
and mouth are his, his are my crooked fingers
tracing the spidery script of his last letter–
Dearest No. 1 child…

God’s gentleman, the rabbi called him,
and quick-witted, a caring man
whose outer and inner selves were one.
The whole congregation saw me nodding, smiling,
as the words gave my father back to me.

In his name, a Biblical garden
blooms in Arizona. I see my creators
in the cool of the day, walking to and fro.
My father bends to console my mother.
Me too, I say. read more

A Jewish Grandma’s Thoughts About Climate Change–By Deborah L.R. Kornfeld

A Jewish Grandma’s Thoughts About Climate Change
Deborah L.R. Kornfeld

On a sunny day, after an evening rainfall, you might find me in the garden pulling weeds, solving problems, worrying, and dreaming. I wasn’t always able to spend time in the garden. We had years and years where we were so busy with work and children we barely had time to breathe. Now our children have grown, married and we are enjoying the bonus and blessing of grandchildren. I am a safta and as a safta I worry about the world I am leaving to my grandchildren. read more

Ben Gurion: The Book of Jonah and the Value of a Human Being–by Matia Kam

Ben Gurion: The Book of Jonah and the Value of a Human Being
Matia Kam

Jonah stamp 1963 courtesy of wikipedia

The book of Jonah is read as the Haftrah on the afternoon of Yom Kippur prior to the Minhah service. The book of Jonah illustrates God’s compassion for every living thing—human and nonhuman—and therefore reflects the special meaning of the Days of Awe. Unlike other festivals, the High Holy Days are not national celebration but are days of judgment of humans and the world—all that inhabit the world and its nations as well. Thus High Holy Days have a two-fold aspect: a general, universal aspect as well as a particular and interpersonal one. They highlight the standing of both the individual and the community (tzibur) before God, as seen in the actions of the people of Nineveh and of Jonah in the whale—in prayer, in repentance and in hopes for mercy, compassion and forgiveness. read more

Reexamining the NFL Response to Domestic Violence: Why is No One Listening to Janay Rice?—By Ahavya Deutsch

Reexamining the NFL Response to Domestic Violence:
Why is No One Listening to Janay Rice?
Ahavya Deutsch

Domestic violence is complicated because victims may not want to end their relationship with the abusers, or to see him/her prosecuted.

As a victim advocate, I see my role as restoring power to the victim by listening to what she tells me she wants (although I try to tell them my concerns and lay out their options). Ultimately, the victims must make their own decision, because they are the one who must live with the consequences of their actions. Once that decision is made, I try not to judge a victim who has made a decision I don’t agree with, since the victim has more information than I do about their circumstances. read more

TORAH—by Barbara D. Holender

Barbara D. Holender

Even when you hold it in your arms
you have not grasped it.
Wrapped and turned in upon itself
the scroll says, Not yet.

Even when you take them into your eyes
you have not seen them; elegant
in their crowns the letters stand aloof.

Even when you taste them in your mouth
and roll them on your tongue
or bite the sharp unyielding strokes
they say, Not yet.

And when the sounds pour from your throat
and reach deep into your lungs for breath,
even then the words say, Not quite.

But when your heart knows its own hunger
and your mind is seized and shaken,
and in the narrow space between the lines
your soul builds its nest, read more