The author, the National Jewish Educator for Avodah, originally wrote this for the Avodah Service Corps. The Festival of Sukkot is about closure. It arrives
The Torah gives just one unique commandment for Rosh HaShanah, to hear the sound of the Shofar, producing that raw, emotionally complex, array of sounds
by Aryeh Bernstein This devar torah for Parashat Ki Tavo and Labor Day was first written internally for the Avodah Service Corps, for which the
“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” — Final social media post of Charlottesville martyr Heather Heyer; may Hashem avenge her blood. We are
by Jacob Abolafia A picture hung (and perhaps still hangs) in the library of the Conservative synagogue where I spent my first conscious years attending
These two texts challenge us to pay close attention to the power dynamics involved in a hegemonic body adopting cultural products of a subordinate group. Sometimes erasure comes through restricting the minority practice of its own culture, as in Antiochus’s later persecution, which we marked on Chanukah. But sometimes erasure comes through cultural appropriation, depending on a subordinate group to create culture, and then taking it and turning it from culture to artifact, from lifeline to epitaph.
Alas! Alone she sits, vacant lots, empty streets
Abandoned by companions, absent lovers to greet.
Bustling communities pushed out, in retreat
Bereft remnants blamed for their woes.
In 2008 the Conservative Movement directed Jewish institutions to hire union labor. But the Jewish Theological Seminary is breaking its own teshuva.
While I appreciate the Senate’s gesture and statement, I am also distrustful. Throughout history, the main way anti-Semitism has functioned has been for people in true positions of power to pick off the Jews to use as their scapegoats, fig leaves and shields to protect them from opposition from the main targets of their exploitation and oppression. They want to divide us Jews from other, oppressed, minority communities, making us unsympathetic of their correct claims of abuse by the power structures, until such a point that minority communities direct their rage at the more accessible Jews, rather than at the true, deep sources of their oppression. This has happened for centuries, and it’s happening right now. We Jews have to resist being played as pawns in this way and maintain our solidarity with all oppressed communities, even as we take responsible measures to protect ourselves.
Making instruments takes time. That means that during Egyptian captivity, before seeing the shocking slaying of the first born or the wondrous parting of the sea, during the dark hour of oppression, these women played the long game, banked on liberation, believed that it was coming, and prepared for it painstakingly. Victory does not come just through playing defense against crisis, but, even in hours much darker than ours, playing a long game to win.