I would like to try to understand the essence of this day by way of one of Judaism’s oldest, most resilient, most beloved and most reviled prayers: U’Netanah Tokef, the early-Musaf journey into fear and trembling, human powerlessness, and the most desperate plea for Divine mercy.
“Division Ave.” is a film-in-progress about a young Mexican woman and her Hasidic client and their unexpected connection that leads to a fight for justice.
As we prepare for Tisha B’Av, thinking of all the ways people continue to see their cities ravaged by bloodshed and dislocation, it may be helpful to round up some poignant Tisha B’Av pieces from years past on this site.
For the love of God, the 5-foot Minnesotan symbol of American depravity has cut to the essence of the problem of sin: It is loneliness. When I sin against U, I am ruptured & alienated from U; from the suppressed, best, true version of myself; from humanity; & from God, the 1 Who always sees me in my potential goodness, no matter how far and how persistently I stray. This is the deepest loneliness. Dealing with guilt and brokenness is at its core about treating our alienation and restoring solidarity, about reviving the truth that we are 1 with our fellow humans and with our best potential.
Well, that was awkward.
Just a few days after announcing that it had hired Simone Zimmerman to be its national Jewish outreach coordinator, the Bernie Sanders campaign suspended her position yesterday, in reaction to loud, right-wing criticism of her positions, activism, and language in opposing the Israeli occupation and its enablers. I had planned yesterday to take on her chorus of critics for their ethically compromised and sometimes farcical gotcha-combing of Zimmerman’s very public and proud paper trail. Now, I must add some serious, head-shaking, profound disappointment in the Sanders campaign for what really looks like management amateur hour.
Tonight…the 5th of Adar, is the 20th yahrzeit of Sara Duker and Matt Eisenfeld, z”l, budding young scholars and idealists who were killed in a Hamas bus bombing in Jerusalem at ages 22 and 25, respectively….Their rich, elegant, delicate, supple manifestation of love of Torah and cultivation of intentional personalities of kindness, joy, endless responsibility, and empathic curiosity left an indelible imprint on many of us who have tended integrated lives of Torah, feminism, and social responsibility. In time for the yahrzeit, my brother, Rabbi Edward Bernstein, Matt’s classmate in yeshiva and JTS rabbinical school, published a precious new volume of Matt and Sara’s…Jewish writing…Entitled Love Finer than Wine: The Writings of Matthew Eisenfeld and Sara Duker, it gives a deep, broad, and intimate picture of two pioneering young Jewish adults and spiritual personalities whose young lives a generation ago blazed the trail for much of the best of today’s Jewish landscape. For this 20th yahrzeit, I am posting here a piece I wrote ten years ago and circulated among friends for the 10th yahrzeit, which also coincided with Parashat Terumah. May their memory be a blessing.
Serial sex-abuser and spiritual chameleon rabbi, Marc (Mordechai) Gafni has emerged again into the public arena, and Jewish communal leaders are circulating a petition, calling on Whole Foods to withdraw its financial and institutional support for the self-described “visionary thinker, social activist, passionate philosopher”.
HIAS is circulating a letter to be signed by American rabbis, “call[ing] on our elected officials to exercise moral leadership for the protection of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.”
We at Jewschool are proud to provide a platform for excellent writing from a progressive Jewish perspective and we’re delighted when our writers get the
“Today is the conception of the world. Today, [God] makes it stand in judgment, perhaps as children, perhaps as slaves.” — “היום הרת עולם. היום יעמיד במשפט, אם