Esther, Mordechai, and Us, Searching for Our Purpose

February 25, 2010

By Rabbi Jill Maderer

This weekend, celebrate Purim!  Saturday night at 7 pm, at our Purim Shpeil and  Party, adults will come in costume, hear some Megillah, enjoy the shpeil (skit) and party until we can’t distinguish between Mordechai and Haman!  Sunday morning at 9:30 am, at the Purim Carnival, families and children of all ages will hear Megillah, enjoy a shpeil, join a costume parade, and jump on the moonbounce!

Before the silliness begins, let us turn to words of inspiration about how Mordechai, Esther and we, determine our purpose in this world.  In his book, Days of Deliverance, 20th c. thinker Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik z”l explores a discrepancy between the mission assigned to Moses, in the Exodus story, and that assigned to Esther and Mordechai, in the Purim story.  Read the rest of this entry »

International Terrorism: Past, Present and Future Challenges

February 17, 2010

Professor Stephen Sloan explores terrorism in his publication, which you can review by clicking here: “The Evolution of Terrorism as a Global Test of Wills: A Personal Assessment and Perspective”, a personal narrative of his evolution as a scholar of terrorism.  Professor Sloan’s research has spanned the past four decades, to include a coup attempt in Indonesia to the Oklahoma City bombing. He has stood out as a leading thinker on the domestic terrorism threat, the transformation of the international environment as well as the need for the integration of local and national intelligence.

This and next Sunday morning, February 21 and 28, 10:30-11:30 am, join us at Rodeph Shalom for study with RS member Professor Stephen Sloan in our class “International Terrorism: Past, Present and Future Challenges.”

Reform Judaism, Progressive Values and Israel Today

February 12, 2010

This week, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, wrote a letter to his rabbinic colleagues about his recent trip to Israel.  Rabbi Yoffie discusses his wonderful experiences with Reform Jewish youth and rabbinical students in Jerusalem,  the challenge of peace and security in the Middle East and his welcome of the few hopeful voices of hope for negotiations, the recent struggles of the New Israel Fund and of democracy, and the threat of religious extremism for progressive Jews in Israel.  To learn about the recent arson attack on a Conservative synagogue in Arad, please visit ARZA.  Rabbi Yoffie’s letter follows here. Read the rest of this entry »

A View of Urban History from Jewish Philadelphia

February 3, 2010

This introduction to Philadelphia Jewish history comes from Temple University’s Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History and director of the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, Dr. Lila Corwin Berman.  Dr. Berman will speak on this topic at Synaplex Shabbat this Friday night.

On Leaving, Staying, and Returning: A View of Urban History from Jewish Philadelphia, by Lila Corwin Berman
One of the perennial themes of Jewish history and lore is movement.  God commands Abraham lech lecha, “Go away from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.”  Driven by trade, by decree, by economic instability, by violence, by the desire for a better life, Jews have moved.  Some historians and thinkers have argued that the constancy of migration in Jewish life has bred a sense of Jewish detachment from land, territory, and place.  Read the rest of this entry »

Supplementary Security Income & Today’s Economy

February 2, 2010

By Rabbi Michael Holzman

Every year when our elected officials have to pay the bills they make choices.  In a year when tax revenues are way down, they must wrestle with their decisions.  In Pennsylvania, this year, the choices were brutal, and the budget process drawn out.  What finally emerged was grim:  a substantial cut in the state contribution towards Supplemental Security Income. Monica Yant-Kinney reported this on January 24, 2010.  So, in case you are keeping score, in the same year that President Obama is cutting 47% of the federal contribution towards unemployment and 25% towards child support, the state of Pennsylvania is cutting their share by 20-25% as well.  All of this in a down economy, which means these funds are more necessary than ever before. Read the rest of this entry »