Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art: A Journey to Your Soul

April 29, 2011

To read Ahron Weiner’s own words about his photographs, click here.

Have you walked into RS’ Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art in the last few weeks? The new PMJA show, “Next Year in Uman: A Journey to the Ukraine,” by Ahron Weiner, exhibits photographs of Jewish men who have made Rosh Hashanah Pilgrimage to Uman in the Ukraine, to the site of Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav’s grave. As these photographs make clear, the spiritual pilgrimage happens within an Orthodox context. The beauty of these photographs lies in their subjects, who have traveled far and wide in search of spiritual community and closeness with God. The danger of the photographs is that one could misinterpret the message to be saying: This is what spiritual quest looks like; a spiritual journey is for men who look very different from you.  Read the rest of this entry »

Liberation Then and Liberation Now: Social Justice Reading for Your Seder

April 18, 2011

The American Jewish World Service invites you to incorporate this reading into your Seder as you drink the first glass of wine.

On Passover, we celebrate our redemption from slavery and revel in our freedom: we gather around the Seder table with our loved ones, telling stories of our people’s miraculous passage from Egypt, to Sinai, to the Promised Land. At this time of rejoicing, we also remember the great responsibility that freedom creates: to harness the power of our privilege on behalf of the oppressed and marginalized. Read the rest of this entry »

Lift Every Voice and Sing

April 13, 2011

By Fred Strober, RS President

I’m the first to admit it: I have a horrible singing voice. It’s easier for me to carry a 100 pound sack of flour than it is to carry a tune. You may not want to be near me when I sing. Your first instinct may be to move a few feet away once I’ve started. Read the rest of this entry »

V’Achalta, V’Savata, u’Verachata: You shall eat, you shall be satisfied and you shall bless God.

April 12, 2011

V’Achalta, V’Savata, u’Verachata
You shall eat, you shall be satisfied and you shall bless God.
—Birkat HaMazon, the traditional Jewish blessing after the meal.

Jewish meals unite us—whether it’s a Passover Seder at home or a Shabbat dinner here at Rodeph Shalom. Food, rituals around food, distinctions about what’s “kosher” whether defined according to Jewish law or to other ethical standards, is a defining feature of our religion, tradition and culture.

So, when we sit down to eat what we serve and how we serve it matters. I believe that we should approach the daily act of feeding ourselves and our communities with the kind of sanctity, satisfaction and gratitude our tradition celebrates. And believe me, in the age of industrial agriculture and in our increasingly “flat world,” this is not as easy as it seems. We do our best to provide nutritious meals to our children, our families, and our seniors. And yet, when we hand over a Styrofoam plate heaped with steaming industrial processed red meat, slaughtered by underpaid laborers and stewed in tomatoes imported from who-knows-where, we can’t help but be nagged by the uncomfortable question, is this really “kosher?”

The word “kosher” means “fit” – and Jews have been evaluating what food is “fit” for them to eat for thousands of years. While traditional forms of keeping kosher (no pork, shellfish or milk and meat together) may be important to some, I see an opportunity to expand your consideration of what food is “fit” to eat based on how it was grown, where it was grown, and the effects of its production on the people who do the work and the land where it is produced. This new movement is often referred to as “eco-kashrut.”

Read the rest of this entry »