Have You Had a “Good” Year?: End of the Year Giving

December 29, 2013

As the-end-of-the-year solicitations flood the inbox, this season offers an opportunity for us to consider the Jewish values behind the righteous giving–the tzedakah–we choose to do.

A Yiddush story:  A wealthy Jewish citizen named Reb Yitzchak is preparing his daughter’s wedding.  Reflecting the ethos of the shtetl, all the poorest members of the community, including those who beg for tzedakah in the marketplace, are to be honored guests at the celebration.

However, this time the poor are tired of being taken for granted.  This group of shnorrers (not a nice word—story’s word, not mine) will not be paid off by one hot meal and lip service about how beloved they are.  These men and women take a stand—by going on strike! Read the rest of this entry »

The Burning Bush: The Fire Within

December 27, 2013

In his D’var Torah last Shabbat, Rabbi Kuhn challenged us to wrestle with the question: what is my purpose?

At the end of each book of Torah, there is a gap, a space.  There is a legend that the white spaces in Torah are known as “white fire,” and the words of Torah are written in “black fire.”  There is an extra amount of white fire between each book.  So, last week we completed the study of the Book of Genesis, and tonight we begin anew with our study of the Book of Exodus.  The extra space between Genesis and Exodus can represent a pause, a time for us to stop and think about our lives, and a chance to change, and to consider the meaning of our lives. Read the rest of this entry »

You and I Won’t Recognize Our Grandchildren

December 17, 2013

With this week’s Torah portion, the book of Genesis comes to an end. Both Jacob and Joseph, and the Egyptian rulers who knew them, pass away, setting up the story of slavery and Exodus coming in the next chapter of our story.

Joseph learns that Jacob’s death is near, and he goes to see his father, with his sons Ephraim and Menasseh. Jacob recounts to Joseph the promises God made to Jacob, and he informs Joseph that he is adopting Joseph’s sons, whom he mentions by name, so they will have a full portion of the inheritance Jacob leaves to his sons. Jacob is well aware that Joseph’s sons were born to Joseph and an Egyptian mother and that they are growing up in Egypt, yet he feels so strongly tied to them he claims them as his own. However, after saying all of this to Joseph, Jacob does not recognize his grandsons Ephraim and Menasseh, standing next to Joseph. He has to ask “Who are these?”

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s A Jewish Comic Strip

December 12, 2013

Edge City Comics

Terry & Patty LaBan will talk about their comic strip, Edge City, on Sunday, December 15th from 10:15-11:15 AM at Rodeph Shalom
Edge City is a ground-breaking comic strip about a hip, Jewish-American family juggling relationships, careers, and tradition at the fast-pace of modern life. During our Sunday Seminar, Terry and Patty LaBan will talk about their characters, the history of their comic and how they create it. They will emphasize the Jewish content of the strip, their intent behind it, how to present it, and how it fits in the pop culture continuum. Edge City has been running in the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as other papers, for 12 years.

Our Teenager Wrestling with Her Judaism

December 4, 2013

Check out our wonderful NFTY leader and youth-grouper, Audrey Fein’s D’var Torah!  http://blogs.rj.org/nfty/2013/11/30/nfty-par-how-do-you-wrestle-with-your-judaism/