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  1. Yom Hasho'ah: Documents from the JTS Library and Songs by Johanna Spector

    Audio by JTS on May 5, 2014 in History

    ABOUT THE PROGRAM Dr. Johanna Spector (1915–2008), who taught Ethnomusicology at JTS, was a Holocaust survivor who documented Jewish music from around the world. This special Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration will highlight her life and work, as well a ...

    stasch - May 5, 2014

  2. Slivers of Memory (Yom Ha-sho’ah V’-ha-gevurah)

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on May 2, 2014 in History

    Several decades ago, many ceremonies commemorating the Shoah attempted to tell the entirety of the story, with numbers that defied comprehension and broad-sweeping trends of history that submerged the experience of individuals in the story of a world run ...

    stasch - April 30, 2014

  3. “This Year We Are Slaves”: How and Why Do We Celebrate Freedom in the Face of Oppression?

    Commentary by Rabbi Eliezer Diamond on April 18, 2014 in History

    What does it mean to celebrate Passover in the shadow of death? I ask this question for two reasons. First, I am awed but also mystified by those who celebrated the festival of freedom in the gulags and death camps. Why did they not see such a celebration ...

    stasch - April 11, 2014

  4. Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation

    Audio by JTS on January 29, 2014 in History

    Dr. Jonathan Rieder delves deeper than anyone before into Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," illuminating both its timeless message and crucial position in the history of civil rights. Dr. Rieder has interviewed Dr ...

    cldemesier - May 5, 2014

  5. A Lesson in Interreligious Dialogue

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on January 15, 2014 in History

    If one were asked to identify the most central parashah to Israelite identity and to Judaism, one would certainly point to Parashat Yitro, which describes the moment of revelation at Sinai. This experience transforms a band of former slaves into a “kingdo ...

    cldemesier - January 15, 2014

  6. Exodus 18: The Proverbial Visit of the In-Laws

    Commentary by Rabbi Robert Harris on January 15, 2014 in History

    “Come and listen to my story ’bout a man named... Jethro!” OK, I will admit it: when as a young teenager and first really learning Torah in my post–bar mitzvah stage, every time I heard the name “Jethro” in the Exodus narrative, I thought first about Jeth ...

    cldemesier - January 16, 2014

  7. Out of the Darkness, into the Light

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on January 3, 2014 in History

    As Parashat Bo opens, the intransigence of Pharaoh increases as well as the determination of God, Moses, and Aaron. Pharaoh’s heart ossifies, and God brings the wrath of the final plagues upon the Egyptians. And although it is the death of the firstborn t ...

    cldemesier - April 4, 2014

  8. A Lesson in Empowering Leaders

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on December 27, 2013 in History

    Moses’s intransigence continues in this week’s parashah as our prophet continues to resist his prophetic role. In response to Moses’s self deprecation (referring to himself as “one of impeded speech” (Exod. 6:30), God seeks to bolster Moses’s self-confide ...

    cldemesier - April 4, 2014

  9. Divine Compassion

    Commentary by Rabbi Julia Andelman on December 27, 2013 in History

    The biblical book that we began last week—Shemot—is known in English as Exodus, a name that highlights one of the key dramatic episodes of the book. But its Hebrew name, Shemot, means “names.” The names of the five books of the Torah and the parashiyot wi ...

    cldemesier - April 4, 2014

  10. Understanding the Burning Bush

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on December 16, 2013 in History

    This week’s parashah, Shemot, begins the saga of the enslavement of the Israelites in the land of Egypt. After waxing great and becoming a fifth column, a new pharaoh “who did not know Joseph” takes severe steps to oppress and ultimately enslave the forei ...

    cldemesier - December 16, 2013