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Israel

By Professor Arnold M. Eisen | Chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary

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Portions of the Torah sometimes come to greet us with a timeliness, even an urgency, that seems positively breathtaking. How did the Torah know that we would need to hear this message—this one and not another—and to hear it right now: this week, this year, and not some other time? Snow is falling heavily in Denver as I write—the snow arriving much later in the year than usual—and a tropical storm is making itself felt in the Carolinas, much earlier in the year than usual.

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JTS hosts a discussion featuring:

  • J.J. Goldberg, Jewish Daily Forward editor-at-large
  • Jonathan Tobin, Commentary senior online editor and chief political blogger
  • Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, Cofounder and codirector of Resetting the Table: Open Conversations on Israel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs

 

Once a great source of unity and pride for American Jews, Israel now often leads to impassioned conflict, heated debate, and even alienation within our community.

By Dr. Ismar Schorsch | Chancellor Emeritus of The Jewish Theological Seminary and Professor of Jewish History

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Sold into slavery at the age of 17, Joseph attained the post of vizier of Egypt by the time he was 30. That would have been a remarkable feat by a native; for a foreigner, it simply boggles the mind. Only Pharaoh stood between him and absolute power. Joseph had deciphered Pharaoh's premonition of catastrophe and urged decisive action on a national scale. And Pharaoh rewarded the messenger by appointing him to carry out his own counsel. He also bestowed upon him all the trappings of power, including an arranged marriage with the daughter of an Egyptian priest.

During the ensuing seven years of

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A Discussion with Author Mike Kelly
Award-winning columnist at the(Bergen) Record and author of Color Lines and Fresh Jersey

The Bus on Jaffa Road explores the 1996 incident that took the lives of JTS student Matthew Eisenfeld (z”l) and his fiancée, Sara Duker (z”l), and the couple’s legacy.

Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Pearl Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School and dean of the Division of Religious Leadership, served as moderator.

By Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz | Director of Israel Programs, The Rabbinical School, JTS

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At the opening of Parashat Nitzavim, the Israelites stand rooted before Moses and God. A captive and diverse audience, they are recipients of a message that is both immediate and transcendent in nature. They are told, “I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here today before the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here this day” (Deut. 29:13). In addition, the Israelites “enter into the covenant . . . to the end that God establishes . . . as God promised to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Deut.

By Dr. Alisa Braun | Academic Director, Community Engagement, JTS

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“If it doesn’t rain, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” commented a NASA water-cycle scientist recently on the drought that has been devastating California. With rainfall and reservoirs at historically low levels, the state’s farm owners and laborers are increasingly faced with dire choices: What percentage of their fields will they have to leave fallow? How many farmhands and migrant workers will have to be laid off? At what point should one give up—uproot one’s family, move on, and do something else? As the drought intensifies, so do the feelings of uncertainty.

By Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz | Director of Israel Programs, The Rabbinical School, JTS

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Parashat Eikev deals heavily with the theme of entering and securing the Land of Israel. Multiple blessings are part and parcel of entry into the Promised Land. The people are promised a “good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains” (Deut. 8:7) and one that is replete with seven species (wheat, barley, dates, pomegranates, figs, olives, and grapes; 8:8). But those blessings are dependent on the observance of the mitzvot and the loyalty of the Israelites.

By Dr. Stephen Garfinkel | Associate Provost and Assistant Professor of Bible and Its Interpretation

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Is the author of this week’s Torah reading, Parashat Devarim, or the author of the entire book of Devarim (Deuteronomy, the last of the five books of the Torah), not paying attention? Or, perhaps, does the author think we have not been paying attention to what we have read or heard in the Torah’s previous several books? The book of Deuteronomy is a retelling of much of what precedes it in the Torah. (In fact, the name Deuteronomy has come to mean “second telling” or “second law,” based on an extrapolated interpretation of the phrase mishneh Torah in Deuteronomy 17:18. There, in context, it

By Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz | Director of Israel Programs, The Rabbinical School, JTS

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Reflections from Israel on the Rabbinical Assembly–Masorti Solidarity Mission to the South, 2014

The past month has been a time of great emotion and tension for those of us living in Israel. From the moment that Naftali Fraenkel (z”l), Gilad Sha’ar (z”l), and Eyal Yifrach (z”l) were kidnapped, there was a sense of foreboding that overtook the country. And, tragically, it seems there is little hope on the horizon for a conflict that has been forced upon the State of Israel.

By Rabbi Samuel Barth | Senior Lecturer in Liturgy and Worship

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A serious challenge confronting the all-too-human venture of praying to God is in working out what we can say to the “One Who knows all.” A prayer for a congregation to recite in the face of destructive storms might open with the words, “God, we stand before you in time of peril”—but if God truly knows all, might we not assume that God is well aware of the peril facing the community? So the words are not, so to speak, necessary for the message directed to God, but they are certainly important for the community: in saying the words together, their hearts and souls join together, recognizing

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