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  1. Shema’ (Part 1)—What We Know and What We Don’t

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on April 25, 2014 in Jewish Practice

    Ask almost any group of Jews to identify the most important Jewish “prayer” of all, and at the top of the list will almost certainly be the Shema’. Technically, it is not a prayer, for it is not addressed to God, but to the community of Israel. Bu ...

    stasch - April 10, 2014

  2. Time and Eternity in Shabbat Services (Part 1)

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on March 11, 2014 in Jewish Practice

    I remember well a warning from one of my teachers in rabbinical school (for me, the Leo Baeck College in London). We were discussing Shabbat morning services, and the warning was to young(ish) rabbis and rabbinical students that if we “indulge our ...

    cldemesier - March 13, 2014

  3. On Doubt and Prayer (Part 4): “Soul” of Prayer

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on February 19, 2014 in Jewish Practice

    In the preliminary section of the morning service, the siddur guides us through some of the most basic concepts of our existence. We ask each day, “ Mah anu? Meh chayeinu? ” (Who are we? What are our lives?), and I confess that I always wonder i ...

    cldemesier - February 20, 2014

  4. The Tabernacle: Divinity and Practicality

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on January 29, 2014 in Jewish Practice

    Parashat Terumah opens dramatically with a building campaign. God commands Moses to solicit an array of colorful materials and gifts with an eye toward building a Tabernacle. It is this space that will contain the Presence of God in the midst of t ...

    cldemesier - January 29, 2014

  5. On Doubt (Part 1)

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on January 22, 2014 in Jewish Practice

    There are many texts found in the siddur that are not easily planted in our mouths, minds, hearts, and souls. For example, how might a person say with integrity, “My God, the soul You have given me is pure” ( Siddur Sim Shalom for Weekdays , 4), ...

    cldemesier - January 22, 2014

  6. Shabbat Eve (Part 3): “Sit in the Dark, or Light Candles”

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on January 15, 2014 in Jewish Practice

    Lighting candles at home (and in some synagogues) is a deeply rooted practice among the Jewish people all over the world. A pair of candlesticks is often identified as among the most precious (Jewish) possessions of a family, and many people speak ...

    cldemesier - January 15, 2014

  7. Shabbat Eve (Part 2): Shabbat Angels—Blessings or . . .

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on January 9, 2014 in Jewish Practice

    “ Shalom aleikhem ” is a traditional greeting exchanged upon encountering a friend or acquaintance, and also the opening phrase of the familiar song chanted around the Shabbat table before Friday night kiddush ( Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat ...

    cldemesier - January 9, 2014

  8. The Many Languages of Torah

    Commentary by Rabbi Mordecai Schwartz on January 3, 2014 in Jewish Practice

    Sometimes basic questions are the hardest to answer. For example, I know that one plus one equals two, but when asked to prove it logically, I may struggle a bit before I can express it. Here’s another question that you can use to throw rabbis for ...

    cldemesier - April 4, 2014

  9. What’s Jewish about Jewish Leadership?

    Commentary by Marc Gary on December 16, 2013 in Jewish Practice

    A few years back, I was sitting in a class for prospective leaders of the Jewish community and yawning. Although the class was organized by a prestigious Jewish institution and gathered together an invitation-only group of accomplished men and wom ...

    cldemesier - December 16, 2013

  10. Shabbat Eve (Part 1): Metaphors of Marriage

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on December 16, 2013 in Jewish Practice

    Many are familiar with the custom of chanting the last chapter of Proverbs ( Eishet Hayil ; A Woman of Valor) as part of the ritual for those gathered around the table for Shabbat dinner on Friday night. ...

    cldemesier - December 16, 2013