These past few weeks, our pandemically traumatized nation was further shaken to its core by the death of George Floyd and the resurfacing of the centuries-old plague of systemic racism. "I can't breathe" wrenched our hearts as protesters took to the streets to demand justice and affirm that black lives matter. Jelani Cobb writes:
"The shock of revelation that attended the video of Floyd's death is itself a kind of inequality, a barometer of the extent to which one group of Americans have moved through life largely free from the burden of such terrible knowledge."
When I was in elementary school, I was given an assignment to interview one of my grandparents about World War II. I chose to interview my Poppy Joe, who I knew had served in the army during that time, though I knew little else. We sat down in my grandparents’ kitchen and he told me all about how he flew planes over Burma. He had immigrated to the United States from Poland at 7 years old, and he was so proud to have served his country. And I was so proud to hear his story! I knew him as a small business owner who loved swing music and a good joke, and I had no idea about his military history. The interview revealed a completely new side of my grandfather to me, and I still treasure the recording of it to this day.
Over these past few months, it has quickly become a daily ritual in cities around the world to step outside and applaud the essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a small but meaningful way to honor those who are risking their lives for the health, safety and well-being of others. Countless YouTube videos show people cheering, singing, clapping, honking and singing in appreciation, and it is truly beautiful to watch.
We are living in one of the most interesting eras for Israeli politics.
Like a bad TV reunion (I'm looking at you, Fuller House), Israel is yet again moving fast towards an election—the third in one year—and it is very confusing, even for Israelis.
One of the greatest joys of the High Holiday season is getting to spend time with family and friends. On the holiday of Sukkot, we have the added bonus of spending that time outdoors, in the temporary dwelling of a sukkah.
Every Yom Kippur, as the sun is setting and the holy day is nearing its end, we sing this prayer:
Petach lanu sha’ar,
Beit neilah sha’ar,
ki fanah yom.
Open the gates for us,
At this time when they are closing,
For the day is coming to an end.
Hosting guests in our homes can often feel like an overwhelming task. We need to devise a menu, shop for ingredients, cook a meal, and clean up. On the holiday of Passover, hosting can be even more daunting because there is the added element of planning and leading a Seder. And yet, opening our homes is one of the most significant and impactful ways to observe Passover.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
– Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King
The Torah teaches that all that existed prior to creation was ‘darkness on the face of the waters.’ (Genesis 1:2) God then says, “let there be light” and there was light. In this moment, we learn that it is words that drive out darkness and bring light into the world.
The holiday of Hanukkah is all about transforming the darkness into light. We do this in several ways. First, we are commanded to light candles at the darkest time of the year. In addition, we increase the amount of light each night of the holiday. Finally, we light in the most public of places possible, at the time darkness sets in, so that everyone can witness the light in the dark. But these traditions are not the end goal; they are meant to spark a commitment within us to bring more light into existence.
The period of time from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is called Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, or, the Ten Days of Repentance. This is an especially contemplative time, when we reflect on the past year and consider how we can be our best selves in the year to come.
To help in this process, we invite you to enjoy a video from Rabbi Ariel Sholklapper, in which he teaches a simple yet meaningful practice that can help us start the new year with a heightened awareness and appreciation of what surrounds us each day.
Got 4 weeks? How about 6, 8, 10 or 12? No matter your schedule or interest, we’ve got a class for you.
If you’ve always wanted to explore your Jewish roots and discover what they can mean to you as an adult, now is the time to do it! Our Bobbi and Vic Samuels Center for Jewish Living & Learning (CJLL) is proud to be a hub of pluralistic adult Jewish learning classes, bringing together students and faculty from various synagogues and other institutions in the Houston community.