Thursday, June 30, 2005

Weekly Torah Portion - Korach 5765

This week's parashah, Korah, tells the story of rebellion against leadership. Korach leads a group to foment rebellion against Moses and Aaron. Their rebellion does not go well, to put it mildly.

What do we learn from this rebellion?
Rabbi Offel reflects on the "Balancing the Individual and the Communal"

Rav Kook writes on the role of Priestly Leadership in ancient and modern days in his drash Korach: Who Needs the Priesthood?

Go and Learn!!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Loss of a Great Scholar of Our Time

Shavuah tov. I just returned home from a wedding and teaching - a day full of joy, love and the promise of goodness in what is often a challenging world. The chatan and kallah (groom and bride) beamed, soaked up the love and joy surrounding them and had a great time. The party is problably still going on at the house. (This chatan and kallah decided that after the formal reception, they would invite people back to her (now their) home and enjoy their out-of-town and in-town friends and family. A wonderful, beautiful, joyous day.

Then, I come home, turn on the computer and look at the New York Times for the first time all day. It is my custom to look at the obituaries and thus I learned of the death of a great scholar and teacher, Rabbi Dr. Nahum Sarna. He was a great man, a learned scholar and one whose mind, writings and teachings opened up worlds for many. Amongst his accomplishments is the Jewish Publication Society translation of the Tanach. What a loss for the world. The New York Times obituary includes the following:

Dr. Sarna's writings, commentaries and translations sought to bring the meaning of ancient texts closer to today's lay reader. Some of his most important contributions were made through the Jewish Publication Society, based in Philadelphia, for which he was principal translator and editor of "Torah (New Translation)." First published in 1985, it remains in print.

Some of his other books published by the society were "Genesis: The Traditional Hebrew Text with New JPS Translation" (1989); "JPS: The Americanization of Jewish Culture 1888-1988" (1989); "Exodus: The Traditional Hebrew Text With the New JPS Translation" (1991); and "Studies in Biblical Interpretation" (2000).

Dr. Sarna's work reflected a 19th-century movement devoted to the scientific study of Jewish civilization and a more accessible, modern approach to the Hebrew Bible. His commentaries sought to shed light on the narrative, give meaning to archeological finds, add historical and cultural background and present the Bible's teachings in a spiritual and moral context.

Read the entire obituary here.

May his soul be with the Holy One of Blessing.
May G-d comfort his family among all who mourn.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Tough Day In Israel - But Not Because of Terror

Today has been another difficult day in Israel. This afternoon a truck errantly crossed a track in the path of the Haifa-Be'er Sheva train. Apparently, the truck driver did not follow any of the posted instructions to stop and ignored the train's whistle. The impact careened cars off the track and according to some reports, crushed the first few cars. As of this posting, seven are dead and over 245 injured.

There are various stories in English and Hebrew available on the web. You can find the Ha'aretz English language story here and a Hebrew language Ha'aretz story here.

Recently officials in Israel have issued more frequent cautions and warnings to Israeli motorists of their dangerous driving habits. For example, there was a nation-wide warning issued following some deadly accidents during Passover.

I send my prayers of comfort to those who have lost loved ones and my prayers of healing to all who have been injured. May the Holy One be with each of them and their families.

Honoring a Pilot from Operation Magic Carpet

After the modern State of Israel was founded in 1948, Jews across much of the Arab world were persecuted. The Jews of Yemen suffered attacks, discrimination and threats to their lives. An effort was organized, called Operation Magic Carpet to rescue the Jewish community of Yemen and bring them to safety in Israel. Many people participated in this rescue. (Incidentally, there are some wonderful stories and memories from the Yemenite community themselves about Operation Magic Carpet. I'll look for some links and post, otherwise, check your library.) One of significant figures in this endeavor was Robert F. Maguire, Jr., the chief pilot. Mr. Maguire recently died and his part in Operation Magic Carpet is remembered in a New York Times Obituary. Some excerpts from the obituary include:

"Robert F. Maguire Jr., the chief pilot of Operation Magic Carpet, which evacuated more than 40,000 Jewish refugees from Yemen to the newly created state of Israel between late 1948 and early 1950, died on June 10 at his home in Northridge, Calif. He was 94....Requiring a little more than a year and 380 flights, Operation Magic Carpet evacuated 40,000 to 50,000 Yemenite Jews without loss of life. David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, was reported to have called Mr. Maguire "the Irish Moses." The writer Leon Uris based a character in his 1958 novel, "Exodus," on him....In Operation Magic Carpet, Mr. Maguire relied as much on his wits as on his aviation skills. He once ran out of fuel and was forced to land in Egypt. When airport officials rushed up to the plane, Mr. Maguire ordered them to send ambulances immediately.
"What for?" they asked him.
"I have smallpox on board," Mr. Maguire replied.
He got his fuel, and flew on to Tel Aviv."

You can also read an obituary of him in The Jerusalem Post.

Want to learn more about Operation Magic Carpet?
Take a look at these links:
Jewish Virtual Library information on & picture of Operation Magic Carpet.
Alaskan Airlines on the golden anniversary of Operation Magic Carpet. This profiles some other people involved in the rescue, you can read their words about Mr. Maguire at the bottom.
WZO background and program ideas for Operation Magic Carpet.
A description of Operation Magic Carpet including history on Jews in Yemen.
Photo exhibit on Operation Magic Carpet.
Words of another American pilot, Hank Mullineaux, on Operation Magic Carpet.
Israeli stamp remembering Operation Magic Carpet.
A filmography on Operation Magic Carpet.

Go and Learn!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Biography of a great scholar - Abraham Joshua Heschel

My Jewish Learning has a main article this week on one of my favorite scholars, Abraham Joshua Heschel. Read about his life and his views on: sacred time, Judaism as a Way of Life and the Sabbath.

Go and Learn!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Hag Shavuot Sameach

Hag Shavuot Sameach - Happy Shavuot. May this z'man torateinu, z'man simchateinu (time of joyous receiving of the Torah) be filled with joy, learning and laughter for you and yours.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Updates to Links

Meals for the Hungry & Homeless with Dignity

Today I learned of an amazing restaurant soup kitchen in Jeruslame called Carmei Ha'ir. All who enter sit, dine and relax. When leaving those who can pay, pay. Payment is made to a box by the door. Some put notes of thanks and others put sheckels. Only those touching the box at that moment know who is paying with thanks and who with cash. Amazing, isn't it?

Located on 72 Agrippas in the neighoborhood of Machaneh Yehudah it was begun by Yehuda Azrad, Itzik Levitan, Momi Ben Zruel, Harel Horowitz and David Germiza. Aish reporter Sara Yocheved Rigler writes that they dreamed of creating a soup kitchen "where everyone who enters would receive honor, not just food." She continues, "Even the name embodies their commitment to preserving the dignity of their indigent patrons. They wanted a name which would not smack of charity. Ze'ev Yekutiel, a restaurant consultant and caterer who volunteered the know-how for establishing the restaurant, came up with "Carmei Ha'Ir." In Hebrew, it means simply, "the vineyards of the city," but the inner circle of supporters knows that the word "Carmei" is also an acronym for a line in the prayer of hospitality: "All the hungry will eat from Him." Read the entire Aish article here.

Other sources on this amazing place include:
A Jerusalem Post article, Love at First Bite.
A Christian Science Monitor article, Chef Cooks Up a Grand Social Experiment
Rabbi Mark Kaiserman quotes the owner in a D'var Torah for Parashat Behar, By Your Side

I learned of Carmit Ha'ir from Jerusalem Gypsy who blogs about a recent meal there.

I hope to eat/donate/volunteer there when I'm in Jerusalem later this summer.

Do you want to help support Carmei Ha'ir? According to Aish, send donations to P.O.B. 6084, Jerusalem 91060, Israel. You can also go to their website (in Hebrew) for more information and donations.

Transcript of IDF Radio Traffic on Jerusalem Day 1967

Here is a brief (and belated) post on Jerusalem Day. IsraCast has published an English trasnlation of the IDF radio traffic as the Israeli Army reached the Western Wall of the Temple.

Words echoing moments of joy from our past. I pray that they lead us again to moments of a lasting peace.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Great Religion Websites

Yesterday the Webby Awards were given out in New York. They award sites in a variety of categories, including a religion category. Here are some of the sites which got recognition for religion.

Category winner - Speaking of Faith sponsored by American Public Media

People's voice winner in the category - Spirituality & Health

Nominees (not including those above) were:
Faith Streams (A source of articles and vidoes on various faiths.)
Grace Cathedral, an Episcopal Church.
My Jewish Learning, one of my favorite sites!

See all the Webby Award winners!

By learning about other ways of life, views and faiths, we strengthen ourselves and help bring tikkun olam (repair) to the world.