Thursday, July 28, 2005

Weekly Torah Portion - Mattot

This week's Torah portion is Mattot, the penultimate portion in Numbers. Mattot includes instructions on and lists of vows. The vows we utter, the words we say all have power. How does Judaism encurage us to think about our words? Here are links to commentaries which address this question as it resonates from our parashah (portion).

My Word by Rabbi Andrea Lerner of the University of Wisconsin Hillel Foundation.

Rabbi Rebecca Gutterman examines vows Broken & Made.

Rav Kook writes about vows and their impact on our emotions and intellect in his drash Mattot, Keeping Vows.

Go and Study!
Wishing all shalom, salaam, peace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More Pain and Anguish

More pain and anguish reside in lives today. There has been a devastating train accident in Pakistan and a suicide bombing in Iraq killing over 24 children.

When is the world going to learn that war perpetrates war and hate perpetrates hate?

Wishing all shalom, salaam and peace.

Inspiring Story

Dr. Barry Melnik, an Israeli doctor on vacation in London, heard one of the explosions in the underground last Thursday and rushed to the scene to help. Read his inspiring and courageous story on Israel 21c.

May each of us find ways to step forward and act heroically in difficult times.

Shalom, salaam, peace.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Oh No, Not Again

More terror in Israel. A suicide bomber detonated outside a mall in Netanya today. 3 [Update on 7/13/05 - the number is now sadly 4] people are already known to be dead and about 24 90 injured.

More hate and death. I just don't understand it.

Here are some links to news stories:
Ha'aretz (English)
New York Times

May G-d be with all.

Example of Diversity in Competition

Today there was a nice example of diversity during the Maccabiah Games (a world-wide olympic-style competition) in Israel.

The 17th Maccabiah Games opened this week with a sterling example of Israel's democratic values. An Israeli Arab teenage girl from the town of Sakhnin became the first gold medalist in this year's Games with a victory on Sunday in the women's 200-meter breastroke.

Asalla Shahada, 17, won the race in 2:46.93 after a close battle with Lauren Fox (USA), who trailed behind by 21 hundreths of a second.

"The Maccabiah belongs not only to all the Jews, but also to all the Israelis, and I am a proud Israeli," Shahada told YnetNews.

Read the full story on Israel21c

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Thought or Two on Wild Weather

Wild weather - tropical storms, hurricanes, tornados, fire-storms, blizzards, floods are sadly all too common around the world. We here in the USA were focused on Hurricane (now tropical storm) Dennis for the past few days (and those who are and will get flooding rains from the storm will continue to be focused on it).

Such weather can prompt questions of "why does G-d do this to us" or "why to those on the gulf coast again, so soon after Ivan" or "why do we have such violent weather?" Clearly there is no definitive answer. Many things seem to factor in - how we treat the planet (weather cycles have a GREAT deal to do with what we put into the atmosphere, ground water and etc [remember the rain cycle from elementary school?]), the long-term time schedule of our planet (human time, earth time and Divine time are clearly not the same), and G-d G-dself.

We find many stories in biblical and rabbinic literature related to weather - the flood at the time of Noah, the prayers for rain by Akiva during drought (which are directly connected to the format of some High Holy Day prayers) and other stories. In both the story of Noah and Akiva (let me know if you want more details of either), humans interact with the planet and with G-d and there are consequences. Just as G-d long ago promised not to flood the entire earth all at once, we humans have our own end of the promise - to not be absorbed in blood, warfare and base human instincts and to take care of the earth.

Can we control the weather, of course not. Do our actions contribute? I belive that both science and Judaism say yes.

May all of those affected by violent weather find strength, courage and hope in a difficult time.
May each of us learn to take responsibility for the world's physical (and spiritual) health.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Another New Link

Through site-meter, I found Contemplative Activist, an interesting looking blog. Read and enjoy.

Shalom, salaam, peace,

Weekly Torah Portion - Khukat 5765

One of the topics of this week's parashah is the famous story of Moses striking, rather than speaking to the rock. Becuase of this and Moses' murder of the Egyptian task master, he does not gain entry to the Holy Land. This situation provokes many questions. Rabbi David Teutsch shares one response in his drash published by the UJC project Mekor Chaim.

Go and Learn!

Helping those with Addictions

One of the difficult realities of the Jewish community is that some Jews (like all others) struggle with addictions to alcohol, drugs, hate and other things that damage their lives. The Central Conference of American Rabbis has prepared materials to help rabbis understand the realities and difficulties of addiction. Download and read the document Resources for Rabbis Dealing with Addiction and Recovery Issues.

Children & the London Bombings

What do we say to children of all ages about yesterday's terror, death and destruction of lives? The Jewish Education Center of Cleveland has put together a curriculum for just such a question. It can be used at camp, religious schools, by rabbis or even individually. The curriculum is free and can be accessed at JECC-Response Curriculum - London Bombings. You will also find links to many other curricula in response to world and local events.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

More "Muslim Blogs" Links

Sunday I updated the links under the "Muslim Blogs" category. I found the links through Sister Scorpion. Today she posted more links, some of them which I found interesting at first glance, so I am adding more.

One of the goals of this blog is to share Jewish knowledge and to work for better communication and understanding between various faiths. We are well aware of the difficulties between some of the faith groups of the world - including the political difficulties between Jewish Israelis (yes, there are Christian, Muslim, Ba'hai and other Israelis) and Muslim Israelis. Perhpas seeing different faith bloggers link to each other will help contribute to understanding and dialogue in the world. I pray so.

Here are the links:
Neurotic Iraqi Wife
Nzinga's Soapbox (Amer. Ex-Pat Woman Living in Saudi Arabia)
Progressive Muslim Thoughts
The Muscatis, a husband and wife blogging team in Oman.

Let me know what you think and suggestions for other blogs to link.

Muslim Bloggers on London Bombings

What are Muslim bloggers saying about today's terror attack? Islamicate shares her thoughts and collects what others on the web are saying.

En'sha'allah, b'ezrat hashem (God willing), hate will soon cease.

Prayers on this difficult day

Another day of terror, pain, war and bloodshed. Sad. So sad.

My heart, thoughts and prayers are with all effected.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What is Israel?

Want to hear a thorough yet brief description of what and who Israel is today? Liron hs a brief yet thorough and clear description of Israel, especially for those who get most of their information on Israel from American mainstream media like CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC and the like. Listen to her June 25, 2005 podcast. Her description of Israel is in the first few minutes, just after she introduces herself.

Want to hear her podcasts? You can subscribe to her in iTunes or go directly to her podcasting web page.

Go, listen, learn and comment here.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Jewish/Israeli Podcasts

I've been listening to podcasts while out on walks and traveling the daily commute. I have listened to some ones with Israeli or Jewish content, and I thought it would be interesting to see how many Jewish or Israeli podcasts I could find. Below are some. If you know of more, please email me or leave a comment. Thanks.

(By the way, I have not listened to all of these, so feel free to leave feedback.)

The links below are to the webpages, not to the iTunes podcast page, although you should be able to find some of them there (if not there yet, email the podcast creators and they apply to be added to the iTunes page).

Jewish Podcasts:
Jewish Identity in Writing
Nextbook, a page with podcasts and articles on Jewish literature and culture.
UnionAvenue, a podcast with short quotations from Jews thorughout time and various professions.

Jewish Webcasting Guide

Israeli Podcasts:
Israelisms (from Jerusalem)
The View from Here (from Modi'in)

Make Poverty History

Through Father Jake Stops the World, I found Make Poverty History, an effort to end world poverty. Live 8 is of course another effort to end poverty, especially in Africa.

Link Update

Thanks to Sister Scorpion, I have updated some links. She has posted an update of her own links, and I have borrowed and added. So, take a look at the links on the right, especially in the Muslim blogs section.