Between Us

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A weekly message from Federation’s CEO, Steven A. Rakitt

  • Between Us: Let’s talk about gaining through sacrifice

    This week’s parasha is the first portion of the Book of Leviticus. Vayikra – “and God called” – appears somewhat archaic with its focus on the gory details of different types of animal sacrifice. But upon deeper reading, we glean several important lessons for modern-day behavior. For example, while we translate the Hebrew word korban as “sacrifice,”
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about building through action

    This week’s Torah portion stands in stark contrast to last week’s story, in which we witnessed the Israelites’ greatest act of disloyalty to God: building and worshipping a Golden Calf. In the double parashot of Vayakhel-Pekudei, we read of the great devotion and loving commitment by each person (kol ish) in building the tabernacle according to
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about heroes

    More than 175 years ago, Scottish-born philosopher Thomas Carlyle published “Heroes and Hero Worship,” a set of lectures he gave in 1840, arguing that individuals, not history per se, are the real reasons for human advancement. These specific individuals, whom Carlyle called “Heroes,” played outsized roles in the world’s advancement. Heroism – and hero worship
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about humility

    “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis This week’s parasha, Tetzaveh, is distinguished not by what it contains, but rather, what it omits. Interestingly, Moses’ name appears in every parasha chronicling his life from birth to death – except for this week’s portion. Commentators reflect on a
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about following directions

    This week’s parasha – Terumah – contains extraordinarily detailed instructions on the construction of the mishkan, the dwelling for God. “Make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them,” said God. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner says about this phrase and what he calls the ‘religious enterprise’ of building sanctuaries: “You have to do something so that God, who
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  • Standing strong as a united community: a message from The Jewish Federation

    “When the world is divided, let us do the opposite thing and show that we are united.” – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks In the wake of anti-Semitic acts across the nation – as recently as this week in our community – we must remain alert, aware and vigilant. We will not permit hateful voices to
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about the stranger among us

    This week’s parasha, Mishpatim, begins with ve’eleh hamishpatim (AND these are the rules). In last week’s Torah portion, the Children of Israel received The Ten Commandments, the first of the laws of the covenant between God and Israel. More of these laws are presented this week and are collectively known as “The Book of the Covenant.”
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about tomorrow

    This week’s parasha is Yitro, named after Moses’ father-in-law (one of only six Torah portions named after a central character). The portion contains powerful Cecil B. DeMille-like imagery, including thunder, lightning and the Ten Commandments. It also contains a less compelling – though equally important – lesson taught to Moses by Yitro, who helps Moses
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about life-changing experiences

    This week’s parasha is Beshallah, the fourth portion in the Book of Exodus. After leaving Egypt and escaping toward the Sea of Reeds, Moses gets his first glimpse of the challenges of leading the Israelites to freedom: “As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites caught sight of the Egyptians advancing upon them. Greatly frightened, the Israelites
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about bringing light to the darkness

    When they were younger, my kids asked that I leave a light on in the hallway so they could “sleep better.” Darkness for children – and for many adults – can be unnerving — even scary. This week’s Torah portion – parashat Bo – continues the story of the plagues visited upon the Egyptians as Pharaoh
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