Between Us

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

  • 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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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about who’s in charge

    This week’s Torah portion is Va’eira, the second parsha in the Book of Exodus, and contains the famous Ten Plagues. Last week, Pharaoh mocked Moses when he insisted that the Israelites be set free: “Who is the Lord that I should heed Him and let Israel go?” asked Pharaoh. “I do not know the Lord, nor will
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  • Between Us: Let’s Talk About Names

    This week’s parasha is the first of the Book of Exodus. Shemot – “names” – begins, “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob…” By listing the names, a strong link is developed between the patriarchs of Genesis and the protagonists of Exodus; from family album to the development of a nation.
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about accepting our fate

    This week’s parasha is entitled, Va-yechi, “and Jacob lived.” But this last portion of the Book of Genesis is really about how Jacob died. He does so with dignity, preparation, humility and focus. One commentator notes that Jacob’s approach to death is exactly the opposite of Dylan Thomas’: “Do not go gentle into that good night, old
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about being open to change

    Oh, the drama!  In this week’s parasha – Vayigash – Joseph is reunited with his brothers after many years apart.  He reveals himself after initially tricking them into believing that he wanted to hold Benjamin hostage while the brothers went to get their father Jacob. But Judah steps forward and offers himself instead. After excusing the
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about…what’s in a name

    This week’s parasha, Miketz, contains Pharaoh’s famous dream of seven fat cows and seven lean cows, which Joseph interprets before he is subsequently appointed Egypt’s Prime Minister. Later in the parasha, we read: “Before the years of famine came, Joseph became the father of two sons…. [He] named the first-born Manasseh, meaning “God has made me forget
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about….lighting the darkness

    This week’s Torah portion – Vayeshev – begins with a brief sentence: “Jacob dwelt in the land of his father’s sojournings, the land of Canaan.” Commentators note the intimation that Jacob was more settled than his father Isaac; implying that succeeding generations may feel more comfortable and settled in the land than did their ancestors. Tomorrow
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