Parashat Naso 5784

June 11, 2024

Rabbi Cantor Inna Serebro-Litvak ('16)

There is a beautiful place in the Ayalon Valley – west of Jerusalem – just 25 km away. It is called Latrun. The name Latrun may have been derived from “Le Toron des Chevaliers,” the name of a Crusader castle that once stood there. In modern times the hill is best known as the site of an important battle during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.

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Parashat Bemidbar 5784

June 3, 2024

Dr. Yakir Englander

Anyone who has spent several days in the desert knows the nighttime there—the human need to stay close to the nearby camp.

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Parashat Behukotai 5784

May 28, 2024

Rabbi Rena H. Kieval ('06)

“Why? Because, I said so!” Many of us heard those words as children, when we questioned something we were told to do. The reason given was, “Because I said so!” We ourselves may have said those words, as parents or teachers, in our roles as authority figures. This week’s parashah, Behukotai, is named for hukkim, the rules mentioned in the opening verse. According to rabbinic tradition, hukkim are statutes for which there is no rationale. We are to obey them “because God said so.”  The sages of the Talmud note, “And you shall keep my statutes (hukkotai; Leviticus 18:4)” refers to rules which may be challenged, because the reasons for them are not known. They cite a list of examples of such hukkim, including the prohibition against eating pork, against wearing shatnez (garments of diverse fabrics), and the scapegoat of the Yom Kippur ritual. The Talmudic passage concludes, “And lest you say these are meaningless acts, the verse states: “I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:4), to indicate: I am...

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Parashat Behar 5784

May 20, 2024

Rabbi Susan Elkodsi (AJR '15)

Sylvia, z”l, passed away Erev Pesah at almost 100 years old. Although her loyalty was to the Valley Stream Jewish Center and Rabbi Yechiel, she often told me that I was her “favorite female rabbi.” She was intelligent and thoughtful, often adding her own “midrash” to our texts. She was raised to fight for civil rights, women’s rights and peace, and raised her children the same way. Her insights always added to our discussions.

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Parashat Emor 5784

May 14, 2024

Hazzan Rabbi Luis Cattan ('20)

Albert Einstein once said, “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.” Reflecting on this wisdom, I write this D’var Torah on Wednesday, May 8, 2024 – the Sixteenth Day of the Omer: Day 215 of captivity, as we continue to count both the days of the Omer and the endless days of our brothers and sisters’ cruel captivity at the hands of terrorists.

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