What happens on the streets of Jerusalem during Selichot? Dr. Einat Ramon


Dr. Ramon describes the beautiful scene that takes place at the Western Wall, the Kotel, in the early pre-dawn hours during the month of Elul. She talks with yearning and wonder that will make you want to close your eyes and join her in the next Selichot prayer.

Are you Ready to Leave Egypt? Rabbi Professor David Golinkin Takes the Passover Stage


Lights Camera Action! Drama doesn’t just take place in the movies, on Passover we remember that we too were brought out of Egypt. In preparation for your own seder Rabbi Professor David Golinkin, President of The Schechter Institutes, tells of the custom of reenacting the story of the Exodus and offers a way of bringing the drama to your own seder.

God is in the Details Dr. Paul Mandel on Parshat Terumah


This week in Parshat Terumah Moses and the Israelites are given detailed instructions on how to construct the Tabernacle in the wilderness. How do we make sense of this detailed blueprint: “Make five posts of acacia wood for the screen and overlay them with gold—their hooks being of gold—and cast for them five sockets of copper?” Dr. Paul Mandel, senior lecturer in Midrash at The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, offers an intriguing explanation for the uses of different materials in the construction of the tabernacle and the special dividing curtain.

Tisha B’Av’s Place in Contemporary Society


Every year camp counselors confront a dilemma: what content is appropriate for Tisha B’Av when this fast day occurs during the camp season. Should the campers be expected to fast? The counselors? In many cases, commemorating Tisha B’Av is reduced to cancelling swimming or programming an activity related to the rabbinic midrash of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza on the destruction of the Temple. What indeed is Tisha B’Av’s place in contemporary society?

The Complexities of Purim


Purim is a holiday whose meaning is shrouded in mystery. The only clear element is what we are commanded to do on Purim as set forth at the end of the Scroll of Esther: read the Megilla, hold a festive meal, and give gifts to the poor. This last mitzvah is not an administrative detail of a system of social justice. Yes, the Jewish people are commanded to pay a tax of half a shekel, as we read onShabbat Shekalim, the Shabbat preceding Rosh Chodesh Adar. But gifts to the poor are another matter; giving charity is an expression of the direct, mutual economic responsibility between people.

Adding Adar Bet: Striking a Balance


This Hebrew year consists of thirteen months rather than twelve. Jews throughout the world will add (“intercalate”) a second month of Adar this year, in order to insure that Passover falls in the spring. Although we think of it as the Jewish calendar, the calendar of twelve “lunations”, 29 or 30 day months corresponding to the cycle of the moon – whose 354-day years are adjusted to the solar year of 365 days by intercalating a thirteenth month every two or three years – was the most common calendar in the ancient world.