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.

Are All Women Leaders Feminists? Professor Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern on Women's Leadership


Dr. Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern, associate professor of history at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, contrasts the leadership of Meir, who disavowed feminism, with the leadership of Ada Fishman Maimon, an advocate of feminism, one of the founders of Women Workers Movement and a member of Knesset. Watch the video to learn more about Meir and Maimon’s differing leadership styles.

God of History or God of Wisdom? Dr. Ari Ackerman on Parshat Yitro


This week in Parshat Yitro The Ten Commandments are revealed, and with them another lens of viewing God. Dr. Ari Ackerman, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and Senior Lecturer in Jewish Thought, calls attention to one of the great debates of Jewish Thought between Judah HaLevi and Maimonides. Should we view God  through the lens of power as seen in history or through the lens of wisdom as seen in our natural surroundings? 

Was Beatriz Convicted? Professor Renée Levine Melammed and the Case of the Mysterious Midwife


This month marks the 482nd anniversary of the start of the trials of Beatriz Rodriguez – a 16th century Castilian midwife tried numerous time by the inquisitors of Toledo.  Dr. Renée Levine Melammed, Professor of Jewish History, describes how she first began researching women of the Spanish Inquisition. 

Can We Walk the Walk (as Children of Israel)? Rabbi Reb Dr. Mimi Feigelson on Parshat Vayechi


Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson, Mashpiah Ruhanit (Spiritual Mentor) and senior lecturer of Rabbinics and Hasidic Thought at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, explores Jacob’s identity when he is on his deathbed. Jacob, also known as Israel, articulates his values as he dies and how he wants his descendants, the Children of Israel, to live. 

Light in the Darkness? Hanukkah and its Possible Pagan Origins


What are the cultural-evolutionary origins of our Holiday of Lights? To be sure, the rabbis of the Talmud tell us in Tractate Shabbat 21a that the miracle of Hanukkah is what we teach our children, and perhaps why we eat latkes and jelly doughnuts, all laden with (way too much) oil. However other accounts of the story, including one other rabbinic source – the Al Ha’Nissim paragraph added to the Amida and Birkat Hamazon during the holiday – make no mention of this miracle.