Parasha Insights


The Jewish core has emerged stronger than ever these past few weeks. The monstrous massacre, compounded by the public blaming Jews for it, was a murderous double stab to the collective Jewish heart. The fact that some of our decades-long friends and neighbors have turned on us so suddenly left us disillusioned. We were once proud to say, “My best friend is Muslim,” but it turned out that some of them were not our friends. We loved our alma mater and thought of it as home. It turned out it never was home.   Oh, they say they don’t hate me. They just hate the Jews in Israel. But they don’t get it. The Jews in Israel are me. It's not that I agree with everything Israeli Jews say. It's that they are my hea… Read More »

Light and Strength in the Darkness

These are challenging times for our people and for all good people. For Jews, one of the most powerful resources for millennia has been thanksgiving and gratitude. In our transition, we express gratitude hundreds of times a day, at every step of the road. Before I eat an apple, after I come out of the bathroom when I open my eyes in the morning, and when I am about to retire. How do we cultivate this life-changing gift during times of visceral pain and distress?

In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob traveled from Beer Sheva to Haran. Beer Sheva, Hebrew for the well of the oath, was named after the oath of friendship taken by Abraham and the Philistine king, Abimelech. Haran was named after the Hebrew word haron, which means anger.… Read More »

Two Forms of Kindness

These loving, pleading words came from Margalit Megidish as she prayed for her daughter, Ori, whom Hamas took hostage. Ori Megidish is a soldier who served on a base near Gaza that was overrun on October 7 by Hamas. Hamas slaughtered many of her friends and took her and several others as hostages to Gaza. A short while after her mother’s prayer, Ori was rescued by the IDF in a complex daring raid.

Many wondered how Margalit could say, “I love you,” while her daughter was held hostage by the cruelest monsters on earth. Indeed, Margalit was in a dark pit of despair. Indeed, her tears flowed freely as she prayed, her heart torn asunder. But amid her prayers, the words “I love you” tumbled out. In this time of dee… Read More »

The iPhone, and the Terrorists From Gaza

Growing up in the aftermath of the Holocaust, many of us were tempted to fantasize about how things would have turned out differently if only conditions had been a bit more favorable. Indulging in the “if only” train of thought is how we seek to protect ourselves from the harsh realities of what is.

 Many of us also experienced the natural tendency to explain why things are different now and the Holocaust can never happen to us, not here and not now.

Take the ubiquity of the smartphone.

I’ve often imagined that if someone had an iPhone back in 1942 and snuck over the barbed wire into Auschwitz and took photos and videos and even live-streamed the atrocities, surely everything would come screeching to a h… Read More »

What is the power of unity?

The power of unity is palpable across the holy land these days and the entire Jewish world. It is an incredible shift from how things were less than a month ago. For many months, Jews were screaming at each other in support and in protest of the government’s planned judicial overhaul. The invectives hurled were painful and extreme.

There was also a terrible divide between religious and non-observant Jews. Just this past Yom Kippur, Chabad of North Tel Aviv held outdoor services because their facility was too small for the congregation. Tel Aviv had passed a bylaw forbidding gatherings in public areas with separate seating for men and women. Jewish protestors spent their Yom Kippur  hurling insults at fellow Jews immers… Read More »

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