“Build a Mishkan, not a Golden Calf”

This week we read Teruma, Exodus 25:1-27:19, and it begins with the following words, which we heard read from the Torah this morning: The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him. 3 And these…

“Why Keep Kosher Lecture” – Weekly Newsletter – 2/27/20

Next Wednesday, March 4, I will be giving a presentation—”Why Keep Kosher”—as part of the Jewish Studies Program Noon Lecture and Discussion Series at Purdue University. I chose this topic because, as I have taught here at Temple Israel, some concept of kashrut law is prevalent in every denomination of Judaism, ranging from stringent observance to outright…

“Mishpatim and Synagogue Culture”

What a  joyous occasion it is for us, here at Temple Israel, to celebrate our second New Member Shabbat Service.  In a world that is experiencing a fundamental shift in religious affiliation, as well as tangible generational differences, it is indeed a time for celebration and blessing that Temple Israel continues to grow as an…

“Six Days Shall You Outrage”

This week’s parsha is a good one.  It’s the story of Moses’ father-in-law telling him that he’s doing too much and that he needs to assign judges and chiefs to help him manage the workload of being God’s prophet. And, as I’ve said before, each year as we open an old Torah portion, we see…

“Environment Committee” – Weekly Newsletter – 2/13/20

I want to thank all of those who were with us this past Saturday for such a lovely Tu Bishvat celebration.  It was a wonderful combination of readings and music, and I was so glad to see so many of our congregants participating. Many thanks to Beth Goodman for her tireless championing for a special…

“The Rabbis and Climate Change”

This morning, as we celebrate Tu Bishvat, we stand, with no exaggeration, in a time of chaos.  The concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is the highest it has been in 3 million years, 408 part​s per million.  Scientists predict that a mass extinction, the sixth in Earth’s history, will occur when we hit…

“Tu Bishvat” – Weekly Newsletter – 2/6/20

With Tu Bishvat fast approaching, we typically take time to reflect on the beginning of spring in Israel, or on Tu Bishvat’s origin dating back to the Mishnah, which states: “The first of Shevat is the new year for trees, according to the words of Bet Shammai. Bet Hillel says: on the fifteenth of that…

“Judaism and Gun Violence” – Monthly Newsletter – February 2020

Recently,  the non-partisan, gun violence-focused news outlet The Trace presented some devastating data on gun violence in America. Using six years of gun violence incidents, they created “An Atlas of American Gun Violence.”  The atlas allows users to put in their address, city, or state to see how the 190,000 gun violence incidents affect their…