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The Evening Shema: The Perfect Place to Begin – Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters – Lubavitch.com

Posted By on August 13, 2022

Parshat Veeschanan contains probably the most well-known verse of the Torah, the Shema. The Talmud opens with the Mishnahs discussion of the Shema. In particular it asks, when is the proper time to read the evening Shema? To this, the Talmud poses a question of its own: why first discuss the Shema of the evening and not the morning? The answer ultimately giventhat G-d created the night firstonly leaves us with more questions.

The premise of the Talmuds question was that the darkness of night is the wrong place to start, and its answer seems to be nothing more than a resignation to the natural state of affairs. Isnt the Torah supposed to focus on light, and standing up for what is moral even when it defies the conventions of nature?

In a poetic turn of events, the answer is found in the very conclusion of the Talmud. All who learn halachot each day are promised a place in the world to come, as it is written, His are the ancient ways do not read ways of old [halichot] but Halachot. Habakkuk 3:6. Wed think, whats so special about someone who learns a portion of Halacha every single day? Surely if one misses just one day, while being sure to learn yesterday and tomorrow, nothing of value is lost?

If we look at the original verse in Habakkuk, the Talmuds reading seems puzzling: He stands and shakes the earth, He beholds and makes the nations tremble, the everlasting mountains are dashed to bits, the hills bow, His are the ways of old. In the simple reading, the verse describes G-ds power, and in the Talmuds reading, the verse describes the power of our Torah learning.

In truth the two understandings both get at a single truth. G-d rules the world in a just manner through the morality of the Torah, and by learning the Torah we participate in the rectification of the world. When we learn Torah we become a partner in the creation of G-ds world, by helping to bring it closer to the way it ought to be.

This brings us back to the evening Shema. We could very well skip the evening, and begin our discussion with what seems to be a more appropriate theme. But in practice, we cannot wait for the light of day. If G-d created night first, we cannot simply wait out the darkness. Instead we have to bring the light of holiness and Torah into the world even while it is still night.

In this way, by opening with a discussion of the evening Shema, the Talmud is teaching us that we cannot afford to let the evening pass us by. Every moment that G-d creates is an opportunity that we ought not overlook. Even if it seems an odd place to begin, every ordinary moment can become a sublime opportunity, if only we get started.

Based on Toras Menachem Vol. XXVII pg. 222

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The Evening Shema: The Perfect Place to Begin - Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters - Lubavitch.com

‘You don’t want to take my money, do you?’: Mandarin-speaking rabbi fights antisemitism on Chinas TikTok – Yahoo News

Posted By on August 13, 2022

An American rabbi who lived and worked in China for over a decade is fighting antisemitism on Chinese social media using educational videos.

Rabbi Matt Trusch was sharing Jewish parables in fluent Mandarin on Douyin (Chinas version of TikTok) from his Texas home last year when he came across users spouting Jewish stereotypes online.

Trusch describes himself in his Douyin bio as a rabbi who shares wisdom of the Talmud, interesting facts about the Jewish people, business thought and money-making tips.

A holder of two degrees in Asian studies, Trusch has gained a significant following on the online platform, where he highlights life and business lessons from the Talmud and the book Tanya by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, who founded Chabad Hasidism.

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As of this writing, his account has accumulated over 180,000 followers while his videos have attracted nearly 700,000 likes.

The comment sections of his videos are filled with a large amount of hateful messages and mixed opinions on Jewish people.

In one of his videos in which he explains how China helped Jewish refugees fleeing from Europe during World War II, several commenters appreciated Trusch for sharing this information while many others used stereotypes and antisemitic language to mock him.

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The clip, which has over 7 million views, received comments such as You dont want to take my money, do you? and Wall Street elites are all Jews.

There were also commenters who blamed Jewish people for the Opium Wars between China and Great Britain during the mid-1800s, as well as for causing the inflation in pre-World War II Germany.

In videos that do not even involve Israel, some commenters can be found chiding Trusch for not commenting on Palestine.

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Based on the commenters messages, many of his viewers perceive the Talmud as a get-rich scheme rather than a Jewish religious text. Such perception has become so popular that it has created an industry of self-help books and private schools that claim to teach about Jewish money-making secrets.

Trusch, who works with an Australia-based Chinese-speaking Jewish partner on creating content to educate others about Jewish people, shared that he intentionally included Chinese people's stereotypes about Jewish people in his Douyin bio to attract and reach more Chinese viewers.

We do sort of exploit the fact that [Chinese people] are interested in listening to Jewish business wisdom to get them to follow us. We have sort of played to that before, he was quoted as saying.

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The Chinese peoples view of the Talmud as a business guide also helps Trusch and his partner navigate Chinas complicated religious environment, where Judaism is not among the five recognized religions.

Pirkei Avot and the Talmud do not mean religion in China, even though those are Jewish texts that we learn Torah from, Trusch noted. If I were to say, Im going to teach Torah concepts in China, that will be forbidden, probably. But if I talk about things from the Talmud, then its not threatening.

Trusch spent 12 years in Shanghai doing business in a range of industries after completing an undergraduate degree in Asian studies at Dartmouth College and a masters degree at Harvard University in the late '90s.

He shared that while he was already aware of the stereotypical way Chinese people think about Jewish people, he noted that, When I was in China, I very rarely felt anything but a fond appreciation of Jews.

In 2009, he returned to the United States and settled in Houston with his family. While in the U.S., he still found time to visit China frequently but was forced to stop in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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'You don't want to take my money, do you?': Mandarin-speaking rabbi fights antisemitism on Chinas TikTok - Yahoo News

Tisha B’Av: The Arch of Titus an alternative view – The Times of Israel

Posted By on August 13, 2022

I am writing this piece in the run up to Tisha BAv (the ninth of Av)the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. The Talmud relates five major catastrophes which occurred on that day from the evil report about the land of Israel brought back to Moses by the spies in the wilderness to the destruction of the two temples and the end of the Bar Kochba revolt. Jewish tradition has linked that day to subsequent tragedies in Jewish history from the First Crusade to the expulsion of the Jews from England, France and Spain to the outbreak of the First World War and even, by extreme nationalists, to the implementation of the withdrawal from Gaza (sic).

The historical evidence linking these events to the ninth of Av is actually quite flimsy. Sometimes the event itself did not happen so suddenly. When for instance did the First World War break out? when Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914? or when Austria declared war on Serbia? or Germany on Russia? or Britain on Germany? The same points can be made regarding the expulsions where the actual dates themselves are not so certain. When did an expulsion happen when the decree was promulgated? when it was announced? or over the several days it was implemented? Even with the destruction of the First temple there is uncertainty; the Books of Kings and Jeremiah give different dates for the destruction neither of them the ninth of Av. Nevertheless we have chosen to commemorate these tragedies on that date and this is sufficient for it to be a focus for our feelings. It is moreover the destruction of the Second Temple possibly the most significant event, religiously, demographically and culturally in Jewish history that has set the scene for the commemoration.

While we naturally tend to see the destruction from the Jewish point of view, it is interesting to look at it from the Roman side and where better to start, than with the Arch of Titus. The arch was built by Tituss brother and successor, Domitian, to honour him after his death. The arch was the model for the subsequent Arch of Constantine which itself became a model for the modern arches of The Arc de Triomphe in Paris and our own Marble Arch. The scenes shown on the inside of the arch are among the only contemporary depictions of the Temple artefacts. In particular the unique depiction of the Menorah with its circular arms and hexagonal base has become its recognised image, and hence the official symbol of the state of Israel.

As is frequently the case, reality diverges from the myth. Although Josephus, the Jewish historian, describes the Jewish revolt which led to the destruction of the temple as indisputably the greatest struggle of his age and possibly the greatest in the history of the world, the reality is much more mundane. The first five Roman emperors all came from one family the Julio Claudians collateral descendants of Julius Caesar. Vespasian the general who began the siege of Jerusalem, and whose son Titus finished it and destroyed the Temple, was the founder of a new dynasty, the Flavians. As such he was an upstart with a constant need to prove his credibility- a trait inherited by his children. The propaganda exercise began with the triumphal procession organised in Rome, continued with the support of Josephuss history, the minting of the Judea capta coins showing an image of Judea in chains and culminated in the construction of the arch.

In reality, the war, though its consequences were vast, was itself not such a struggle. The casualties, on both sides, were far smaller than those in the subsequent Bar Kochba revolt, which really did result in the extermination of the Jewish communities in Israel. Similarly it does not bear comparison with the great campaigns of Julius Caesar who conquered what is now France vastly increasing the land area of the empire or of Pompey the Great who subjugated the Middle East including Palestine.

The mythology, however, has stuck. The menorah remains the symbol of the state and the arch the symbol of the captivity. At some point, we do not know when, the Jews of Rome put a Herem (a ban) on Jews walking under the arch- a ban which remained in place for centuries, if not millennia. The ban was lifted in 1948 with the Declaration of the State of Israel. One of the most moving scenes of documentaries about the establishment of the state is the footage of the Chief Rabbi of Rome conducting a service at the arch immediately following its announcement. Ten years later the State of Israel issued its own memorial gold coin in Hebrew and Latin showing Judea capta on the obverse and Israel Liberata on the reverse. My late father as a staunch Zionist bought some of those coins. I am pleased to say that despite the attentions of recent burglars I still have them.

I am proud to have been able to round off history in another way. I have visited Rome, incidentally the birthplace of Hebrew printing and the city with the oldest continuous Jewish population in the world many times. Like many others including Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday I have fallen victim to its charms. This year however for the first time I was able to walk under the Arch of Titus, see at first hand those symbols of Jewish history and assert for myself the end of Galut. It was a truly memorable trip.

I studied at Yeshivat Kerem Beyavneh in Israel and then at Cambridge University. After practising as a commercial lawyer I became active in communal affairs. I was Co-Chair of British Friends of Peace Now and the New Israel Fund. I was President of the Board of Deputies and then took a Masters at UCL in Jewish History and am now doing graduate research there.

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Tisha B'Av: The Arch of Titus an alternative view - The Times of Israel

At Oakland’s ‘Base,’ rabbinic couple wants you to make connections J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on August 13, 2022

Long before becoming a rabbi, Frankie Sandmel organized events like Havdalah with a social justice slant. Now Rabbi Sandmel and their partner, Elaina Marshalek, will do some of that and more as community-builders at Base, an initiative that aims to reach young Jews outside of the synagogue.

Already with nine outposts in places such as Chicago, Brooklyn, Harlem and Miami, Base now has its first Bay Area location in the sunny Oakland home that Sandmel, 32, and Marshalek, 31, moved into last month, next door to the Moishe House in Rockridge (and adjacent to the future home of the JCC of the East Bay).

While each Base is diverse in terms of what they look like and who they serve, what participants say about [each location] is very similar, Marshalek said. And that is that everyone feels welcome and that they can be themselves here.

Base was founded seven years ago by four friends in Manhattan and Brooklyn who were passionate about Jewish outreach. Each Base is run by a rabbinical couple, something that Sandmel believes is based on the successful Chabad model, one in which hospitable emissaries create a warm atmosphere.

At Base, people are invited into the rabbi-and-spouses home for Shabbat and holiday meals, Jewish learning, programs and social connection. It is run under the auspices of Moishe House, and the initiatives are similar, except that at Moishe House there are multiple residents, theyre not married, and they receive rent stipends in exchange for planning events for their 20- and 30-something peers.

Also, while Moishe House events can run the gamut (some Jewish, some not), Bases events will be more about Jewish learning and community service.

For example, Marshalek said, they will be more likely to have Shabbat and holiday meals around the table, for smaller groups to facilitate deeper connections, whereas Moishe House might have a potluck with unlimited guests. And rather than a one-time workshop at a Moishe House, Base is more likely to offer a six-week series that will explore an issue in-depth and foster interpersonal connections.

For Sandmel, being a rabbi-educator at Base is a full-time job. Its part time for Marshalek, who is director of programs for Chicago-based Svara, which IDs itself as a traditionally radical yeshiva dedicated to the serious study of Talmud through the lens of queer experiences. (It also runs Queer Talmud Camp, which has been on hiatus since the pandemic.) Marshalek and Sandmel, who also has an affiliation with Svara, are both big fans of its ethos of making serious Jewish learning accessible to people who might not try it otherwise.

As the community builds, Sandmel will offer rabbinic pastoral support and perform lifecycle events. And beyond hosting Shabbat and holiday meals, the couple will offer opportunities for Jewish learning Marshaleks book-lined office will double as a beit midrash, or study hall and Sandmel expects to go out for coffee with interested folks. Their first event will be the Tu BAv Community Love Party, on the patio on Aug. 11, which will feature hanging, grilling, dreaming and perhaps some crafts to celebrate love and to warm our home.

The reason we wanted this role was that we were doing it anyway, said Marshalek, who grew up Reform in San Mateo, where she attended Peninsula Temple Beth El, served on the NFTY board and attended Cal for both her undergraduate degree and graduate school.

It feels like a huge wink from HaShem, added Sandmel, a third-generation rabbi who grew up mostly in Chicago. They were ordained by Hebrew College in Boston this past May.

Marshalek and Sandmel married in January of this year, and since arriving in the East Bay have been meeting with Jewish leaders in the community to talk about collaborating.

Sandmel said one of the aims is to meet people where they are and invest in them as individuals and to do it with a progressive lens. Added Marshalek: We know there are a lot of folks hungry for deep Jewish learning, deep spiritual support and nourishment and we want to offer new avenues for that.

One plus is that the couple has the experience of other Base leaders to draw on. Then again, each community is different. They envision drawing to their home a mix of queer and straight, partnered and not, and non-Jews interested in what Judaism has to offer are welcome, too.

Our biggest goal is helping people who want to be in Jewish community, Sandmel said.

To learn more, follow Base on Instagram or visit basemovement.org/bay.

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At Oakland's 'Base,' rabbinic couple wants you to make connections J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

Chazanut and music: tradition and today – Australian Jewish News

Posted By on August 13, 2022

With the approach of the Yamim Noraim of 5783/2022, the first time we will have services back to normal post-COVID shule restrictions and closures, all shule-goers are looking forward to hearing the familiar sounds of chazanut in each and every shule that they are used to attending.

However, Melbourne Jewry in particular is looking forward to a taste of imported chazanut. Services at Toorak Shule will feature broadway star Dudu Fisher. Rabbi/Chazan Dovid Rubinfeld is returning to Melbourne to lead services at Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation (where a history of chazanut goes back to the time of Chazan Avraham Adler whose memorable famed abilities introduced this writer to the beauties and nuances of chazanut).

Services at Caulfield Shule will once again feature the imported Kolot min Hashamayim choir accompanying Chazan Dov Farkas (whose father Shimon will once again enthral participants at Sydneys Central Shule).

Services aside there will be opportunities for the community to attend various non-chag day concerts including a Kolot min Hashamayim concert on October 1.

As I write, more such concerts have yet to be announced. (Note: The Lemmer Brothers concert using Toorak Shule as a venue in September is not specifically chazanut.)

In his article available online entitled The origins of chazanut, Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler points out that since its beginnings chazanut has constantly changed in character. Indeed it has needed to if it was to fulfil its function of being the means by which to inspire congregants.

Nevertheless even today chazanim maintain ancient prayer modes that have become hallowed by time and usage.

Rabbi Shisler writes, The function of the chazan today is twofold. Firstly he is to keep the congregation together and secondly he is to try to inspire them towards a higher level of spirituality during prayer [And] it is still absolutely imperative that whoever does conduct the service, must be completely familiar with all the traditional niggunim that have been handed down from one generation to another.

What are the elements of chazanut that are still popular and of importance today? Rabbi Shisler asks. One of the most important elements of chazanut is called nusach hatefillah. This expression has two meanings. One is the form and order of prayers [subject to some variation between shules dependent on the origins and customs of their founders and members], and the other refers to the traditional melodies that must be used to chant them. It is this second one that is specific to chazanut.

The period between the wars is generally regarded as the golden age of chazanut. This is the time when legendary chazanim such as Kwartin, Sirota, Hershman and Rosenblatt flourished.

Post-war years saw a continuation of their tradition through such famed chazanim as Moshe Koussevitzky and Pierre Pinchik. Contemporary chazanim will often utilise their signature compositions, but the traditional nusach must maintain its place.

Beyond chazanut per se, the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks reflected on the place of song in Judaism. He posited that there is an inner connection between music and the spirit; that when language aspires to the transcendent and the soul longs to break free of the gravitational pull of the earth, it modulates into song. He cited Goethe who said: Religious worship cannot do without music. It is one of the foremost means to work upon man with an effect of marvel.

On a different level, Rabbi Sacks noted, Mystics go further and speak of the song of the universe This is what Psalm 19 (2-3) means when it says, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands There is no speech, there are no words, where their voice is not heard. Their music carries throughout the earth, their words to the end of the world.

Beneath the silence, audible only to the inner ear, creation sings to its Creator. So, when we pray, we do not read: we sing. When we engage with sacred texts, we do not recite: we chant. Every text and every time has, in Judaism, its own specific melody. There are different tunes for shacharit, minchah and maariv, the morning, afternoon and evening prayers. There are different melodies and moods for the prayers for a weekday, Shabbat, the three pilgrimage festivals, Pesach, Shavuot and Succot (which have much musically in common but also tunes distinctive to each), and for the Yamim Noraim, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Sacks continues, Music has extraordinary power to evoke emotion. The Kol Nidrei prayer with which Yom Kippur begins is not really a prayer at all. It is a dry legal formula for the annulment of vows. There can be little doubt that it is its ancient, haunting melody that has given it its hold over the Jewish imagination. It is hard to hear those notes and not feel that you are in the presence of God on the Day of Judgement, standing in the company of Jews of all places and times as they plead with heaven for forgiveness. It is the holy of holies of the Jewish soul.

As we return to shule these Yamim Noraim may we all appreciate tefillah as so much more than just a concert. And, if I may take a cue from our communal real estate promoters, let me emphasise that as far as shule is concerned, the key is participation, participation, participation.

Shabbat shalom,Yossi

Yossi Aron OAM is The AJNs religious affairs editor. He has spent over 40 years as chazan of South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation.

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Chazanut and music: tradition and today - Australian Jewish News

VA’ETCHANAN: In this week’s Torah portion, a command to love J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on August 13, 2022

TheTorah columnis supported by a generous donation from Eve Gordon-Ramek in memory of Kenneth Gordon.VaetchananDeuteronomy 3:23-7:11

Love is in the air on Tu BAv, the 15th of Av, a joyous minor holiday that in Second Temple times marked the start of the grape harvest. Marriageable young women donned white dresses and danced into the forest followed by eligible young men, which resulted in many shidduchim (love matches). The holiday has been rediscovered in present-day Israel, particularly as an occasion for romance, weddings, gift giving and paying homage to the art of love.

What more bashert (inevitable) connection could there be to this weeks parashah? In Vaetchanan we find Judaisms most ubiquitous and heartfelt declaration of love and devotion, the Shema and Veahavta: Hear O Israel! Adonai is our God, Adonai alone. You shall love your God Adonai with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

Jewish children learn the Shema as their first prayer; Jews of all ages declare it multiple times a day in worship, before sleep and sometimes in moments of crisisthe Shema is often a Jews final utterance before dying. The proclamation affirming Divine Unity and the directive to teach our children and keep these words close at all times are the beating heart of Jewish faith and practice, bidding this smallest of peoples (Deut. 7:7) to be in a continually renewing, loving relationship with God.

Ahavah (love) is a recurring theme in the Book of Deuteronomy. In Biblical terms, ahavah connotes fidelity, faith, fear, reverence, adoration, reciprocity and service. But can love be commanded? Does you shall love compel or coerce, more than invite and welcome, the potential lover?

Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger (1847-1905), the great mystic and Torah teacher known as the Gerer Rebe, wondered: How is it possible to command the love of God when it is dependent on an inner urge? Suppose such an urge is absent? However, every person has the potential somewhere buried within, hence the commandment means to bolster the spirit so that the slumbering love of God may be uncovered. (Itturei Torah, Vol. VI)

Jewish mystics believe that all people indeed, all of Gods creations have within them the spark of divinity. Everyone can show love for their Creator if, as the Gerer Rebe suggests, the soul can be buoyed sufficiently to encourage the life-sustaining bond between an individual and the traditions, rituals and Presence that have supported the Jewish people for millennia. How do we accomplish that?

The Sages gave enormous weight to the gauntlet of you shall love. Our massive Talmud (second-to-seventh centuries C.E.) opens with the early rabbis vigorously debating how to say the Shema, in what position of the body and with what disposition of heart it is to be uttered. The customs and choreography of our prayer services and of many rituals still widely practiced are evidence of the rabbis pedagogy they knew that love of God and tradition can and should be expressed in many different ways, such as:

When reciting the Shema, we cover our eyes to create a private, intimate space for deep listening.

When pulling on the tallit (prayer shawl), we kiss the atarah (collar) and receive the ancestral and Divine embrace symbolized by the shawl.

We touch and kiss the Torah as it circuits the sanctuary.

When called to the Torah, we touch the scroll with the tzitzit (ritual fringes) of the tallit and then kiss the fringes.

We dedicate time for communal worship, charitable offerings and social connection in the hope that our gatherings and our loving sacrifices will help bring tikkun olam, repair of the world.

These examples, and so many more, reflect what is known in contemporary circles as The Five Love Languages: affirmations, quality time, receiving/giving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Each of us has a preferred way of indicating love and loyalty, and classical Jewish tradition, long before New Age psychology, identified and welcomed them all. Statements of faith, devotion of sacred time, gifts of precious resources, activities that foster healing and regular physical demonstrations of love align with the advice of present-day coaches and counselors as they guide people to lasting, loving relationships.

With innovation and creativity, our Sages took the challenge of and you shall love and gifted us with myriad opportunities and pathways to live that command, each and every day. They invite us to a daily renewal of vows to keep love alive so that we merit to be among those of whom Moses spoke (also in this parashah): you, who hold fast to your God Adonai, are all alive today. (Deut. 4:4)

By holding fast to Jewish life and learning, may we know the joy and fulfillment of true and lasting love. And may this Shabbat Nachamu, the first of seven Shabbats of Consolation, give us comfort that the light of Divine Love shines still within our hearts, and throughout all of creation.

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VA'ETCHANAN: In this week's Torah portion, a command to love J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

We spoke to Miriam, the Hebrew tutor Nathan Fielder hired for his fake family on HBOs The Rehearsal – JTA News – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Posted By on August 13, 2022

(JTA) Miriam Eskenasy didnt know exactly what she was signing up for when she applied to tutor Hebrew on The Rehearsal, Jewish comedian Nathan Fielders reality-bending HBO show in which (ostensibly) real people practice for uncomfortable situations.

But the Portland, Oregon, cantor believed she would be prepared for whatever was thrown her way. After all, shes taught Hebrew school during every phase of her career, from the time she was a student cantor in the early 2000s until now, as a self-employed Hebrew and bnei mitzvah teacher.

But Eskenasy had never before encountered a family held together only by the premise that they were simulating family life, with a fast-growing child actor son, to see whether they wanted to embark upon it for real. In the seasons fifth episode, Fielder and his rehearsal-partner co-parent Angela fight over whether their son Adam should be exposed to Fielders Judaism or only Angelas Christianity, which is central to her identity.

When they cant come to terms, Fielder enlists Eskenasy to give Adam clandestine lessons about Judaism ones that echoed the secretive lessons Eskenasky herself received as a Jew preparing to move to Israel from Communist Romania. Ultimately, tensions between Fielder and Angela boil over after Fielder invites Eskenasy to the house they are temporarily sharing.

Eskanasy, who moved came to the United States at 16 from Israel, is bound by a non-disclosure agreement not to talk about what happened during the filming and hadnt seen the full episode before it aired. But she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that she knows her personality could potentially steal any scene as she does when she accuses Angela of antisemitism.

Im an Israeli, New York, chutzpahdik, Jewish person, Eskenasy said. And I wasnt going to take any shit.

We spoke with Eskenasy about her childhood in Romania, her own experiences with antisemitism and what she gets out of working with interfaith families that are, well, real.

This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

JTA: The most important question: Are you caught up on The Rehearsal? And are you going to watch yourself?

Eskenasy: Ive been watching the episodes weekly I dont know if to tell my friends to tune in to the next episode or not because, oh, my God, it was like I said so much! And I dont know what he put in and what he left out.

The episode deals with the challenges of raising a child in an interfaith household. What is your experience like working with families like that?

Today in America, Judaism is all about mixed marriages. I have done a lot of interfaith weddings, and that was my premise, that they were willing to have a Jewish home. When I was working at KAM Isaiah Israel Synagogue in Chicago, interfaith couples had to sign up for a 10-session study with me, the introduction to Judaism classes and what have you. So they dont have to convert, but they have to understand what Judaism is before they get married.

I would say more than half of the kids that Ive worked with come from interfaith families. My grandson is half not Jewish. But on the other hand, what Im finding out is that, most often than not, its the non-Jewish parent who makes the commitment to raise the Jewish child, and takes the kid to the bar mitzvah lessons, is invested in learning Hebrew or asking questions about stuff or being interested whether they convert or not. They have a much less complicated view of Judaism.

We, as Jews, I think, have a very complex relationship with our religion.

Miriam decides to take matters into her own hands and talk to Angela about Judaism. (Screenshot)

You were born in Bucharest, Romania, and lived there before moving to Israel and eventually, the United States. What was it like to be Jewish in Romania in the 1950s?

I was 10 years old when I left Romania. There were kids who would call me dirty Jew or something like that kids that I thought were my friends.

On Passover, my mother would go to the outskirts of Bucharest and find a box of matzah to show me what it was, that Jews eat this kind of stuff on this day.

My mother sent me to a cheder [lessons for Jewish children] once my parents applied to go to Israel. That was a really scary experience. It was this rickety stairway in somebodys attic and some old guy was teaching us the aleph bet. And there were two kids, me and the one other Jewish kid from my class. And then that kid got the papers to go to Israel. So the next year, I didnt want to go by myself. So after one year, I learned nothing. The aleph-bet, then nothing. This is what I grew up with, as a kid.

Your family was among the many Romanian Jews to emigrate to Israel during the Communist era. What was that like?

We had other relatives who would get their papers to go to Israel. [Romania was the only Communist country to maintain uninterrupted relations with Israel, and emigration was possible and even encouraged by Communist leaders as a way to reduce the Jewish population. But Zionism was prohibited and Zionist leaders were imprisoned during Eskenaskys childhood.] My parents friends from their hometown would come the night before they had to leave to stay with us. And so my parents would make this big spread, a meal and a farewell going-away party. And at the end of all these things, they would get up and I have distinct memories of this close all the windows, pull all the curtains and they would stand up and sing the Hatikvah [Israels national anthem]. It was all very hush-hush.

You spoke passionately on the show about opposing antisemitism. What experiences with antisemitism, if any, have you had since you came to the United States?

In the 40 years I lived in New York, I lived in Jackson Heights, Queens. Jackson Heights has a lot of landmark apartments that were built in the 1920s. Those developments were notoriously antisemitic. Not just antisemitic, but if you were not Italian or Irish you basically couldnt get into those. I was the first person in my building to have a mezuzah on the door. There were two apartments per floor, and my neighbor got very upset one time when I took down some plastic green Christmas wrappings around the railing, which I thought were a hazard, aside from being ugly. She wrote me a note to take down my mizah, because it was offensive to her. That was the extent of my antisemitic experiences.

After becoming a cantor in 2002, you worked in synagogues in New York and the Midwest. How did you end up in Portland and what has been your experience there?

I have lived for the past 20 years in a Jewish environment only, working in synagogues and hanging out with only Jewish people and singing Jewish music. When I moved here in 2019 to be close to my daughter, I did not move to the Jewish neighborhood. This is a working-class neighborhood. Its up and coming but there are no Jewish delis here, let me put it that way.

Thats why I didnt put my mezuzah up right away because you read about all this antisemitism. I grew up with it as a kid and even in New York, so I dont want to be exposed to that.

It was an adjustment until my next-door neighbor texted me one evening to ask me if what I was cooking was latkes on Hanukkah one night, the first Hanukkah that I was here, and that he had to come over and have some. So then I felt a little easier about being accepted here for who I am, what I am.

You encounter some shocking moments during your tutoring on The Rehearsal. What have been some of the most surprising or funny moments youve encountered in your work previously?

In this one synagogue in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, I had this one kid who never, ever practiced. And I would ask her, How come you didnt practice this week? And one time, she said, I put my Torah portion on the floor, and the dog barfed on it. And so I couldnt practice this week. I tell this to all the kids and they crack up.

What do you like most about teaching children about Judaism?

When I was a student cantor at East End Temple [in New York City], we had this very philosophical discussion about God. And I had this one student, very bright. She thought that God was an alien, who lived on another planet and was controlling life on earth like a puppeteer.

Kids are a hoot. Theyre hilarious. They keep me young.

This is the world that Im in. I want to inspire Jewish kids, I want to make sure that they stay Jewish, that their bar mitzvah experience is not a horrible experience.

Some of the bar mitzvah kids I work with are 14, 15, and they just decide to have a ceremony later in life. I like those kids very much. Theyre practically adults already. You can talk to them a little differently. Its really great. Theyre there because they want to be. My job is to get them psyched about it, to get them to want to do it on their own.

Read more from the original source:

We spoke to Miriam, the Hebrew tutor Nathan Fielder hired for his fake family on HBOs The Rehearsal - JTA News - Jewish Telegraphic Agency

A-Z List of 200 Short Girl Names That Are All Sugar and Spice – Parade Magazine

Posted By on August 13, 2022

A new baby girl is such a bundle of joy. In fact, Joy makes a fantastic name for a girl to define this feeling of utter happiness. The name, Joy, and other short girl names are both easy to say and are easy to spell. This is always a nice consideration (that your daughter will likely appreciate!) when it comes time for school to start. Not only is it easier to learn to spell a short name, girls tend to abbreviate their friends' names to cute nicknames anyway!

If you are after cute and easy names for your daughter, you may find just what you are looking for on this extensive list of short girl names. The list is categorized by letter of the alphabet to make it easy for those who have a specific letter in mind. All of the names are either four letters or less, or they contain just one syllable.

Whether you are looking for a name that is classic, unique or trendy, you will find plenty of inspiration on this list of 200 short girl names.

1. Ava - Means "birdlike, lively" and has a Latin origin.

2. Anna - The name comes from a Hebrew origin and means "grace." (Grace would make a nice middle name for the name Anna!)

3. Aria - Has many different origins and means "melody" or "song."

4. Amy - Means "beloved" and has Latin and French origins.

5. Abby - Has an English origin and means "father's joy."

6. Anne - It's a form of the name Anna and means "favor" or "grace."

7. Alex - A feminine form of the name Alexander which means "defender of men."

8. Ash - A tree name that is short for Ashley and has an English origin.

9. Blake - A name for either boys or girls and is shared by actressBlake Lively. The name has an English origin and, surprisingly, means both "fair-haired" and "dark."

10. Brooke - Of English and German origins and means "small stream."

11. Brynn - Welsh origin meaning "hill."

12. Bree - Means "noble, power" and has an Irish origin.

13. Britt - Swedish origin meaning "high goddess."

14. Blythe - Means "cheerful, joyful, pleasant" and has an English origin.

15. Bea - American origin meaning "bringer of happiness."

16. Bria - Italian origin meaning "vigor, liveliness."

17. Beth - Hebrew roots and means "house."

18. Chloe - Greek origin meaning "blooming" or "fertility."

19. Claire - French origin meaning "bright, clear."

20. Cara - Irish name meaning "friend."

21. Char - A French feminine name that is a variation of Chardonnay, Charlene and Charlotte and means "free man".

22. Cora - Greek origin meaning "maiden" or "daughter."

23. Cheryl - English origin meaning "dear, beloved, friend, love."

24. Chris - Latin origin meaning "follower of Christ."

Related: A-Z List Of Short Boy Names That Are Simple And Sweet

25. Demi - French origin meaning "half" or "small."

26. Dory - French origin meaning "gift of God."

27. Deb - Short for the Hebrew name Deborah and means "bee."

28. Dawn - English origin meaning "sunrise."

29. Dani - Of English origin and means "God is my judge."

30. Drew - Best known from actressDrew Barrymore, this name means "wise" and is of Welsh origins.

31. Dana - English origin meaning "gift" or "wise."

32. Dara - Irish origin meaning "pearl of wisdom."

33. Dia - Spanish origin meaning "divine."

34. Didi - Means "older sister" and is of Indian origin.

35. Dina - Arabic origin meaning "sweet, precious, darling, gift from God."

36. Dee - Welsh origin meaning "swarthy, dark."

37. Emma - English name meaning "universal" or "whole."

38. Evie - Hebrew origin meaning "life."

39. Ella - This name has many origins and meanings. In Hebrew, it means "goddess."

40. Eden - Hebrew origin meaning "place of pleasure."

41. Eva - Hebrew origin meaning "life."

42. Elle - Means "she" and is of French origin.

43. Eve - Hebrew origin meaning "life."

44. Erin - Means "from the island to the west" and is of Irish origin.

45. Emmy - Means "work, universal" and has a German origin.

46. Elsa - German origin meaning "my God is bountiful."

47. Elin - Means "sunbeam" and has Dutch and Scandinavian roots.

48. Faith - Latin origin meaning "trust, faith."

49. Faye - English origin meaning "fairy."

50. Fern - Botanical name of English origin.

51. Flynn - Irish origin meaning "descendant of the red-haired man."

52. Fara - Means "lovely, pleasant" and is of English/Arabic origin.

Related: 150 Flower Names For Girls

53. Grace - Of Latin origin and means "goodness" and "generosity."

54. Gwen - Welsh origin meaning "white, holy."

55. Gail - Hebrew origin that is derived from Abigail and means "my father rejoices."

56. Gina - Greek and Italian origins and means "queen."

57. Gabi- Means "woman of God" and has a Hebrew origin.

58. Hope - English origin meaning "desire of fulfillment."

59. Halo - Means "divine light" and has a Greek origin.

60. Hayes - English origin meaning "hedged area."

61. Hana- Spanish origins meaning "happiness" or "flower."

62. Heart - English origin meaning "love" or "passion."

63. Ivy - British origin and signifies "faithfulness."

64. Iris - Greek origin meaning "rainbow."

65. Izzy - Means "God's promise" and has a Hebrew origin.

66. Ira - Hebrew origins meaning "watchful."

67. Ida - German origin meaning "industrious one."

68. Ilsa - Has German, Spanish and Dutch origins and means "pledged to God."

69. Jess - Hebrew origin meaning "gift of God."

70. Jill - Comes from the name Gillian and means "child of the gods."

71. Jen - English origin meaning "fair phantom."

72. Jo - Hebrew origin meaning "God is gracious."

73. Jan - Means "God is gracious" and is of Hebrew origin.

74. Jane - English origin meaning "God is gracious."

75. Jazz - Nickname for Jasmine and means "gift from God."

76. Judy - Hebrew origin meaning "He will be praised."

Related: 125 Old Fashioned Baby Names That Are Making A Major Comeback

77. Kari - Norway origin meaning "pure."

78. Kat - English origin meaning "pure."

79. Kaci - American origin meaning "alert" or "watchful."

80. Kim - Short for Kimberly and means "of the clearing of the royal fortress."

81. Kate - Greek and English origins meaning "pure."

82. Khloe - Greek origin meaning "blooming."

83. Kali - Indian origin that means "a maiden, a bud."

84. Kya - Means "diamond in the sky" and is of African origin.

85. Kara - Italian origin meaning "beloved."

86. Kass - Means "catcher of men" and has an English origin.

87. Kyra - Greek origin meaning "lady."

88. Kori - Greek origin meaning "maiden."

89. Lori - American origin meaning "she knows."

90. Lyla - Hebrew name meaning "dark" or "night."

91. Lily - English origin meaning "purity, innocence."

92. Lucy - English and Latin origins meaning "light."

93. Lola - Spanish name meaning "sorrows."

94. Lexi - A diminutive of Alexis that means "man's defender."

Originally posted here:

A-Z List of 200 Short Girl Names That Are All Sugar and Spice - Parade Magazine

13: The Musical Is the Perfect Jewish Family Night Movie – Kveller.com

Posted By on August 13, 2022

The phrase Josh Peck plays a rabbi in it could get me to watch literally anything. But Netflixs 13: The Musical is more than just a good avenue for the Jewish dad to show off his Hebrew skills (a hearty kol hakavod to him) its also the perfect Jewish family night movie.

Regardless of denomination, being Jewish is all about family, chosen or genetic. I mean, what other religion has this many holidays that revolved around a family meal in addition to weekly Shabbat dinners?! Considering that, the modern family tradition of the movie night feels like it should be super Jewish and yet there just arent a lot of explicitly Jewish movies to watch.

In fact, back in January of this year, I tried to make a list of Jewish movies for Jewish family nights. Sharing my love for movies with my kids brings me so much joy. But only a few family-oriented movies actually have Jewish themes the basketball drama Full-Court Miracle which centers on Hanukkah, An American Tail about a Jewish immigrant mouse (though you could easily miss that tidbit), The Prince of Egypt, the Rugrats holiday specials (all very very good) and perhaps, also Fiddler, make up the entirety of explicitly Jewish, specifically family-oriented films on that list. I will not even go into the amount of Christmas kids and family movies out there, because do we have the time?

Enter the protagonist of 13: The Musical: Evan Goldman, played by Jewish actor Eli Golden. Here is a Jewish character who plainly loves being Jewish. There is no conflict for him about whether or not he wants to have a bar mitzvah, or whether a bar mitzvah is cool. In fact, he calls it the Jewish Super Bowl is there anything more exciting than that?

Evans entire concern during the movie is getting in with the cool crowd in his new small town so that he can have the same exciting over-the-top bar mitzvah that he imagined having in New York before his parents divorced and he and his mother Jessica (played by Debra Messing) had to move back to her childhood home. And while the bar mitzvah at the culmination of the movie is hardly the expensive opulent party his Manhattan crowd is used to, it is grand.

Many bar and bat mitzvah scenes in TV and film skip over the actual Hebrew part of the service, let alone the reading of the haftorah the weekly portion. But in 13: The Musical, Evan beautifully sings a line from Isaiah in Hebrew in a way that feels so reverential and beautiful, and it, along with the movies final song, really brings it all home.

13: The Musical is plain good Jewish representation. No character is reduced to a Jewish stereotype. Thats especially true when it comes to the two main Jewish mothers of the movie Messings Jessica and Rhea Perlmans grandma Ruth.

Jessica, particularly, is a full-fledged character, trying to find her footing after her divorce and revisit her childhood dream of being a writer while also trying to figure out how to best parent her teen in his new social environment.

Both Jessica and Ruth are very involved in their kids life which yes, sometimes can translate into being overbearing. But they are ultimately incredibly close and care about their childs happiness more than anything.

At Jessicas most difficult moment, the place she wanted to be was in the comfort of her mothers loving gaze (which Perlman really aces) at home. Theres something so lovely about that.

Then theres Rabbi Shapiro, played by the aforementioned and very iconic Josh Peck. Theres no way not to be obsessed with this snarky, affectionate, tell-it-like-it-is rabbi character. The surrogate father figure that he becomes for Evan in a turbulent post-divorce time is really sweet, and the truths he dishes about prep for your bnai mitzvah are pretty spot on you find a 6000-year-old language confusing, now I see the problem, he says in one scene. You thought this would be easy, thats just bad intel.

13: The Musical is a movie about Jewish family, Jewish pride and Jewishlove. Its also about making mistakes, learning from them and acknowledging that you can still make more. Judaism is all about that every year at Yom Kippur, we have to come to terms with the wrongs we have done to others and apologize. Jessica, Evan and the other kids all mess up and try to do better.

After he finishes chanting his haftorah, Evan sings A Little More Homework to Do, a song about how his learning and growing isnt over and isnt that what Jewish thought and Jewish tradition is all about? (OK, Im oversimplifying it, but also, this is a kids musical were talking about.)

As Jews, we havent gotten a lot of movies catered to us that also celebrate Jewish joy (there are plenty of somber Holocaust movies out there). 13: The Musical has enough Jewish reverence and specificity to entice a Jewish audience, and enough fun storytelling and music to entrance the non-Jewish crowd as well. For non-Jews, its also a nice primer about what a bar mitzvah is really about. As Messing told me in my interview with her: This is the first time that a Jewish kid, you know, has to perform, and they have to do it alone. And the movie really brings that point home.

Is 13: The Musical a perfect movie? No, hardly. Nitpickers may find the dialogue schmaltzy, the choice of buying your bagels at Zabars sus (thats me! Im the nitpicker!) or find other flaws in what is, without any doubt, no arthouse film.

And yet, watching a kid wearing a kippah being celebrated in a big Netflix musical, singing his heart out and finding joy in Jewish ritual while making all the Jewish kids like him our kids feel seen? Thats priceless.

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13: The Musical Is the Perfect Jewish Family Night Movie - Kveller.com

Seeds of Consolation: Open-Eyed Torah for a Friend – Patheos

Posted By on August 13, 2022

By Naomi Gurt Lind

Parashat Vaetchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)

Parashat Vaetchananbegins with Moshe deep in his feelings, as he recalls pleading with God to be allowed to enter into the Promised Land. He has devoted his life to his people, has endured hardship and frustration, conquered self-doubt and overwork, only to find that at the end of his life he will not get to see the task come to fruition. InDeuteronomy 3:25, early in the parashah, he says:

Please let me cross, so I can see the good land which is across the Jordan, that good mountain, and Lebanon besides.

You can hear in the first word of this verse ebrah na the way his plea almost catches in his throata sob, maybe, or the return of the stammer he overcame to grow into leadership. This ishardfor him. Letting go is so hard.

When the answer to his supplication comes back from God, the same root lettersayin,bet,reshappear:

And God was cross with me, on your account, and would not hear me.And God said to me, You are too much. Dont say another word to Me about this matter.

Moshe never gets the answer he is hoping for; his transgression (aveirah, anotherayin-bet-reshword) is deemed too great. Nonetheless, he composts his devastation at the lost opportunity and returns to his task. He doesnt get to cross over, but nonetheless, he teaches us how. Sometimes disruptionseven catastrophic onescan point the way.

This seems an apt message at this moment in the Jewish calendar.Parashat Vaetchananis always closely paired withTisha bAv, the holiday commemorating the destruction of the Temples along with many other calamities throughout Jewish history.Tisha bAvis the culmination of the season of admonition in our liturgical calendar, which traces the mounting horror of the three weeks from 17Tammuzto 9Avin the year 70 CE, as Roman invaders breached the walls of Jerusalem, laid siege, and eventually reduced the Second Temple to rubble.

Our observance ofTisha bAvis leavened, finally, in the afternoon hours, when tradition teaches thatMoshiach(The Messiah) is born. The seeds of consolation are planted in the soil of the worst catastrophes, watered with our tears. Within the week comesShabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Comfort, and we are making our waysobered, changedtoward wholeness again. It is our job to sift through the ashes of the ruined city and find a reason to go on.

Parashat Vaetchananis bathed in resilience and faith. Despite his disappointment, Moshe takes up the thread of instructing the Israelites in how to acquit themselves to the longed-for privilege that he will never share in. He reminds them of mistakes along the way and of the slow-acting reward of staying true to core beliefs. InDeuteronomy 4:3, we read about the fate of some Israelites who backslid into idolatry. By contrast, the next verse teaches:

But you who stuck with Adonai your God, each and every one of you is alive today.

This verse, familiar from our Torah Service, bespeaks the value of holding on in faith when things seem to be crumbling all around you. Faith keeps us alive as a people, even as individuals die. Holding onto our essential beliefs, as articulated inDeuteronomy 5:6-18in (Aseret Hadibrot, commonly translated as The Ten Commandments), is fundamental both to our relationship with God and to our survival.

Then in chapter 6 we encounter possibly the most famous words in all of Jewish tradition, a stark declaration of faith, as succinct as a haiku (which it also is):

Listen, O Israel! Adonai is our God, Adonai is One.(Deuteronomy 6:4)

In the Torah scrolls, there is something interesting with the calligraphy: theayinof the word shema and thedaletof the word echad are larger than the other letters. There are no accidents or mistakes in Torah, only opportunities for deeper meaning to emerge. What could be behind these oversized letters? What magic do they hold?

Chizkuni (13th century France) suggests that theayinis a reference to the way God created the world. Usinggematria(Hebrew numerology), Chizkuni links theayinto the number 70, and places each element of creation into a long chain of seventies: Israel is one of seventy nations, which is one seventieth of the number of four-legged beasts on the earth, which is one seventieth of the number of birds, and so on. Chizkuni writes, in part:

The Blessed Holy One engages in creation with ayin ayin.

Rereading Chizkuni, we might say that God created the world with both eyes open (another meaning forayinis eye)knowing that there would be pain and brokenness, and that through faith, humanity would fumble through and cope. With our eyes open, we can see the struggles of others. With our eyes open, we can see where our society can be more righteous. With our eyes open, we can see the beauty of this incredible planet, and pledge ourselves to treat it with tenderness.

Rabbinical student Lea Andersen, who died just a few days ago, was one of the most open-eyed people I have ever encountered. A gifted teacher, a warm pastoral presence, a passionate activist and more, Lea turned away from nothing and nobody. Her fierce and spacious Torah was a gift to the world, and those of us who knew her and learned from her, even a little, are sobered and changed because of it. Tragically, Lea will not see her lifes task come to fruition. I offer these teachings in her memory and in the hopes of inspiring more of us to see the struggles of others, see where our society can be more righteous, see the beauty of this incredible planet. Most of all, may we pledge ourselves to treat itand one anotherwith tenderness.

Naomi Gurt Lind is a rising Shanah Gimel student at theRabbinical School of Hebrew College, and is looking forward to rabbinic internships this year with 2Life Communities and Betenu Congregation. Naomi is an Innovation Lab grant recipient, a member of the inaugural cohort of Mayyim Rabbim fellows atMayyim HayyimCommunity Mikveh, and the editor of the 70 Faces of Torah blog. When she has a free moment, she enjoys solving crossword puzzles (in pencil!), writing divrei Torah on her blog, Jewish Themes, and playing Bananagrams with her spouse and their two genius children.

Here is the original post:

Seeds of Consolation: Open-Eyed Torah for a Friend - Patheos


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