In the traditional Jewish spiral of Torah reading, we will soon start the Book of Exodus -- the transformational story of successful resistance to slavery. As the British Army band played the song when the American Revolution became victorious, this book is a story of “The World Turned Upside Down.” Maybe the first such story. Maybe even the story that in... read more.
Jewish worshipers chant every Sabbath morning, "The soul of every living being shall praise God’s name" (Nishmat kol chai t’varech et shim’chah). Yet, some come to synagogue during winter months wearing coats that required the cruel treatment of some of those living beings whose souls, we declare, praise God. Should Jews wear fur? Several factors should be considered: 1. What does the Jew... read more.
by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen And so we arrive at the last night of Hanukkah, we fill the hanukkiahwith candles, eight candles for eight nights, plus the shamash, or helper candle. Once again we kindle the shamash, and then we kindle all of these eight candles. Our homes and our hearts fill with the light from so many candles... read more.
Hanukkah Day 7 - Healing Hurts and Promoting Well-being by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen Jewish tradition teaches that we are each to light our own hanukkiah - or Hanukkah candelabrum, and that even children should have their own. Lighting the hanukkiah is one of those mitzvot (commandments) that we can only do for ourselves.... read more.
For a long time, I have been trying to start a respectful dialogue in the Jewish community. Because I have had very little success, I am presenting the fictional dialogue below. I hope that many readers will use it as the basis of similar dialogues with local rabbis, educators, and community leaders. If you do, please let me know how it turns out. Thanks. Jewish Vegetarian Activist: Shalom ra... read more.
by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen A major aspect of the Hanukkah story is the message about identity - who was willing and ready to go with the flow of the surrounding culture and who was willing to fight in order to retain a Jewish identity and all that went with it. Hanukkah sends an enduring message about not assimilating. So many are the ways w... read more.
by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen Another aspect of the observance of Hanukkah is that the lights from the hanukkiah are considered sacred, and we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them. (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 21b) In other words, we shouldn't sit in an otherwise darkened room and read by the light of the candles from the hanuk... read more.
Hanukkah Day 4 - Diminishing Despair and Growing Trust and Faith by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen Jewish tradition teaches us to take our time when we recite a blessing before doing a mitzvah (commandment). "Time should be taken to pause and consider the kindness of G!d or the gift of a mitzvah opportunity in which one is about to be involved." ... read more.
Hanukkah Day 3 - Eviscerating Guilt by Responding with Action by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen The rabbis of the Talmud were concerned that the miracle of Hanukkah be publicized, so the tradition grew up to put thehanukkiah (Hanukkah candelabrum) in the window, for all to see. But the family is also to gather together, each one lighting his or her ownhanukkiah... read more.
by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen In the Talmud (Shabbat 21b), the rabbis discuss how to light thehanukkiah - the Hanukkah candelabrum. The famous sages Hillel and Shammai disagree as to whether we should start with eight candles and day by day diminish the number we light until on the last day of Hanukkah there is only one candle (plus the shamash, or h... read more.