Life

New Perspective From Charleston

June 25, 2015, by

The night of Wednesday, June 17, was a scary one in Charleston, South Carolina, where I live. Helicopters flew overhead all night and police cars patrolled the streets, as a murderer was believed to be at large in the city. Downtown residents were asked to turn on their porch lights to help police with the search, and

The Other Cheek

June 24, 2015, by

We are all familiar with the tragic details of the mass murder at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last week in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Roof murdered nine people at a Bible-study class in what was clearly a racially-motivated attack. Within 48 hours, family members of the victims had expressed forgiveness for their killer.

If We Want Freedom of Worship, Then We Need Freedom From Fear

June 24, 2015, by

News of last week’s terror attack — and that’s what it was — at the Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that left nine dead during a Bible study session has rightfully yielded both our outrage and our sorrow. In the African American community it has sounded echoes of the bleakest days of the 1960s. In the Jewish community, it called to mind

One Country That Loves Jews? Kurdistan

June 22, 2015, by

Here’s some good news amidst all rising anti-Semitism across Europe and the Middle East. One place that likes Jews? Kurdistan. The autonomous region in Iraq seems to be quite fond of Jews and Israel, according to this interesting (but all too short) op-ed in the Forward by Seth Frantzman. “Old peshmerga fighters cradling AK-47s reminisced

Jews in France Say Adieu

June 22, 2015, by

Jews are saying goodbye to the homeland of Rashi and his descendants at a higher rate than ever. In the wake of the horrific terrorist attack that killed four in a Paris kosher supermarket, 25 percent more Jews left to make Aliyah than the year before at this time. In 2014, 4,000 Jews left France

Superheroes in Jewish Thought and Law Part II

June 22, 2015, by

(This is the second part of a three-part series. To read the first part of Rabbi Student’s discussion of the halachas of superpowers, click here.) III. Super Murder As a thought experiment, I was wondering what Jewish law would say about specific super powers. For example, if a Jedi or Sith kills someone with a

Don’t Put Off Having the Talk

June 22, 2015, by

This article was originally published on the Boca Raton Synagogue blog. When I was a kid, the most difficult and awkward conversation between parents and children was the talk about “the birds and the bees.” Due to the Internet, increasingly graphic pop culture and explicit billboards and ads, today’s children can be considered precocious in

Ask Aviva: Selfless Summer

June 17, 2015, by

Dear Aviva, I am a teacher in a special education school and look forward to the summer every year. My job takes a lot out of me, but it is also very gratifying. One of the things that get me through the year is anticipating my summer vacation. The problem is that year after year the

What’s in a Name? Ancient Inscription Discovered in Israel

June 17, 2015, by

We may never know who Eshba’al Ben Bada was but his name, recently discovered on a 3,000-year-old piece of pottery, provides us with a link to the distant past. The pottery, painstakingly rebuilt after being discovered in Khirbet Qeiyafain in the Valley of Elah in 2012, contains Eshba’al’s name in an ancient Canaanite script. Scholars

How to End the Wars of Hatred

Today in the Middle East, there is a revolution against secularism of two different kinds. The first is the secular nationalism of Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak in Egypt, Assad in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq – all regimes widely seen to be corrupt and oppressive. The second is the secular culture of the West,