JACOB, ESAU AND THANKSGIVING

For Jews, Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—is two months past. But Thanksgiving is days off, and all Americans might bear in mind a story from Torah that suggests we pay attention to atonement daily. Jacob, the younger twin of Isaac and Rebecca, purchases his brother Esau’s birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. Deduct points…

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MOSES’ DEATH AND REBIRTH

Moses died this past week. Unlike the rest of us, he’ll soon come back to life. This testifies to nearly 3,000 years of Jews venerating the written word. Last Tuesday night/Wednesday marked Simchat Torah—Joy of the Torah. Ashkenazi Jews complete the annual Torah cycle, reading V’zot Hab’rachah (Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12) and starting anew with the first…

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REMEMBERING HERB

My brother-in-law Herb Zaks (z”l) died on July 27. Married to my sister Kay for 61 years, he was 85. But this isn’t the end. We met when Herb was 21, me 13. He became a big brother, always supportive. We loved sports and went to Yankees games with my father’s weekend and holiday tickets.…

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A BLEAK AMERICAN FUTURE?

The New Yorker titled a May 27 article by Susan Glasser, “American Democracy Isn’t Dead Yet, But It’s Getting There.” Hyperbole? Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan commission to examine the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.  At a Memorial Day weekend QAnon-affiliated conference,…

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LESSONS OF MOUNT MERON

A stampede at a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) religious festival in Israel last week resulted in 45 deaths and many more injuries. The tragedy took place on Mount Meron across from the city of Ts’fat (Saphed), center of Jewish spiritualism. What can we learn? One hundred thousand Haredim—all male, teenagers included—gathered to celebrate Lag B’omer, a festive break…

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