FREEDOM AND WATER 

The Israelites fleeing Egypt, and Albert Sobel, the transgender protagonist of my novel Lola Flores, share something in common. Their freedom requires traversing or immersion in a body of water, source of life. Following the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites find themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Reed Sea. “Then Moses held his arm over…

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WELCOME TO THE GRAY ZONE 

Americans hoping Ukraine can resist Vladimir Putin share a common trait with many of the most memorable characters in the Hebrew Bible. This may discomfort us. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, David, Solomon all exhibit real flaws. (David takes Bathsheba to wife after sending her soldier-husband, Uriah the Hittite,…

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WHEN SMALL STUFF IS BIG 

A 6th-century mosaic, an ancient proverb and this week’s Torah portion all relate to a recent post, “Hopping Off the Treadmill.” They comfort me. The colorful mosaic map on the floor of the Church of St. George in Madaba, Jordan—I was there—details the Holy Land, particularly Jerusalem. Originally, it contained more than two million small…

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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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