Job Opening for Knesset Rabbi: Now Accepting Women Applicants

By Steven Beck

The Knesset in Jerusalem. Photo: Xiquinhosilva

For the first time in Israel’s history, a woman can apply for the position of Knesset Rabbi.

Several months ago, the Knesset published a tender for the position of Knesset Rabbi to replace the current rabbi who will be retiring in a few months. The tender required applicants to present a certificate from the Chief Rabbinate, a provision that excluded women from applying as they are barred from completing the Rabbinate’s certification exams.

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The Direction of Prayer

By Rabbi Chaim Galfand

Sunday, May 13, is Yom Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem Reunification Day. This Israeli national holiday celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 in the wake of the Six Day War. As we prepare to mark this occasion when the Kotel (Western Wall) and the entirety of the Old City came under Israeli control, it seems like a very appropriate time to answer a question that has been posed to me: why do Jews face east when they pray? [Read more…]

Remembering Barbara Bush in “the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”

On April 17, former First Lady Barbara Bush died at age 92. During her long and illustrious life, Mrs. Bush championed the cause of literacy — a passion that Bonnie Squires, board president of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice, had the privilege of witnessing in action. Squires covered the former first lady during a stop at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where Mrs. Bush was reading to a group of children. Squires specifically recalls the touching moment when the first lady put one of the children on her lap while she read. [Read more…]

Central High School and Israeli Druze Students Collaborate

—by Dani Neuman

After several months of communi­cating on the Internet, on April 22, a delegation from Amal’s Menachem Begin Compre­hensive High School in Safed and Amal’s Compre­hensive High School in the Druze village of Kisra Samia arrived in Phila­delphia to continue the entrepre­­­neurship project they began online with a team of science students from Central High School. [Read more…]

Lone Soldier Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance Day) Ceremony: The Sons We Lost

— by Sara Kalker

On Israel’s Memorial Day, which begins on the eve of April 17, 2018, the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin will commemorate the hundreds of lone soldiers from abroad who gave their lives for the independence and continuous survival of the State of Israel. These brave young men and women fell far away from their family and birthplace, often leaving very few people, if any, to visit their graves or commemorate their lives on this momentous day.

The Lone Soldier Center will bring together hundreds of people for a special Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance Day) ceremony: one that honors and remembers our fallen lone soldiers. This ceremony is the only Yom Hazikaron ceremony in Israel to be conducted in English that is open to the public and will be available by live-stream to communities around the world. Our aim is to strengthen the connection of English speaking immigrants, tourists and students in Israel and abroad to Israel’s Memorial Day and the stories of Israel’s heroes.

This year’s ceremony will feature the mothers of fallen lone soldiers Alex Singer, Michael Levin and Max Steinberg, z”l, and a musical performance by musician Shlomo Katz.

Free Breast Cancer Screening for Jews in Philadelphia

A team of leading experts in the fields of cancer research and genetics will soon launch the pilot phase of a new, independent research initiative in Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, and New York: the BRCA Founder Outreach Study (BFOR), which is designed to increase access to one of the most common tests for hereditary cancer. The study  is now open to those interested in participating, with potential enrollees to be contacted by email soon.

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Time is in Our Hands: Passover Devar Torah

Zodiac – Central Europe 1631. Photo courtesy of Jewish Theological Seminary Library.

By Rabbi Albert Gabbai

We are now in the month of Nissan, the month of our freedom from slavery in Egypt. We just read in the Torah this past Shabbat about the first mitzvah and commandment, which G0d gave to the Israelites as a nation: “This month will be to you the first of the months”.
The question is why does the Torah add the words “to you,” and not simply that “this month will be the first of the months?”
Our sages of blessed memory tell us that God gave the people the right to establish their own calendars; therefore, they determine when the holidays will occur. It is up to the Jewish leadership to establish the beginning of the lunar month and, in turn, the day on which, for instance, Passover will occur. In contrast,  Shabbat is not determined by anyone except by God, who created the universe in six-days and sanctified the seventh, the Shabbat. That day is not dependent on a calendar, but will happen every seventh day.

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Professor Posts Anti-Semitic Message on an Official University Site

Sixty organizations – Jewish, Christian, educational and civil-rights-focused – have demanded an immediate investigation of anti-Semitism at San Francisco State University (SFSU). For years, the campus has been a hostile environment for many in the university’s Jewish community. Jewish students have reported numerous acts of harassment, discrimination, intimidation and suppression of speech at the hands of anti-Zionist students and faculty. But this time, the discrimination is in plain view on a university social media platform. [Read more…]

Exodus From India to Israel

Little girl from India holding Israeli flag, makes aliyah to Israel. Photo: Shavei Israel

Little girl from India makes aliyah to Israel. Photo: Shavei Israel

Over 200 new immigrants came from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur to Israel.

The state, which is on the border with Burma, is home to the largest concentration of Bnei Menashe (Sons of Manassah) in India.

The new immigrants plan on settling in the Galilee, where many Bnei Menashe immigrants have made homes. They initially will reside in Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Kfar Hasidim, where they will formally convert to Judaism.

Upon arrival, the new immigrants will immediately begin preparing for Passover. [Read more…]

Passover: Our Story of Redemption

Rabbi Gregory S. Marx.

By Rabbi Gregory S. Marx

Every faith community has a story of redemption. But what we need to be redeemed from is what divides us.

The Buddhist believes that we need to be saved from suffering. The Buddha taught that all of life is suffering, and we must figure out a way to end craving. Our Christian brothers and sisters argue that it is sin that oppresses us.  They teach that faith alone can save.

Judaism also believes in redemption and being saved.  I remember a number of years ago someone erroneously saying to me, “The Jews do not need to be saved.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. We tell a story of redemption as well, but it is not from sin or suffering. It is from oppression.

The story of Passover is not a story that resonates in an ashram or in some exotic fashion. It is a story that reminds us that there are forces of oppression all around us. They drag us down and prevent us from being fully human.  We are saved by righteous action, or mitzvoth. We can redeem the world in partnership with God by living a life of goodness and mitzvoth.

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