Blogs

Wear A Mask For Merriment, Never Because Of Embarrassment!

Purim is fun, and food, and noise, but there is also a serious side to Purim. Before Esther reveals her Jewish identity to the king, she hides behind a mask of anonymity, one of many in the harem. Only after she speaks as Esther, the Jew, does she speak honestly, with her own voice. Her power comes from the honesty in her own voice and not behind her mask.

Many of us, especially in the special needs world, learn to live behind masks.

Rabbi Daniel Grossman

Prayer Songs

When I was younger, I strived to emulate my two older brothers. I did so in many ways, but I particularly wanted to mimic their passion for playing an instrument. Others told me that I was too young and should wait a year or two to begin. Then Rebecca Teplow took one look at my fingers, after her piano lesson with my eldest brother, and told me that now was a perfect time to begin. I was thrilled.

Rebecca Teplow. Photo courtesy Hoebermann Studio

In Memoriam: Ambassador Sam Lewis

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Samuel Lewis, who died Tuesday at 84, was "the essential American at Camp David" negotiations between Israel and Egypt because "he was the only one who really understood the Israelis," said Graeme Bannerman, former staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  "Without his vociferous explanation of Israeli concerns and constraints, the American delegation may not have been able to develop a balanced position."

From Nachlaot To New York

Rav Raz Hartman is usually found in a crowded shul in Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood, reached by a steep staircase. His shul fuses music and mysticism, attracting Jews across the denominational and sartorial spectrum. A Jerusalem hipster may be swaying next to someone dressed in a flowing white robe.

Rav Raz Hartman at Mechon Hadar. Courtesy of Mechon Hadar

Movements Join Together At Yachad Shabbaton

Young adults with disabilities do not often get to enjoy Shabbat on a college campus with peers, but that's exactly what happened in early February when five Ramah campers, and four staff members, reunited at Brandeis for a Shabbaton.

What made the get-together even more special was that they were joining a large gorup of Yachad members and advisors for the annual New England Yachad Shabbaton. Yachad is a program of the Orthodox Union, members of all Jewish denominations are embraced and have the opportunity to engage with Judaism in their own ways.

Brandeis Shabbaton

Purim Resources

Editors Note: Gateways in Boston offers programs and services to children with special needs and educational challenges in Greater Boston's Jewish day schools, congregational and community supplemental schools and Jewish preschools, as well as Gateways’ own Sunday school, B'nei Mitzvah preparation program and teen youth group. They also share free, downloadable resources. Here we are highlighting their Purim resources for children with special learning needs.

Cakes and Miracles: a beautiful story about a boy who is blind, and an amazingly talented baker. Via matankids.org

Winds Of War Or Just Hot Air?

The Russian seizure of the Crimea may be one of the most serious international crises in years and should stimulate serious foreign policy debate in Washington.

Instead, there's just more of same old political posturing and partisan bickering as both the President and his critics are fumbling around looking clueless.

Vayikra: Parenting And 'Perfection'

After Moses anoints the Tent of Appointed Meeting and the Priests who will officiate there, God speaks to him:

Explain to the sons of Israel the ways of bringing offerings to God. There will be offerings of animals and grains and fruit. Animals for sacrifice shall be male and without blemish. These animals shall be killed and washed and burned so each shall smoke on the altar in the Tent of Appointed Meeting. This will be for an ascent offering, an offering made by fire in expression of compliance to God and to make atonement before God.

When A Paranormal Romance Meets Holocaust Literature

Just when you think every possible angle of the Holocaust has been explored in literature, ad infinitum, along comes “The Color of Light” (Stony Creek Press) by Helen Maryles Shankman, a tale of art school, the Holocaust, and yes—vampires.

Via helenmarylesshankman.com

The Death Of The Synagogue Newsletter; Long Live The Synagogue Newsletter

As anyone who has ever donated to a nonprofit organization or synagogue knows, every donated dollar counts and some count more than others. While every organization needs support for overhead costs, donors want to know the organizations they support are as efficient as possible and put as much money as possible toward the direct pursuit of their mission. So we wonder how much of that $18 donation to your favorite local organization or congregation goes into a card thanking you, or whoever you have honored with your gift.

A screenshot of the weekly newsletter from Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Courtesy of Rabbi Jason Miller
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