Jew By Voice

A monthly column on Jewish community dynamics by teacher and scholar Erica Brown.

The Image Of The Finger Of God

Special To The Jewish Week

Candlelighting, Readings:
Shabbat candles: 5:16 p.m.
Torah: Exodus 30:11-34:35
Haftarah: I Kings 18:20-39
Havdalah: 6:16 p.m.

Erica Brown

The Shelf Life Of Jewish Peoplehood

Special To The Jewish Week

The word “peoplehood” is a relatively new and highly contested term in the lexicon of Jewish life, having something to do with identity, ethnicity, belonging and membership. The supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary acknowledged it as a word as long ago as 1983, but, as any spell-check reveals, it is not considered a word quite yet by Microsoft. Will it ever be a real word for the Jewish community? Having co-authored a book on the subject, I’m still not sure.

Jacob’s Unfinished Business

Special To The Jewish Week

Candlelighting, Readings:
Candles: 4:12 p.m.
Torah: Gen. 47:28-50:26
Haftarah: I Kings 2:1-12
Shabbat ends: 5:16 p.m.


In this week’s Torah reading, Vayechi, Jacob lies on his deathbed, blessing his sons with predictive statements about their futures. When Joseph comes near, the elderly patriarch “summoned his strength” to leave him with one last message. What does this dying man, in his last moments, behest to his most beloved son?

Erica Brown

Season Of Scandals

Special To The Jewish Week

If it’s hot enough to barbecue, it must be hot enough to commit a crime. How else are we to explain the rash of scandals with Jews at their center that have hit us now for the third summer in a row? In the first weeks of August, Eliyahu Weinstein of Lakewood, N.J., was charged by federal agents for his involvement in a $200 million Ponzi scheme and could face more than 50 years in prison.

Making A Jewish Case For Giving

Reviewing the laws of charity leads to educated philanthropy.

Staff WriterSpecial to The Jewish Week

If our destinies in the coming year can be changed by repentance, prayer and charity, then let’s start out with the easiest of the three: tzedakah. With minimal effort we can help the many organizations and individuals who ask us for assistance at this season. After all, we are mandated by Jewish law to give a tenth of our earnings to charity. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the Jewish community takes this practice seriously.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs’ book combines a liberal emphasis on social action with a respect for traditional Jewish sources.

My Year Of Reading Books

Special To The Jewish Week

I’ve just finished Binyamin Cohen’s book, “My Jesus Year.” Cohen, the son of a rabbi, spent a year of Sundays and holidays visiting churches and Evangelical gatherings in search of ways to revitalize his Judaism. Whether or not it worked is hard to say but he, like so many authors today, picked the arbitrary time period of a year for a personal experiment resulting in a book.

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