As the youngest of three sisters, I agree wholeheartedly with Miriam Arond, who writes in this issue that sisters are one of the great gifts of life. In these fall weeks when the cycle of Torah readings turns to the stories of Genesis, Text/Context investigates the deep and complicated relationships among siblings. In a terrific new book of essays, “Freud’s Blind Spot: Writers on Siblings” edited by Elisa Albert, novelist Nellie Herman writes, “The story of my siblings is the story of who I am.”
How good and how pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in harmony.
— Psalms. 133: 1
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” is perhaps the best known line about siblings. This month, Text/Context investigates the deep bonds between sisters and brothers, how sharing parents can lead to friendship and love, rivalry and complications, high drama too. Our writers look to the Bible, to literary history and to personal experience.
In the last century, the following sentence would have caused heads to explode: Author Anita Diamant, Jewish feminist and a lifelong member of Reform congregations, is a founder and president of Mayyim Hayyim, Living Waters Community Mikveh in Newton, Mass., which opened in 2004.
Today, the equation feminist + Reform = mikveh raises barely an eyebrow.
Is pumping water into the Dead Sea saving or destroying it?
Special to the Jewish Week
Five years ago, Israeli geologist Eli Raz fell into a Dead Sea sinkhole, a crater in the earth caused by topsoil or bedrock erosion. As he waited for a rescue team to arrive—which ultimately took 14 hours—Raz, who lives at Kibbutz Ein Gedi and works for the Dead Sea and Arava Science Center, kept a diary of the ordeal on a roll of toilet paper he had with him.
“U-sh’avtem mayim b’sasson mima’ayenei hayeshu’a”—“And you shall draw water in joy and gladness from the wells of salvation.” The words of the Prophet Isaiah provide the lyrics for Emanuel Amiran’s best-known song from the Yishuv, the Jewish community in pre-state Palestine—and for the Israeli folk dance that everyone knows.
I sat waiting for her on a bench on a traffic island situated between the northbound and southbound lanes of Broadway, about a block away from the Upper West Side mikveh. Wearing my Shabbat clothes, with a yarmulke on my head, I felt self-conscious, acutely aware of the questions I would ask if I saw someone like me, openly Orthodox, sitting and watching the traffic at the onset of Shabbat when I should have been in shul davening.
At 80, Israeli scientist Daniel Hillel thought his work with water management was behind him. But global warming has made it more necessary than ever.
If there is such a thing as rock star status in the world of soil physics, then Daniel Hillel has attained it. As a pioneer in the field, the 80-year-old Israeli scientist can still walk into a conference anywhere in the world and fall prey to a veritable stampede of oncoming fans. Graduate students, agricultural engineers, climatologists, political scientists—all of their work his has somehow affected.
The Talmudic sage Hillel was more radical and welcoming than many realize.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
Special to the Jewish Week
I was sitting with a rabbinic friend swapping stories about our lives and our work. He started talking about an encounter he had recently had: “A Jewish man, probably in his early 30s, and his non-Jewish girlfriend came to speak with me. They want to marry, but his parents are dead-set against their only son marrying a gentile.
I never gave much thought to the significance of rain until I moved to Miami. Rabbis in Miami face the High Holiday season with more than the usual rabbinic anxiety. In South Florida, the High Holiday season coincides with hurricane season. In the last three years of Florida living, I have reflected often on the ways in which Judaism invests rain with religious meaning. Prayers for rain mark the culmination of the High Holiday season.