I wasn’t alive to read the news of crematoria constructed to burn Jewish bodies in Europe during the Shoah. I wasn’t alive to witness the palpable dread and concern the world must have felt as news washed upon the shores of this land of freedom and security. I wasn’t alive to urge our leaders to act swiftly or to pray for the safety of those whose lives were in mortal danger.
Raising a child today is exciting, daunting, and certainly all-consuming. As a young parent myself, some days the goal is just to make sure the kids are dressed with matching clothes, let alone making sure my suit doesn’t have any stains on it! Loftier goals like providing your child with a strong sense of self and a deep connection to the Jewish people seem far off, but dreaming and acting for them begins even at the earliest stages of development.
This Saturday evening and Sunday we will gather, dress in costumes, revel with music and food, and hear the story of Esther and Mordechai, Achashverosh and Haman. In the center of the story, Mordechai speaks to Esther, now the queen of Persia, and appeals to her so she may help save the Jews who have been threatened with annihilation of genocidal proportion.
In 1969, Norma Rosen was one of the brave firsts who began to fictionalize the experience of the Holocaust. More than a dramatization of events, the writings of Rosen and others like her dared to enter into a universe of curiosity. Novelists cautiously embarked on quests to discover the deep truths lying dormant in the lives of survivors and historians.
The King and I, the fourth longest running show on Broadway, is playing at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood these days. It’s marvelous to see how a classic production from 1950 can still speak with a modern idiom, and how the messages it conveys are particularly relevant even today.
Last week, I had the privilege of meeting King Eze Chukwuemeka Eri, the Nigerian Hebrew king on his visit to Southern California. The King was attended by three men who represented the local Igbo Hebrew community, where approximately 30 million Africans in Eastern Nigeria live.
This summer, I was privileged to participate in the annual Rabbinic Training Seminar (RTS) at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. The seminar is a 10 day learning experience which brings rabbis and scholars from around the world to study, reflect, sing, and dream together while exploring complicated issues facing the Jewish world today.
Who do you look up to? What qualities or experiences does this person possess that inspire you to be better person? These are always good questions to ask, but they are especially meaningful as Memorial Day approaches this coming Monday.
Avadim Hayyinu v’Atah B’nai Choreen - “Now We Are Free People”
These five Hebrew words are the centerpiece of the Passover Seder. In translation, we say “We were slaves. Now we’re free.” (Maybe there’s the addition to this proclamation in your home too, ‘We’re hungry. Now, let’s eat!’)