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L’fi Dati, Archived Editions

The Rabbi’s commentaries on Jewish life and Torah portion are featured in our weekly publication, Kane Street Connections, and its predecessor (published monthly between 2009 and 2012), Kane Yirbu.

More recent commentaries can been found in the sidebar of this page.

A message from Rabbi Weintraub
April 2014

Yizkor: The How of Jewish Memory
Our Torah in an unique and essential way is a book of history. While the sacred texts of other ancient religions are often written as poetry, epic sagas, or collections of maxims, the Torah is almost entirely the prosaic story of our ancient father and mothers from Abraham and Sarah through the forty year desert wandering.

It is very strange then that there is no word in classical Hebrew for “history”. There is no Mitzvah in the Bible to research, and not much attention is given to recounting. There are however numerous mitzvot, commandments in which we are bidden lizkor to remember. Memory is the central value, not history.

How do we remember? How do we keep lit the Ner Tamid, the eternal light of our tradition? Is it by knowledge of facts, people, wars and regimes? Is it by surveys and courses?

Jewish memory lives in the heart. When we remember, we don’t just recall events that happened to someone else. We feel a claim that they make on us. So the Haggadah famously teaches, “In every generation, one must see oneself as if he or she personally came out of Egypt”.

One of the most well attended Jewish services is Yizkor, our memorial prayers for the dead. The Hebrew root Z CH R means to remember but the term Yizkor often refers to the future. G-d Yizkor/remembered Noah and brought him and his household out of the Ark. G-d Yizkor/remembered the cries of the Israelite slaves and planned their liberation. We remember not just to learn past events, but to direct ourselves towards a more just future.

We rightfully consider it a tragedy when a person forgets his or her childhood friends, brothers, sisters, or earliest, formative experiences. It is no less a tragedy when the struggles and the faith of our forbears is derided or lost.

We have now, through digital technology, massive information easily available about our family backgrounds and genealogies. Yet the children I speak to these days are less aware of their family histories then my pre-internet childhood friends, fifty years ago, in our first generation Jewish community in Washington, DC.

Passover challenges this amnesia. As all Jewish ritual, it does so in a paradoxical way. By conserving and hallowing the old, we bolster our ability to change. We remember that a fractious, powerless and errant pack of slaves took on an empire. To quote Jerusalem philosopher Rabbi David Hartman, of blessed memory, “the act of protest against (our) environment can occur because the Jews possess a memory of the impossible that became possible”.

At Pesach, we take this epic, world changing story of the Exodus and bring it into the hearts and minds of amcha, of Jews of all ages and all literacy. The bridge must be personal. Who from the Jewish past can you bring into your Seder? What hero, heroine, or story has inspired you, or helped you through a vulnerable time? Who would you set up as a model for your children? What Jewish struggle might you research and teach at this year’s Seder? What knowledge or insight do you have this year that you did not have last year? What would you like to learn?

Chag Kasher V’samei’ach, a Happy and Kosher Pesach!

Rabbi Weintraub

January 2014
Li’fi Dati: Uniting Jewish Culture and Jewish Belief

Frequently, I have conversations with Jews whom I love and respect, inside our Synagogue and out, in which my friend poses some version of the following:

“Rabbi, I like the community, but I’m just not into services.  I’m more into the culture.”

“I often like often what you have to say, but I’m a cultural Jew, not religious.”

“Rabbi, don’t take it personally. You and the Synagogue have been there for me and my family at very important times, but my identity is about family and food and customs, not about belief.”

I’m the last person to underestimate the importance, demands and uniqueness of our faith.  It holds forth very particular ideas about G-d, human nature, redemption, the future of humanity, and more.   As a Conservative Jew, our commitments include a sweeping network of ethical and ritual commandments, which govern everything we do from washing our hands upon arising to preparing for bed at night.  READ MORE HERE

Rabbi’s Teachings 2013
2013.01 – What We Can Learn from Sandy Hook
2013.02 – Jewish Response to Global Warming
2013.03 – Li’fi Dati: Changes in Shabbat Services.pdf
2013.04 – On Passover and Israel.pdf
2013.09 – The Choice Is Ours
2013.11 – Aging with Honor and Happiness
2013.12 – Preschool Chanukah letter

Rabbi’s Teachings 2012
2012.01 – Story of Exodus – Change in the World
2012.02 – Ask The Rabbi
2012.03 – Purim And Tzedaka
2012.04 – All These Miracles
2012.05 – Jewish Tradition And The Voice Of Conscience
2012.06 – Stop and Frisk
2012.07 – Shiva Asar B’Tammuz
2012.09 – Open Beit Midrash
2012.10. – The Joy and Obligation of Hospitality
2012.11 – Changes to Shabbat Morning Services
2012.12 – Hurricane Sandy and Teshuva

Rabbi’s Teachings 2011
September & October 2011 – When We—and the World—Are Aroused From Slumber

Rabbi’s Teachings 2010
November 5, 2010 – Toldot, “Enough!”

Rabbi’s Teachings 2009
July 3, 2009 – Chukkat-Balak – “Don’t Lose Yourself When You “Lose It”
June 26, 2009 – Korach – “Exposing Ourselves”
June 19, 2009 – Sh’lach L’cha – “Protecting Ourselves”
June 12, 2009 – B’ha’a’lotcha – “Your Heart and Your Mouth”
June 5-6, 2009 – Naso – “Being Identical Is Special”
May 22-29, 2009 – Bamidbar/Shavuot – “Live Beyond Your Means”
May 15-16, 2009 – B’har-B’chukotai – “The Rear View”
May 8-9, 2009 – Emor – “Showing up is 90% of Success
May 1-2, 2009 – Acharei Mot-K’doshim, “Monitoring Your Heart’s Intake”
April 24-25, 2009 – Tazria M’tzora, “What’s inside a problem”
Nisan 5769 | April 2009 – “Passover: External and internal observance”
March 27, 2009 – Vayikra, “Hold that spice!”
March 20, 2009 – H’Chodesh, “I am beautiful!”
March 13, 2009 – Ki Tissa, “Avoiding Panic”
March 7, 2009 – Zachor, “Keeping Judaism Fresh”
February 27, 2009 – Terumah, “How Do We Slow Down”
February 20, 2009 – Mishpatim, “The Great Vision of Jewish Law”
February 13, 2009 – Yitro, “Becoming More Jewish”
February 6, 2009 – B’shalach, “We Are How We Eat”
January 30, 2009 – Bo, “Why Choseness is OK”
January 23, 2009 – Va’era, “Why believe in one G-d?”
January 16, 2009 – Sh’mot, “Fighting Justly”

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