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Showing posts from March, 2015

Turn, Turn, Turn

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Parashat Vayikra/HaChodesh  Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz 
Turn, Turn, Turn 
How many of you paid attention to yesterday’s solar eclipse? I was getting excited about the whole thing but my physicist husband’s response was surprisingly lackluster: ‘big deal, it’s the moon moving in front of the sun, and that’s that’. Now, don’t get me wrong: my very scientific husband has an insatiable curiosity and a deep respect for the natural world. 
As I pondered his response and realized how very modern it is—not ‘modern’ as in ‘new’, but modern as in embracing a post-Enlightenment, rationalist, empiricist worldview. He is right, of course: all a solar eclipse is the moon blocking the sun.  I trained as a scientist too—a social scientist. And so I’m interested in social phenomena: how have people throughout the ages responded to solar eclipses? With great fear and dread. See, it is only human nature to want to see patterns and omens in Nature and the line between ascribing superstition and imbuing mean…

In the Name of the One True God

Parashat Ki Tissa 
Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz 

In the Name of the One True God 

I don’t know how many of you have seen the recent footage of ISIS – Islamic State – destroying antiquities in the Iraqi cities Mosul and Nimrud. Of course, we’ve been confronted with a lot of shocking footage of ISIS indiscriminately murdering civilians, committing genocide and other atrocities.
Of course, as Progressive Jews we want to focus on building bridges between religions. We stand in solidarity with Muslim citizens in creating tolerant and open faith communities wherever we live. And so, we have to confront evil when we face it.

One of the most powerfully redemptive messages of both Purim and Pesach is that we can resist evil. It also seems a bizarre coincidence that we see ISIS smashing ancient treasures while we just read about the beauty of Achashverosh’ royal palace in the Megillah. Now those beautiful Assyrian and Babylonian artefacts, of deities and lamassu’s, (mythical winged guardians with li…