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A Link in the Chain of Jewish Memory

Past President of Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Aaron Panken, zichrono livracha, wrote this Yizkor meditation: When we ask God to remember the souls of our departed at Yizkor, we request more than a mere mental act. We pray implicitly that by focusing on our loved ones’ souls, God will take action on their behalf and save them from whatever pain they may be suffering, wherever they may be. At the same time, the implication is that this act of remembrance also constitutes a guarantee of Jewish continuity -- well beyond just those we remember, and far beyond us as well. In remembering and in asking for God’s remembrance we request divine help in continuing our people’s trajectory beyond ourselve

Moral Transformation > Self Deprivation

Five times, the Torah repeats that on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement, we should afflict our souls. Our sages interpret this verse of Torah to mean that we should fast from food and water, and abstain from bathing and intercourse. This piece of Mishnah has guided our people for generations, placing the fasting ritual at the center of our Yom Kippur practice as means to achieve complete atonement of our sins. However, like many Jewish traditions, the ritual of fasting is just a tool intended to aid our introspection, and increase our awareness of the suffering surrounding us. While it may appear from these ancient rules that the most important part of Yom Kippur is se

Leaving a Mark

Often on Shabbat afternoon, Rachel and Sam would go for walks along the beach and catch up on their previous week. The conversations were usually light, about work and family and the monotony of life. But one week, Sam became angry with Rachel and began to scream at her. Rachel had never seen him act this way, and she did not know what to say. She picked up a stick and wrote in the sand “you hurt my feelings.” Then Rachel stood up and continued walking. Sam, feeling awful for allowing his frustration to get the better of him, caught up with Rachel and tried to apologize. They continued walking, and eventually began talking again. As the sun rose the day grew hotter, so Sam and Rachel went fo