Zina Schiff, a concert violinist, has performed and recorded on five continents. Her first recording was the solo violin score for MGM's The Fixer, and a major focus of her 16 CDs is classical Jewish music. This article appears in issue 28 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. It was reprinted in issue 35 of Conversations.
All of us who care deeply for the State of Israel must do our best to support the embattled Jewish State. Regardless of our personal political views, we must not stand aside silently while Israel and its citizens are under attack.
Once Nachshon took the lead, the Israelites themselves realized that it was time for them to move forward. Moses and the people learned that at a time of national crisis, courageous action is required. The price of freedom is: increased responsibility.
The Bible has a singular vision for Jews and humanity. Beginning with the unprecedented declaration in the first chapter of Genesis that all people are created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:26–27), the Torah and prophets present a program for Israel and humanity that can bring about a redeemed, harmonious, religious-ethical world.
Rabbi Hayyim Angel offers words of tribute in memory of Stephen Neuwirth.
It is with great sadness that we record the untimely passing of Stephen Neuwirth, board member and major supporter of our Institute since its inception in 2007. Stephen was a well-respected attorney, a community leader, philanthropist…a really fine human being.
When teachers explain Midrashim as literal and as binding traditions, they misinterpret the biblical text, the intent of the rabbis’ statements, and the breathtaking diversity of rabbinic interpretations.
Social justice lies at the very heart of the Torah. God holds all nations accountable for morality, including Israel. Israel’s being God’s Chosen People places additional responsibility onto Israel to serve as the model moral nation for the world. God rejects religious rituals when they are unaccompanied by a righteous, moral lifestyle.
The Talmud teaches that the reward of a mitzvah is another mitzvah while the consequence of a sin is another sin. We set patterns for ourselves. We initially have free will to choose, and our first choice leads us to our next choice. If we set a positive pattern, we continuously improve ourselves. If we set a negative pattern, we “harden” our own hearts so that it becomes difficult to change for the better.
Kotser ruach in our times may be referring to a diminished spiritual sense. Vibrant religious life needs a vibrant religious spirit. It needs us to be open to the challenges of religion at its best. It needs us to hear the message, to overcome obstacles, and to have leaders who can articulate a sophisticated spiritual framework for our lives.