The Jews of Rhodes and Cos: In Memoriam

This week, memorial programs will be held in Rhodes, marking the anniversary of the deportation of Jews of Rhodes in July 1944. Rabbi Marc D. Angel delivered this sermon on July 26, 2014 at Congregation Ezra Bessaroth in Seattle, Washington, when the community marked the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Jews from the islands of Rhodes and Cos, nearly all of whom were murdered in Auschwitz.

Angel for Shabbat--Hukat/Balak

This week’s Torah portion has the only mention of “the book of the Wars of the Lord” (Sefer Milhamot Hashem). Commentators and scholars speculate about what was contained in this now lost book. Was it a collection of poems in praise of God? Was it a record of the Israelites’ wars? Who had access to this book? Who wrote it?

Rabbi Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad on the Religious Importance of General and Jewish Studies

Rabbi Yosef Hayyim unequivocally endorses a curriculum for Jewish education in which from the earliest age onward the student devotes hours of study to Torah and to general knowledge in parallel. He rejects the view that the rationale for such study is, to enhance understanding of Torah. Rather, he presents and endorses four valid rationales for study and acquisition of general knowledge: