Archive for : My Jewish Learning

How Can Jews Talk About Race?

This post originally appeared in My Jewish Learning on January 10, 2017

How can Jews talk about race? How can Jews not talk about race? Race is part of all of our lives no matter the color of our skin or Jewish background.

Throughout the country and the Jewish community, discussions about race, racism and how to navigate the legacies of slavery and civil rights as well as the complex contemporary landscape are as important and challenging as ever. At Be’chol Lashon, these issues are on our mind all year round, as they are for many Jews.  But we recognize that there is heightened attention and concern as we mark the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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How Can Jews Talk About Race?

This post originally appeared on My Jewish Learning on January 10, 2017

By Ruth Abusch Magder

How can Jews talk about race? How can Jews not talk about race? Race is part of all of our lives no matter the color of our skin or Jewish background.

Throughout the country and the Jewish community, discussions about race, racism and how to navigate the legacies of slavery and civil rights as well as the complex contemporary landscape are as important and challenging as ever. At Be’chol Lashon, these issues are on our mind all year round, as they are for many Jews.  But we recognize that there is heightened attention and concern as we mark the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Why is This Night Different From All Other Nights?

This post originally appeared on My Jewish Learning in April of 2016.

By Joanna Ware

For many of us, as LGBTQ Jews, Passover is a holiday that can have unique resonance. It is a holiday that speaks to our histories of oppression and liberation, and of a commitment to work for justice in our own times. It is a holiday with themes of coming out, of taking risks to be fully ourselves, of feeling small and unworthy of the task in front of us, but stepping up anyway. It is a holiday ripe for queer exegesis!

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From Queen Esther to Emma Watson

It’s no coincidence that the Jewish holiday of Purim typically falls in March, AKA Women’s History Month. Okay, maybe it’s a coincidence, but it’s a great one. The Purim story, after all, is built around two mighty women: one who stands up for her rights (Queen Vashti) and another who stands up for the rights and safety of her people (Queen Esther).

As we remember and celebrate Jewish tradition’s early female heroines, it is also important to remember that women’s rights issues – everything from gender pay inequality, to women’s healthcare and education access – are still critically important both in America and around the world. That’s why, this Purim, we want to shed light on this ongoing work.

Who better to do that than Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, Emma Watson, herself? In addition to giving a killer speech about gender equality at the UN a couple years back, Watson is a leader of HeforShe, a UN Women campaign focused on bringing all voices around the world together in support of women’s rights.

In the video below, Watson teams up with Broadway star Lin Manuela Miranda (of Hamilton) for an amazing beat box/freestyle flow session about gender equality. It’s worth a watch – we may have watched it twice – and a visit to the UN’s HeforShe campaign page.

And for more on Purim’s heroines, check out this post on My Jewish Learning called Vashti & Esther: A Feminist Perspective.

Spotlight On: Tu B’Shvat’s Connections to the Environment and Service

Tomorrow night marks the start of Tu B’Shvat (the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shvat), which is the rabbinically ordained birthday of trees. The original purpose of giving trees a birth date was to calculate their age in order to know when to tithe them. In Leviticus 19: 23-25, it is written:

When you come to the land and you plant any food tree, you shall surely block its fruit [from use]; it shall be blocked from you [from use] for three years, not to be eaten. And in the fourth year, all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the Lord. And in the fifth year, you may eat its fruit; [do this, in order] to increase its produce for you.

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