In memory of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, whose yarzheit falls this Shabbat. How does our story of slavery and oppression, and of God hearing our cry, become the basis through which we understand our responsibility for justice today? Shifra and Puah - midwives - take a stand, Moses more reluctantly leads. Our portion tells us we need to not just save individuals, but make systemic change.
What connections do we draw between the story of Joseph and Chanukkah with regards to how we see identity? Perhaps the Joseph story can shed light on how we understand ourselves in relation to wider cultures.
What are we to make of Rachel stealing her father's household idols when she leaves with Jacob? Drawing on ideas from Dr Wendy Zierler (http://huc.edu/directory/wendy-zierler and https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/rachel-and-leahs-shared-anger/) perhaps we find her to be a model for us all.
Jacob and Esau - The first twin study, found in the Torah. But what if the Bible and the rabbinic commentaries are telling us with some nuance and subtlety not to characterise the traits of Jew/Enemy of the Jews in a predetermined way in people? Maybe we're all more like each other than we'd care to admit?
What kind of faith follows from the thousands of years of interpretation of the binding of Isaac? How do we confront the commanding voice of God to Abraham to sacrifice his son in our time and what does this mean for humanity?
In memory of our teacher, Rabbi Sheila Shulman z'l, and of course Rabbi Dr Leo Baeck. Lech Lecha a parasha of transformation is also a Torah reading that reminds us of our teachers whose yarzheits (anniversary of their death) fall around this time of year. Teaching in Judaism is something that Talmud says makes our students, makes the words of Torah and recreates the teacher.
In adverse times in the world's history, how do we confront the challenge of remaining hopeful and perhaps even joyful. The Maor VaShemesh sees Noach as a role model for all time. Dedicated to the memory of my teacher, Rabbi Dr Pesach Schindler z'tl former Rosh HaYeshiva of the Conservative Yeshiva.
What does the #creation story of the book of #Genesis, the first #Torah portion (parasha), mean to us? Should we understand it literally or is the message deeper and much more important - forcing us to confront the very meaning of our existence?