Archive for 'American Jewish Issues'

George Washington and the Miracle of Chanukah

Hi, two  friends sent me the following story[1]…I have scoured the Google Library to see whether it is apocryphal or historically based; clearly it is the former. Nevertheless, it is an interesting read that may also be found  in the Sefer Pardes Chanukah. This is a folk story about George Washington and the Jewish soldier who fought alongside the famous general. The narrative is attributed to a personal journal of a Jewish soldier who fought alongside General George Washington at ...

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Why do Lubavitchers spit whenever saying the Alenu Prayer?

Why do Lubavitchers spit whenever saying the Alenu Prayer?

This is a great question, but to put it in perspective, we must first analyze the  Alenu Prayer and its historical development. Without a doubt, the Alenu is one of the most moving prayers of the Jewish liturgy; it calls upon all the members of humankind to accept the One and only King of Kings, as Lord and Master of all the earth. Its universal message envisions a time when all the ...

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Augustine and the “Mark of Cain”

What is the significance of the “mark of Cain” (Gen. 4:15)?

The text does not identify exactly what the sign was. Historically, this passage has often served as a scriptural support for Christian persecution of the Jews. For Cain, this was a mark of God’s special loving care and protection. For Jerome’s contemporary, Augustine, this idea proved to be a fertile concept for his comparison of Cain to the Jews. Curiously, Augustine, said nothing about this mark serving as a protective ...

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Understanding the Purpose of the Levirate Marriage and Its Symbolism

One of the ancient institutions that have persisted since archaic times is the levirate marriage. Here is a brief synopsis of the institution and its underlying rational.

Life of a widow in the ancient world was precarious at best. Having no inheritance rights, she was easily exploited and was frequently reduced to abject poverty and/or prostitution. Many ancient civilizations from India, Africa, to the Ancient Near East utilized the levirate marriage (from the Latin  levir, a “brother-in-law”) as a means of ...

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Meditations: Rediscovering the Meaning of Rosh Hashanah

Meditations: Rediscovering the Meaning of Rosh Hashanah

As I prepare my thoughts for Rosh Hashanah. I become aware of time. Yes, the New Year has arrived. We are blessed to have received it. It ’s true that for many of us the arrival of any New Year on some level makes us a bit anxious. Why is that?!!Time marches on …. We are all a bit older, but are we necessarily wiser? Rosh Hashanah stresses that while time is fleeting, we ...

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