The burden and worry that so many of us seem to bear as we come closer to death struck more intensely this past January when I offered a eulogy at the funeral of my friend Debbie Friedman. Debbie contributed so significantly to Jewish worship renewal, and her prayers and songs are sung in every quarter of the world. Although no one had more reason to “rejoice in their portion,” insecurity and doubt about her contributions to life and their meaning plagued Debbie’s soul.
A “Letter” Exchange between Abby Caplin and Rachel Brodie, Healing Is Always Possible:
While confronting serious illness, unless a hospital chaplain appears (and not necessarily a Jewish one), the words and wisdom of Judaism are rarely brought into treatment and waiting rooms. “Healing services” are the most prominent form of Jewish ritual around illness, but there are other forms that address a variety of needs, moods, and comfort zones. Ancient ritual objects used for healing include amulets, stones, and a red string. Each of these items allows for symbolic transference by concretizing an abstract value such as love, power, or support.
Physicians have an obligation to ensure that parents understand the illness and prognosis of their child, to the best of their ability and medical knowledge. If a parent hopes for and expects a full recovery when one is essentially impossible, then the physician has failed in an essential duty.
Julie Pelc Adler
Prayers for healing can be transformative, even if only at the level of humanistic effectiveness—a prayer that helps people bond and feel comforted in the face of suffering. But I don’t think prayers are magic; I do not believe that prayers alone can heal, or necessarily compel God to heal us. For that matter, I don’t even believe that healing is necessarily a complete return to life as it was before the accident, illness, or disability. Healing requires coming to terms with life as it is now: life with struggle (and sometimes chronic pain or discomfort), and life with the memory of what came before. Healing requires work, strength, and courage.
Roundtable on Celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut
Most holiday celebrations offer opportunities to reflect on the themes of the day, the passing of time — momentous events and regrets. Observing Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Israel Independence Day, provides the same opportunities. Sh’ma invited Rabbi Jarah Greenfield, editor and publisher Gary Rosenblatt, Professor Shaul Kelner, and communal activist Ariel Beery to speak about how they personally observe the day and how we might re-envision the holiday for contemporary times.
The founding myth of the Herut movement, which in 1973 evolved into the Likud and with a plurality of Knesset seats in 1977 facilitated Menachem Begin’s ascendancy to the position of Prime Minister of Israel, was that in its pre-state form — as the Irgun underground — it had expelled the British from Mandate Palestine.
Historians by and large agree that the Irgun and Lehi’s methods played a decisive role in Britain’s withdrawal from Palestine. Few, however, argue, as Yisrael Medad does, that without armed attacks against the British, the state of Israel would have never come into being.
Exploring the ‘Catastrophe’: A Letter Exchange between Paul Scham and Gregory Khalil on Nakba: Literally, “Nakba” means “catastrophe.” Nakba typically refers to the historical events surrounding Israel’s independence. Most historians now agree that as much as three-quarters of the indigenous Muslim and Christian Palestinian population in what became Israel lost their homes, more than 400 villages were destroyed, and few Palestinians were ever allowed to return.
Danya Ruttenberg: Worrying too much about language and metaphor can keep us from being open to surprises in our experience of the divine that belie our safe categories…. We have to learn to become less attached to our metaphors, so we can meet the God who dwells outside of them.