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(Posted on 3 Quarks Daily on Monday December 16, 2013)

Prequel to the world as they knew it 

Reading the Hebrew Bible is a bit like entering a time machine to travel back a few millennia. Imagine people wearing sandals and clothes somewhat unlike yours, but strip away the styles and the trends, and you see that they are concerned in their own ways with the same issues that concern people in your day and in your town: place, property, power, privilege, position, passion, poverty and all the games people still play today.

Read the full article here


Vayechi (5774) – Surviving Failure – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes:

Joseph had in double measure one of the necessary gifts of a leader: the ability to keep going despite opposition, envy, false accusation and repeated setbacks.


Setbacks too are part of the life-story of the most successful. J. K. Rowling’s initial Harry Potter novel was rejected by the first twelve publishers she sent it to. Another writer of a book about children suffered twenty-one rejections. The book was called “Lord of the Flies,” and its author, William Golding, was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

In his famous commencement address at Stanford University the late Steve Jobs told the story of the three blows of fate that shaped his life: dropping out of university, being fired from Apple, the company he founded, and being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Rather than being defeated by them, he turned them all to creative use.

For twenty-two years I lived close to Abbey Road, North London, where a famous pop group recorded all their hits. At their first audition, they performed for a record company who told them that guitar bands were “on their way out.” The verdict on their performance (in January 1962) was: “The Beatles have no future in show business.”

All this explains Winston Churchill’s great remark that “success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Read the full post here.

A Poem of Recent Unconnected and Tragic Occurrences, by Joshua Yarden

On Sharp Knives, Lightning Bolts, Falling Trees & Fallen Heroes

Singularly odd and tragic events

three unconnected incidents

a counselor from Tawonga killed
by a falling tree that crushed the dining room
three kids hit by lightening at Goldman Union
one reported in critical condition
a Jewish student working in Egypt
stabbed to death at a political demonstration
It seems to be an unusually tragic summer
promising young lives struck down
due to no fault of their own
As we hope (and pray?)
for a full recovery of the child in critical condition
one cannot but be struck
by the randomness of our lives
dumb luck
Developments in Egypt
the military moving in
to bring down an elected president
seem a bit less random than occurrences in nature
but who would have predicted what happened yesterday?
and who knows what will happen tomorrow?
It seems to be a pretty significant development
in the continuing evolution of the ‘Arab Spring’
but we don’t know
if military order will bring civilian order
and the mess in Syria appears
to have no peaceful end in sight
Where people are present we can demand an answer…
Who is in charge?
Who created this mess?
Between Syria and Egypt
Israel seems to remain stable in its own way
with on-going protests at the Western Wall
an unrelated murder on the Temple Mount
ever-present-never-significant developments
in the attempts to restart the ever-stalled negotiations
between the Israeli and Palestinian delegations
to non-peace non-talks that were to have begun
and been concluded in five years
but that countdown was set in motion
when we celebrated the Camp David Accords
over 30 years ago
when hope was in the air
the fresh prospect of peace has grown
stale with disappointment
and time marches on
marked by an occasional war in Lebanon, an intifada
and the falling of heroes
We love our heroes
and we cry when they fall
because we will miss them terribly
and because–in their falling–they symbolize
the loss of hope
which is sometimes more than the soul can bear
we lament destruction
console one another
and we head out on the hunt for new heroes
symbols of the hopes and the dreams
of our eternally hopeful souls
We so want to hope
that the world can be a better place
that we parade in the streets for sports teams
call our athletes ‘heroes’
and we call our politicians ‘rock stars’
and we call our rock stars ‘kings’
when our actual kings have become mere actors
and we merely act like there is a king of the universe
because we wish we were actually subjects
of a most powerful someone
who really could put things in heavenly order
We cry when they fall
because there is order in the universe
The cruel truth is that the order of the universe
does not prioritize our hopes and our dreams…
which is a crushing realization
Ain’t that the truth?
Trees fall from their sturdy trunks
and lightening falls from the sky
and people fall at demonstrations
that bring on the fall of governments
and counselors call everyone to fall into into order

at camp where young people are ever-falling in love

with each other and with themselves
and with the ideas that connect them
and they fall from each other’s graces
when at times things seem to be falling apart
yet things somehow fall into place
and the long summer will soon come to an abrupt end
and the tears will well up and fall again
from the cheeks of the children
and in the fall there will be many new adventures
because there is so much to discover
to explore and to create
and the world is a much better place
when we do

חזק ואמץ

Keeping Up With The Future, by Gabirela Geselowitz, June 11, 2013, The Jewish Week

Gabriela Geselowitz (intern at The Jewish Week) asks:

“If Hillel could summarize Judaism’s teachings while standing on one foot, can modern-day sages do so while standing on one tweet?”

Read what she has to share about The Jewish Futures Conference on Whose Torah Is It Anyway?

Direct Impact of Jewish Futures Conference – Whose Torah Is It Anyway?

Just posted in the DigitalJLearning blog: This is not Your Parents’ Megilah by Rivke Pianko

In addition to sharing ideas and impact from The Jewish Futures Conference: Whose Torah Is It Anyway?, Rivka writes:

“This project was one way that I encouraged my students to dig deeper into the text. I have discussed the success of this particular project with my school administrators and colleagues and we are excited about the prospect of incorporating modern techniques in teacher traditional topics.  What methods are you using in your classes?”

Bar Mitzvahs on the Beach, by Rebecca Meiser on

“Destination bar and bat mitzvahs take Jewish ceremonies to exotic locations—far from the synagogue back home”

By Rebecca Meiser, May 17, 2013, Tablet Magazine

Read about the growing trend in bnei mitzvah in exotic locations. What are your thoughts on this? Value? Concerns?

Drawing New Interest to the Talmud on eJewishPhilanthropy

eJewishPhilanthropy today highlights a new approach to Daf Yomi, the practice of study a “daf” (folio page) of Talmud each day….through drawing! Read and See their post!

The article by Edmon J. Rodman of highlights the work of Jacqueline Nicholls.