Words of the Week

“There is a way that a member of a small audience will smile at you, if you’re lucky, that denotes not just understanding and appreciation but a conviction that they get you in a special way, as though your words are just for them. Two or three such people in your audience and you are an unstoppable force. Tonight, the whole room smiles at me that secret smile of special one-to-one knowingness and I smile it back. What this really means is that they recognize in me what I recognize in them—the family likeness, not just of feature, but of manner of discourse, the worrying one’s way to truth, the holding back of final assent, the sense that we’re all in the Great Yeshiva of the Mind together.”

Source: Howard Jacobson, “Russia, My Homeland” (Tablet magazine)

Words of the Week

“In order to help make a positive impact on this world, and to foster compassion and gain a better understanding of antisemitism, we ask that our literary organizations include Jewish representation in our diversity conversations and programs. The goal is to show respectful, thoughtful, and non-stereotypical portrayals of Jewish people. We add our names to help unite our community to educate, support, and share resources that promote such understanding and counteract antisemitism.”

Source: “Book Community Statement Of Solidarity Against Antisemitism”

Words of the Week

“The facts show that American Jews are mostly safe in this country, New York City included. But recent violent events also show that we cannot take this safety for granted. We can be grateful that anti-Semitism in America today is primarily nonviolent — and all Americans should work hard to make sure that doesn’t change.”

Source: Laura E. Adkins, “Anti-Semitism in the U.S. Isn’t Usually Violent. What If That’s Changing?” (Washington Post)

Words of the Week

Facebook post from Deborah Lipstadt, including photograph of her on stage at the URJ Biennial in Chicago and the following text: I am so deeply honored and touched by the response to my message. “I can’t answer everyone but clearly Jews are gratified to be reminded that we are so much more than victims. We are a people with an ancient, yet modern, tradition that has given so much to the world. Spread the word. That’s how we defeat the haters.”

(Thanks to Joanne Intrator for leading me to this.)

Words of the Week

When we ask God to remember the souls of our departed at Yizkor, we request more than a mere mental act. We pray implicitly that by focusing on our loved ones’ souls, God will take action on their behalf and save them from whatever pain they may be suffering, wherever they may be. At the same time, the implication is that this act of remembrance also constitutes a guarantee of Jewish community—well beyond just those we remember, and far beyond us as well. In remembering and in asking for God’s remembrance, we request divine help in continuing our people’s trajectory beyond ourselves, to achieve the ultimate aims of our people’s history. Yizkor is, in the end, not a prayer for the dead, but a promise by the living.

Source: Rabbi Aaron Panken (z”l).

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