This week’s parashah, Bo, tells the story of the ten plagues that convinced Pharaoh to “let my people go.” It’s an important story, but it often makes people wonder whether God really sent these ten plagues to Egypt. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, describe that it may not matter whether or not these ten plagues really happened, because there is truth to the story regardless.
Moses isn’t charismatic. He doesn’t see himself as a great leader—he’s modest, humble, and he doesn’t speak clearly. But God insists that he lead despite this, because God sees an even more important quality in him: his ability to care for others. When Moses sees mistreatment, he has to intervene, no matter what the consequence might be. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss how Moses embodies the bedrock of our Jewish tradition in Parashat Va-eira, the Torah portion read on January 28, 2017.
This week we start a new book of the Torah, Sh’mot, or Exodus. The book opens with, “These are the names of the children of Israel,” but it’s misleading. We don’t actually go on to read the names of the children of Israel; we go on to only read the names of the boys. Sh’mot is a stunning moment where we are reminded that sexism dates back to biblical times. In this week’s On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, takes the opportunity to remind us of the amazing women of Exodus, without whom there wouldn’t even be a Jewish people today.
Va-y’chi, the title of the last parashah of the book of Genesis, translates to “and he lived.” It’s an odd title for a parashah that details the death of Jacob and Joseph. But the thing about Jacob, Joseph, and many righteous people, is that their values and legacies continue to live on after they die. In this week’s On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, tells us about those legacies, and more.
Do you ever wonder why Judaism is called Judaism? This week’s parashah, Vayigash, has an answer. This is the moment when Joseph and his brothers, including Judah, dramatically reconnect, and Judah demonstrates a deep caring for his people. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, make the case for why we can all look to Judah for an important lesson in how we can come together, despite differences, in times of need.