In Chapter 11 of Parashat B’haalot’cha, the Israelites are wandering through the desert, and they’re kvetching. They’re not happy about the cuisine, the amount of water, and everything they need to schlep. Even though most of us today aren’t tasked with wandering through the desert, we still find things to kvetch about. But what if, when we want to kvetch, we instead focus on building up our community? Rabbi Jacobs explores this question in this week’s episode of On the Other Hand.
This week, Rabbi Jacobs is joined by Rabbi Tom Gutherz and Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, VA. They discuss Parashat Naso, their experience at Shabbat services during the white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, the current state of Charlottesville, and what it means to fight for social justice with an interfaith community.
Parashat B’midbar is the first parashah in the Book of Numbers, and it’s called the Book of Numbers because it opens with a census. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs uses the occasion to think about contemporary numbers, including a few particular surveys that the Reform Movement has been part of, that give a new and exciting window into Jewish life.
Parashat B’har features an important teaching on environmental justice: that we are to be respectful of our land. Many Reform Jews express their respect for the environment with action, and many Reform congregations have gone zero-waste or are GreenFaith certified. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses why it’s so important that we respect the environment, and shares some easy ways to do so.