During the ten days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we’re tasked with the difficult job of repentance. It can be the hardest work of our lives to find forgiveness for those who have hurt us and to ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt, but it can also be the most important.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, shares his thoughts on repentance, forgiveness, and letting things go, in this episode of On the Other Hand.
We read the Akeidah, or the Binding of Isaac, on Rosh Hashanah, where God commands Abraham to take his son, Isaac, up to Mount Morriah and sacrifice him. Thankfully God doesn’t actually require Abraham to follow through, but still, it’s a difficult request. Are we, like Abraham, obligated to always be obedient, or should we question authority? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, shares his thoughts in this episode of On the Other Hand.
For many, the double portion Nitzavim-Vayeilech is comforting. Judaism is a religion full of commandments, but Nitzavim-Vayeilech assures us that everything we need to be Jewish is in our very hearts. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs describe where spirituality lies, and how we can collectively uncover more holiness.
Ki Tavo translates to “when you get there.” the phrasing is “when,” and not “if,” because the Torah reminds us that there was never a doubt that the Israelites would reach The Land of Milk and Honey. Still, Parashat Ki Tavo serves as an important reminder of who the Israelites were: wanderers. In this episode of On the Other Hand, listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs describe why this point, and this parashah as a whole, are so important.
In Parashat Ki Teitzei, we read the phrase, “you shall not abhor an Egyptian, for you are a stranger in his land.” This statement is read only a few months after Leviticus, when the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians, making it a little easier said than done. How can we manage not to hate those who do us serious wrong? Rabbi Jacobs shares his advice in this episode of On the Other Hand.
Parashat Shof’tim is all about judges: who should judge, how they should judge, and why a good judge is so important. So, who are the great judges of our time, and why are they so great? In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, gives his take.
Parashat R’eih includes that infamous line: “you shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” Jewish tradition categorizes the mitzvah of not mixing milk with meat as one without specific reasoning, but many scholars think the reason is clear: we should eat with compassion. Rabbi Jacobs explores the importance of eating with compassion in this episode of On the Other Hand.
A chapter in Parashat Eikev reads, “when you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless.” What does it mean to be satisfied, and what kind of power does a good meal have? Rabbi Jacobs explores this with Aliza Kline, Executive Director of OneTable, an organization that helps Millennials host and attend unique Shabbat dinners so they can make the most of Friday night.
Everybody has an opinion on whether politics should be brought to the pulpit, but according to Rabbi Jacobs, this debate was settled centuries ago. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses haftarot – what they are, why we read them, and what they have to say about politics.
Kol Yisrael translates to “all of Israel.” In Parashat D’varim, when Moses speaks to kol Yisrael, he’s not speaking to a divided Jewish people: he’s speaking to them as one. It’s fitting that this year, we read Parashat D’varim in the lead up to the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling on an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs describes what this agreement, the fallout, and the upcoming decision means for Reform Judaism.
The double portion of Parashat Matot-Mas’ei details the 42 stops that the Jewish people made on their journey from Egypt to the promised land. In light of this parashah, in this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs details the journey of the Reform Judaism, and the stops along the way that contributed to who we are today.
In Parashat Pinchas, Zelophehad’s five daughters petition God. It’s the first picture that the Torah provides of radical, essential challenging of the rules, and better yet, the challenging is done by women. What kind of significance does this hold? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacob’s take on it in this episode of On the Other Hand.
This week, Rabbi Jacobs welcomes singer/songwriter Neshama Carlebach. They discuss Parashat Balak¸ which songs speak to their souls, and what it’s like to travel the world as a Jewish singer. Plus, she shares a melody about gratitude and moving forward from pain.
Parashat Chukat contains the commandment of the red heifer, and it’s one that many people find puzzling. What should we think of the commandments that don’t have an explanation? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism discuss what things may be worth letting go, and how we can keep Jewish life vibrant in the 21st century.
In this infamous parashah, Korach, a relative of Moses, argues with Moses, wondering why he can’t be the leader of the Israelites instead. Disagreement can be sacred in the Jewish tradition, but when does that disagreement become self-serving? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses disagreement, divisiveness, and compromise, in this episode of On the Other Hand.
What does it mean to be on the fringes of Judaism? Does Judaism allow for creativity, allowing those on the fringe who want, to be brought toward the center? Is Judaism open to different forms of expression? In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs describes his take, and how it fits in to Parashat Sh’lach L’cha.
In this episode of On The Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs is joined by April Baskin, URJ Vice President of Audacious Hospitality, to discuss the provocative text in Parashat B’haalot’cha when Miriam and Aaron talk behind Moses’s back about Moses marrying Tziporah, a Kushite woman. Listen to Rabbi Jacobs and April Baskin discuss this text, whether Judaism is colorblind, and where the North American Jewish community can do better by Jews of Color.
Parashat Naso features a very famous blessing – but what does it mean for one person to bless another? Is it a power reserved for the ancient priests, or is it something that we are all capable of? What kinds of actions constitute a blessing? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, describe what he sees as a blessing in this episode of On the Other Hand.
Do you know which countries have the largest population of Jewish people? What about how many Jews serve in the United States Congress? As we begin the Book of Numbers with Parashat B’midbar, Rabbi Jacobs talks us through the numbers of the Jewish people today, as Parashat B’midbar does with the Israelites wandering the desert after the Exodus. Listen to this episode of On the Other Hand to learn what Rabbi Jacobs thinks about these numbers, and whether they matter.
For anyone who doubts that Judaism includes social and environmental justice, this week’s commentary on the double portion of B’har-B’chukotai sings forth that we have a fundamental responsibility to care for God’s Earth, and to be attentive to the neediest among us. How does this section of the Torah ask that we do that? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, tells us how in this episode of On the Other Hand.
Parashat Emor lays out the sacred calendar of the Jewish people as we know it in the Torah, and there’s no one better to discuss this parashah with Rabbi Jacobs than Abigail Pogrebin, author of the book “My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew.” Pogrebin tells us about her year of studying, preparing for, and observing all 18 holidays on the Hebrew calendar, and what she learned about gratitude, obligation, and responsibility.
It’s another two-parashah week, and this time we’re reading about love. The phrase “love the stranger” appears in the Torah 36 times. Why is this phrase written so often, and who is the stranger? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, gives his take in this episode of On the Other Hand.
Parashiyot Tazria and M’tzora are perhaps the most nerve inducing parashiyot in many Jewish circles, and it makes sense—most people aren’t typically eager to discuss leprosy. But if we know that illness can often be seen as a metaphor in Jewish tradition as punishment for sin, what is this case of leprosy actually about? Listen to Rabbi Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, explain why he thinks Parashiyot Tazria and M’tzora should transcend the dread.
In this special Passover episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses empathy. The story of Passover asks that we put ourselves in the shoes of those who escaped slavery and travelled to freedom, and that we think about what it’s like to have nothing. But this year, it isn’t enough to discuss this type of tragedy as a thing of the past. Find out why Rabbi Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, thinks that this seder should be different from other sedarim in this week’s episode of On the Other Hand.