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Truth Even Unto Its Innermost Parts

06/02/2021 09:56:04 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

A few years ago I was engaged in a heated conversation with an old college friend, Bob. I was stridently expressing my position, until Bob completely disarmed me.

“So what you’re saying,” he said, “is that…”

I do not recall the topic of our conservation, but I do recall Bob’s willingness to patiently repeat my own thoughts back to me. Bob was not trying to trip me up in my own words. He was...Read more...

May Justice and Peace Prevail

05/21/2021 05:09:25 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Eighteen of us – Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant -- stood in a wide circle yesterday for the Niles Township Clergy Forum’s silent vigil for, as our battered sign reads, “Peace. Love. Kindness.”  It was a powerful experience.

Meanwhile, local Jewish leaders are contemplating how to demonstrate solidarity with Israel during this fraught time.

“Fraught” is too weak a word. What is...

Israel's Elections — The Negative Is Positive

04/29/2021 12:37:47 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Israel held its fourth election in two years this week and again the results are inconclusive! This may lead to a fifth election later this year. There is something fundamentally cockeyed and broken about an electoral system that repeatedly fails to yield decisive results.

On the other hand, let us bear in mind that Israel is, in fact, a democracy. It holds regular elections. Its Palestinian citizens participate...Read more...

I.B. Singer's New Duds -- and Dashed Hopes -- on Passover

03/31/2021 06:16:53 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Isaac Bashevis Singer’s childhood memoir, A Day of Pleasure, is a pleasure to read! The title implies Shabbat, but the passage below takes place as Passover nears. This chapter begins with an unexpected gift: A local tailor, as a favor to Singer’s father, a poor rabbi, fits the adolescent Signer for a suit the family could not otherwise afford.

"Everything went...

Democracy Nation and Israel's Faltering Elections

03/24/2021 06:04:45 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Israel held its fourth election in two years this week and again the results are inconclusive! This may lead to a fifth election later this year. There is something fundamentally cockeyed and broken about an electoral system that repeatedly fails to yield decisive results.

On the other hand, let us bear in mind that Israel is, in fact, a democracy. It holds regular elections. Its Palestinian citizens participate...Read more...

Women Are Vulnerable

03/24/2021 06:03:06 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Today we woke to the horrible news of a shooting in Georgia by a disturbed young man with a legally-owned gun. The victims were primarily Asian, leading many to assume this was a hate crime – a plausible conclusion given the sharp rise of anti-Asian crime in the United States.

What makes this tragic crime even more infuriating is that most of the victims were targeted because they were women.

Meanwhile,...

Happy Purim!

03/05/2021 06:47:44 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Purim was a blast at EHNTJC! About 100 congregants Zoomed into our evening service, which featured fun music, dancing, and the reading of parts of the Megillah by several of our teens. Thanks to Lee Levin and Elena Batman Levin. The next morning, we chanted the entire Megillah and I chanted directly from the Torah – the first time we did so in just about a year.

The Purim shpiel, “Megillahgan’s Islands”...

Shabbat Zachor and Purim: Baseless Hatred from Within and Without

02/18/2021 12:58:52 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat is Shabbat Zachor, when recall how the Amalekites attacked the weary and infirm Israelites upon their escape from Egypt. Commentators note that the Amalekites had no logical reason to attack us. It is not as if we were disputing land rights. They were not among the tribes in the land of Canaan, which God swore to the Israelites.

So why did the Amalekites attack?

Our midrash notes that...

Yitro and Amalekite

02/04/2021 07:05:28 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

In this week’s Torah portion, Moses’s Midianite father-in-law, Yitro, offers unsolicited but welcome advice. He sees Moses struggling to serve as judge for all the disputes of the Israelites, the equivalent of a midsize America city. How could Moses handle such a burden? Yitro counsels Moses to appoint anshei chayil –...Read more...

Tu bi’Shevat

01/28/2021 03:36:34 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The full moon is reliable. We know when it will arrive, and on clear nights it shines from 240,000 miles away. Last night’s full moon cast shadows on the snow as Lucky and I walked around the block.

The holiday of Tu bi’Shevat also arrives reliably on the full moon of the month of Shevat. (Tu bi’Shevat means the fifteenth of Shevat.) It is the “new year for trees,” related to when the ancient...Read more...

Redemption From Struggle

01/14/2021 06:51:48 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

This is a serious moment for our democracy. We would like to believe that what we viewed on our screens was surreal, but it was real. And we would like to say that the transition to a new administration will be smooth, but we are anxious.

Anxious, but optimistic. The stories of our tradition – indeed, the history of our people – illustrate that seeds of redemption take root during trying times. At the outset...Read more...

Prayer For The Government

01/07/2021 02:19:15 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Pray, urged Rabbi Haninah, “b’shloma shel malchut -- for the welfare of the government –  for were it not for fear of it, human beings would eat each other alive” (Pirkei Avot 3:2).

Our sages interpreted the word government -  “malchut” – broadly. It refers not to one person or party or dynasty, but rather to all...Read more...

Mitzvoth – Here, There and Everywhere

12/24/2020 03:55:12 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Judaism is a relational religion. We were born with a brit, a covenantal commitment to God, and we express that covenant in relational acts both vertical and horizontal.

Vertical relationships refer to acts bein adam l’Makom, between each individual and God. These include mitzvoth (properly translated as commandments) like honoring Shabbat, keeping kosher, Torah study, and wearing ritual objects like tallises...Read more...

Joseph, Chanukah, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

12/15/2020 08:33:56 PM


Rabbi Weill

Whereas December 10 marked the seventy-second anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

and whereas this Shabbat Chanukah is an internationally recognized Human Rights Shabbat;

and whereas on this Shabbat we read Parshat Va’Yeshev, wherein Joseph, son of Rachel and Jacob, is sold into slavery by his brothers;

and whereas Joseph’s brothers’ treatment of him violated the spirit of the...Read more...

Of Pilgrims’ Paper Buckles and a Nation’s Sacred Truths

11/25/2020 04:36:33 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

I remember Thanksgiving from days of yore – at least days of my yore, when my younger brother Kenny and I would dress up like Pilgrims. Taped on my nice shoes were construction paper buckles.

Did Pilgrim men’s shoes have buckles? I have no idea. It may just be a story.

There is a heavy dose of “story” in every nation’s founding narratives. The stories we tell about ourselves may not be...Read more...

Incredibly Divided

11/06/2020 03:33:23 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends:

A prominent Jewish communal leader yesterday described the United States as "an incredibly divided country." Sadly, this refers to our own community as well.

Most of the American Jewish community has voted for Democratic candidates once again, but a significant minority has voted for Republican candidates, from the presidential election to down-ballot candidates.

I have heard of members of the Jewish...

Empty Pockets

10/28/2020 05:46:35 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

A rabbi noticed a young man – a stranger – enter the sanctuary on Shabbat and sit in the back row. It was apparent to the rabbi that the young man was unfamiliar with the service, and that he did not seem to know anyone else in the sanctuary.

At the beginning of the Torah service, during the processional, the rabbi welcomed the young man; they shook hands, smiling.

Later, during Kiddush, the young...

Elul 5781: Dialing In To The Holidays

08/31/2020 09:18:00 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

It was during this time – the weeks preceding the High Holy Days – that Moses ascended Mt Sinai for a second forty-day period. He came back down on Yom Kippur.

What was he doing up there for so long? He was atoning on our behalf for worshiping the Golden Calf.

But wait! Were we not the sinners? Was...

And Justice For All

08/24/2020 10:39:14 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Leadership is on our minds this summer, and that is the primary concern of Parshat Shoftim, this week’s Torah portion. It focuses on the judges, magistrates, and priests of ancient Israel.

The Mishnah says something critically important about the High Priest. “Kohein Gadol dan v’danin oto. The High Priest judges and they judge him....Read more...

The Personal-Communal Dynamic

08/06/2020 03:42:15 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Grammar in Torah often shifts between plural and singular and back again. At the start of Eikev, this week's Torah portion, Moses speaks to the entire community in the plural form. He then shifts, addressing each of us individually. Later, he returns to the plural. 

This is the essence of community. Our personal behavior affects the community. And the tenor of the community affects each one of us. John Donne...Read more...

On Tisha b'Av

07/30/2020 03:07:24 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Today is Tisha b'Av, the darkest day on the Jewish calendar. It is a fast day on which we recall the tragedies of our history, especially the destructions of the first and second Holy Temples, which were destroyed on this day, the ninth of Av, in the sixth century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., respectively.

Tisha b'Av is not only about our suffering. It is about any suffering. It is not merely about our...Read more...

On Independence Day

07/02/2020 09:51:00 PM


Rabbi Weill


And they shall beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not take up

Sword against...

Shelach Lecha: From Abraham to Moses to Us

06/19/2020 02:22:11 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,


The Israelites exhibit an astonishing lack of faith in this week’s Torah portion, Shelach Lecha. Moses has sent scouts to explore the land; ten of the twelve scouts are despondent because of the giants they encountered. They then lead the Israelite nation...Read more...

We Share One Father

06/15/2020 05:35:28 PM


Rabbi Weill

I’d like to begin with a thought experiment. Imagine an American, or someone who lives in America, who is radically different from you.

Focus on the qualities that you think most sharply divide you from that person.

Different religion? From different regions of the country? Or towns or neighborhoods? Different values? And political orientations? Different ethnicity or race? Different accent or manner of speaking? How...Read more...


05/28/2020 03:39:27 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Shavuot, which begins this evening, is one of Judaism's three major festivals (or chaggim), along with Passover and Sukkot. (The High Holidays are not considered "festivals.") Shavuot is, without a doubt, the least observed and most obscure of the three festivals. It's critically  important, though, for on Shavuot, we commemorate mattan Torah, the giving of Torah at Mt Sinai. 

Questions arise. Who,...

Torah's Mandate: Support The Vulnerable

04/30/2020 06:52:22 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The Torah is unambiguous: we must care for the vulnerable in our midst. In Parshat Kedoshim – read this week along with Achrei Mot – we are commanded to leave the corners of fields for the poor; to pay laborers punctually; to protect immigrants. 

These and similar statutes compose the greater whole of Leviticus 19, which is in many ways the ethical heart of Torah. 

We at EHNTJC take this...

Victor Hugo and Tzaraat

04/21/2020 07:20:57 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

I recently read that when Victor Hugo wanted to learn how Les Miserables was selling, he telegraphed his publisher a message consisting only of this: ?.

His publisher knew exactly what Hugo wanted to know, so he replied just as tersely:  !

In other words, Les Miserables was selling well!

Interesting that Hugo, a man of many words refrained from...Read more...

The Comfortable Sameness of This Passover

04/12/2020 02:01:52 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,


We have all expressed with bewilderment how this night will be really, really different from other Passover nights. 

While we note the disruptive difference of this season, I would like to emphasize the comfortable sameness of this time as well. 

The moon is full on...

Causes To Celebrate

03/27/2020 05:15:39 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We do have cause to celebrate! Sure, we are enduring a global pandemic. Yes, the economy has taken a major hit. Of course, we are deprived of the physical closeness to family and friends which is so important to human beings.

We celebrate nonetheless, for we marvel at the human capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. This includes us. We at EHNTJC have adroitly transitioned to virtual classes, services and...Read more...

Coronavirus Message

03/08/2020 01:49:23 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,


Uncertainty prevails in the book of Esther, the biblical story that gives us the holiday of Purim. The Jews of Persia feel events are beyond their control. Ultimately, though, they gain control of the situation, and all ends well.

We too face a measure of uncertainty as we face this coronavirus, also...Read more...

Tue, April 23 2024 15 Nisan 5784