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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  (rabbi@adathisraelsf.org) has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


 

Blog #1 The Nine Days 

As we observe our three-week period of mourning (6/27-7/18) for the destruction of both Holy Temples and the exile of our ancestors from our Jewish homeland, we are meant to reflect on the reasons that caused our exile. Dysfunctional relationships, insensitivity, self-centeredness, and baseless dislike (or even hatred) of others, are the main reasons that led (and still lead) to our downfall. Through introspection and a commitment to improve, we have the power to transform tragedy into joy and bring about the coming of the Messianic age. 

Since we all have a tendency to avoid things that make us uncomfortable, Judaism developed a variety of laws and customs to help us focus. Additionally, these practices help cultivate a connection between us and past generations. The nature of the observances are mainly based on various expressions of mourning and loss that increase in their intensity as the weeks go on.

Therefore, as of the 1st of Av (Sat. 7/10 – 7/18) we no longer: eat meat/poultry or drink wine (except for Shabbat), swim, shower/bathe for pleasure, vacation, garden, launder, iron, sew (including any form of needlework), buy furniture, make home improvements, wear freshly laundered or dry-cleaned “overclothes” (as opposed to “underclothes”), give gifts, have surgery or go to court.

If any of these practices pose a problem for you and you don’t want to compromise the spirit of this period, please contact me for advice on how to resolve the issue.

So far, my focus has been on creating an atmosphere by not doing certain things. However, what proactive steps can we take to make this a meaningful experience? Please refer to the list of recommended films and books that I have compiled to help people utilize this time period. 

Blog #2: "'Liberated' ethnic studies curriculum fails to liberate California schools from anti-Semitism," by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, originally published on the Jewish News Syndicate

In this article, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, the director of AMCHA Initiative (a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism at colleges and universities) identifies a seriously troubling issue. She explains how public school children are being taught a libelous curriculum, despite the immense preventative efforts of California’s Jewish community.  The consequences of children being taught an anti-Semitic/anti-Israel perspective will undoubtedly result in problems for us in the future. This is really scary.   

Blog #3: "Is there a future for Jews in the United States?" by Micah D. Halperin, originally published on the Jerusalem Post

Micah D. Halpern raises the above question. Mr. Halpern is a columnist, author, and social/political commentator, specializing in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance for impact upon Jewish communities. In the following article, he argues that despite the dramatic spike in violence against Jews over the past year, there is a future for Jews in the United States. However, this is conditional upon getting good non-Jews to stand with us. From my perspective, while it is very important for human beings to be able to discern between good and bad, right and wrong, etc. and take a stand, the future of the Jews in America has more to do with us being true to our Judaism than non-Jews coming to our defense. What do you think?