I've Always Wondered
What’s Up with Replacing Haftarot and Not Replacing Haftarot? Originally Published June 25-26, 2021.

This coming week we begin the three-week countdown to Tish’ah BeAv, commemorating the three weeks between when the Romans broke through the walls of Jerusalem on 17 Tammuz in the year 70 CE (which we believe was the year 3830) and Tish’ah BeAv (the 9th of Av that same year) when they destroyed the Second […]

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I've Always Wondered
What Is a “Casar Torah” Purportedly on Our Façade? Originally Published on June 18-19, 2021.

A while back a congregant who is a member of the Casar family dropped us a note asking about Beth Shalom architect Alexander Sharove’s description of the façade of the building, published in The Jewish Criterion on July 24, 1931.  The architect said this about the design: The exterior is constructed of two-toned, cream colored […]

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I've Always Wondered
Who Was Meyer Myron Katz, Whose Birthday Is June 15th? Originally Published June 11-12, 2021.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 15, 1909, to Menachem and Johanna Katz, Meyer Myron “Mickey” Katz would go on to become a popular musician / comedian.  He heard a clarinet soloist, and wanted to learn.  The sympathetic school bandmaster found him a clarinet dating from the Spanish American War and, working for his uncle […]

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I've Always Wondered
Who Was Saul Bellow? Originally Published June 4-5, 2021.

Born Solomon Bellows on June 10, 1915, in Lachine, Quebec, near Montreal, to Lescha and Abraham Bellows, immigrants from St. Petersburg (and his grandfather had been born in Vilnius), over his lifetime writer Saul Bellow would be awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts.  He was the […]

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I've Always Wondered
What Is the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces)? Originally Published May 28-29, 2021.

Established on May 31, 1948, by David Ben-Gurion, a mere two weeks after Israel’s declaration of independence, the IDF comprises the military of the State of Israel:  army, navy, and air force.  Based on the theory that the best offense is a solid defense, the model of the IDF is being ready to quell any […]

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I've Always Wondered
What Is The Priestly Blessing? Originally Published May 21-22, 2021.

Found in Numbers 6:24-26, the Priestly Blessing (בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים) is an invocation by the Almighty for the Priests (the Kohanim) to bless the people of Israel, with a prescribed formula.  Verse 27 then says that God will follow through.   This became part of the procedure at the Temple.   Each morning and evening the priests would […]

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I've Always Wondered
What Is That Prayer for Healing Called? Originally Published May 14-15, 2021.

There are times when we as a community pray for the healing of body and spirit of our friends and family members.  In our tradition, during a Torah service (weekday, holiday, or even Shabbat when we wouldn’t otherwise ask for anything), there is a point at which the leader will lead us in a prayer […]

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I've Always Wondered
No Nun? Originally Published May 7-8, 2021.

Ashrei, a bit of liturgy which we read three times per day, is a combination of Psalm 84:5, Psalm 144:15, and Psalm 145.  The first part says how fortunate we people are to dwell in the house of the Almighty, followed immediately by a restatement saying how blessed we are.  The Psalm 145 section, then, is […]

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I've Always Wondered
What Did Theodor Herzl Do Besides Initiating Political Zionism? Originally Published April 30 - May 1, 2021.

Theodor Herzl was born on May 2, 1860, to a family of German-speaking Jews in Budapest, Hungary.  While still a child, he moved with his family to Vienna, Austria.  He would go on to receive a law degree from the University of Vienna.  He became a journalist and playwright, creating about one play per year, […]

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I've Always Wondered
Who Are the Karaites, and Why Is Their Shavuot Always on Sunday? Originally Published April 23-24, 2021.

Back in the eighth and ninth century CE, in the region of Persia, there were many who balked at the notion of oral Torah.  They seemed to feel that all we need is what is written, what was given by the Almighty, without the Oral Law.  These folks banded together in sects, loosely known as […]

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