Our guest this week is Rabbi Marci Bellows, leader of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester, CT. Rabbi Bellows earned a B.A. in Psychology from Brandeis University, and she received a Masters in Hebrew Literature and her ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Prior to her current position, Rabbi Bellows worked as both Adult Program Director and as Assistant Rabbi at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York, NY, and, most recently, she served as the spiritual leader at Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh, NY from 2009-2016. Rabbi Bellows wrote the popular feature column, “Reform, Really,” on The Jewish Week’s website, was a recurring guest on The Jewish Channel’s “Rabbis Roundtable” television program, and was named one of the top “Jews on Twitter” by The Huffington Post.
This week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Shelach (Numbers 13:1- 15:41) – features the famous story of the twelve spies sent to examine the land of Canaan. It tells about how the people of Israel cry and grumble against Moses and Aaron, asking to go back to Egypt, and about God’s declaration that they will spend 40 years in the wilderness. The parasha ends with a set of commandments concerning offerings to God and with a curious story about a man who is stoned for picking up sticks on Shabbat. Our discussion focuses on the fears facing the spies and on what we can learn from this episode as we face our own fears of the unknown.