Our guest this week is Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn of the B’nai David-Judea community in L.A. Rabbanit Thomas-Newborn is a graduate of Yeshivat Maharat and of Brandeis University. Rabbanit Alissa is also a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) through Neshama: the Association of Jewish Chaplains. She has specialities in Palliative Care, End of Life Care, and Psychiatric Care. She has worked as a chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, and Bellevue Hospital. She was also a writer for the Center for Jewish End of Life Care at Metropolitan Jewish Health System. Rabbanit Thomas-Newborn was a fellow both at Clal: The National Center for Jewish Learning and Leadership and at the UJA-Federation of New York Wiener Educational Center. She has been a Scholar-in-Residence at various universities and shuls around the country.
This week’s Torah portion — Parashat Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1–17:27) — features Abram’s Journey to the land of Canaan, his forced departure to Egypt, his covenant with God, the birth of Ishmael, Abram’s circumcision, and the changing of his name to Abraham. Our discussion focuses on the difficult beginning of Abraham’s journey and on how flaws and mistakes can actually be essential to a holy journey.
Our past discussions of Parashat Lech Lecha:
Rabbi Avram Mlotek on the idea of being “on the other side”
Rabbi Michelle Dardashti on why Abraham is sent forth by God and why he’s responsive to God’s call
Rabbi Hyim Schafner on the character of Abraham, why he was chosen, and the importance of his journey to Israel
Danya Ruttenberg on the symbolic nature of the uncertainty facing Abraham and the problematic father-son relationships in the stories of the patriarchs