Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Shelach with Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin


Our guest this week is Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin, leader of the Am Yisrael congregation in Northfield, Illinois. Rabbi Newman Kamin came to Am Yisrael in 1990 to serve as the congregation’s Assistant Rabbi. In 1994 she became the Congregation’s sole Rabbi. At that time Am Yisrael became the first congregation in the Chicago metropolitan area to be headed by a woman, and for many years was the largest Conservative congregation in the country to have that honour. Rabbi Newman Kamin serves on the Chancellor’s Cabinet of the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is also a member of The Executive Council of the Rabbinical Assembly and was President of the Chicago chapter of the Rabbinical Assembly (2004-06). She currently serves as the Financial Secretary of the national Rabbinical Assembly and was selected to participate in the prestigious Hartman Institute program. Rabbi Newman Kamin is the 2005 recipient of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Rabbi Simon Greenberg Rabbinic Achievement Award.

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 psychological state of the people of Israel in the desert.

Our previous talks about Parashat Shelach:

Rabbi Jeffrey Arnovitz on Joshua’s model of leadership

Michael Melchior on the identity of the spies sent to Canaan

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