November 16, 2018

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parshat Toldot with Rabbi Jeremy Rosen

Jeremy Rosen, is an orthodox rabbi, born in Manchester. Studied philosophy at Cambridge University in England and Be’er Yaakov and Mir yeshivot in Israel where he received Semicha. He has served as a community rabbi of orthodox congregations in Scotland and England. He was Principal of Carmel College in Oxfordshire, Professor and Chairman of the Faculty for Comparative Religion Wilrijk Belgium and Rabbi and Director of the YAKAR Educational Foundation in London. He retired to New York where he is the rabbi of the Persian Jewish community in Manhattan and lectures at the JCC of Manhattan.

This week’s Torah portion — Parashat Toldot  (Genesis 25:19-28:9) — tells us the fascinating story of Jacob and Esau and of the selling of Esau’s birthright to Jacob. Our discussion focuses on good guys, bad guys and the many faces of the Torah.



Previous Torah Talks on Toldot

Rabbi Robert Scheinberg

Rabbi Adina Lewittes

Rabbi Yael Saidoff

Rabbi Aderet Drucker

Maharat Ruth Balinsky





Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parshat Vayera with Rabbi Adam Roffman

Rabbi Adam Roffman serves Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas Texas. He is a graduate of Amherst College with a degree in Political Science, and Circle in the Square Theatre School with a certificate in Musical Theatre Performance. He began his rabbinic education at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Rabbi Roffman graduated with a Masters in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary where he was awarded the The Rabbi Max Gelb Memorial Prize in Talmud and the Israel H. Levinthal Prize in Homiletics.

This week’s Torah portion —Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24) — features several of the most well-known stories in the Bible, including the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the birth of Isaac, the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael, and the binding of Issac. Our discussion focuses on angels and their role in the world.



Previous Torah Talks on Vayera

Rabbi Dahlia Bernstein

Rabbi Leah Cohen

Rabbi Eitan Mintz

Rabbi Talia Avnon-Benvenisti

Rabbi Amy Levin




Rosner’s Torah Talk: Sukkot’s Shabbat with Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker

Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker has served as a rabbi at Mount Zion since 1997. When he and Cantor Spilker came to the congregation, he led adult and family education and youth activities for four years.  In 2001, he was selected as senior rabbi.  Rabbi Spilker graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in Religious Studies from Duke University in 1991 and was ordained as a rabbi with a Masters of Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in 1997.  He and Cantor Spilker have three children.

In the Shabbat of Sukkot we read how Moses requests to be shown G‑d’s glory. G‑d tells Moses to carve new tablets for the Ten Commandments. G‑d seals a covenant with Moses. He instructs the people to destroy all vestiges of idolatry from the land.The Jews are commanded to observe the three festivals — including Sukkot, “the festival of the ingathering, at the turn of the year.” The maftir, from the Book of Numbers, discusses the public offerings brought in the Temple on this day of Sukkot.




Rosner’s Torah Talk: Matot-Masei with Rabbi Ariana Silverman

Ariana Silverman is the Rabbi of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, the last freestanding synagogue in the City of Detroit. Raised in Chicago, she received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University, her ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program. She lives in Detroit with her family.

This Week’s Torah portion – Parashat Matot-Masei (Numbers 30:2-36:13) – begins with Moses presenting the heads of the tribes with rules concerning the annulment of vows. War is waged against Midian and the Torah lists the different spoils Israel took hold of in their victory and describes how they are distributed. The tribes of Gad, Reuben and half of Menashe ask Moses for the territory East of the Jordan as their portion of the promised land, and Moses eventually agrees on the condition that they first help conquering the west part West of the Jordan. The boundaries of the Promised Land are stated, and cities of refuge are designated as havens for people who commit inadvertent murder. The portion ends with the story of the daughters of Tzelafchad marrying men of their own tribe (Menashe) in order to keep the estate which they inherited from their father within their own tribe. Our conversation focuses on the two and a half tribes’ request for land and on what this episode could teach us about conflict resolution.
Previous Torah Talks about Matot-Masei
Rabbi Uri Regev

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parshat Balak with Rabbi Jonathan Freirich

Rabbi Jonathan Freirich is the rabbi of Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo.

Rabbi Freirich received rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1999. Since becoming a rabbi, he has served Jews of all ages at Hillel organizations on college campuses in Tucson and Cleveland, at Jewish homes for the aged, at a vibrant Reform congregation named Temple Bat Yam in the mountains of South Lake Tahoe, and most recently, at the premier Reform synagogue of the Carolinas, Temple Beth El in Charlotte.

This Week’s Torah portion – Parashat Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9) – features the famous story of the prophet Bilaam, who was sent by the Moabite king Balak to curse the people of Israel. On his way, Bilaam is berated by his Donkey who sees an angel of God blocking the road. Bilaam tries to curse the people of Israel three times (from three different vantage points) and each time ends up blessing them. He then continues to prophesize on the end of days and the coming of the Messiah. Our discussion tries to examine Bilaam’s odd story, its message, and its special status in Judaism.


Previous Torah Talks on Balak:

Rabbi Elliot Dorff

Rabbi Steven Bayar

Rabbi Barry Dolinger

Rabbi Joey Wolf

Rabbi Brett Krichiver






Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parshat Chukat With Rabbi David Cohen Henriquez

Born and raised in Panama City, Panama Rabbi David CohenHenriquez brings a diverse, multicultural perspective and passion for Jewish education and spiritual guidance. Rabbi David was ordained at the Hebrew College Rabbinical School, focused on a multi-denominational approach to Judaism. He has served in communities in New Hampshire, Panama and Los Angeles, where he served at the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel. He currently serves in the North Shore of Massachusetts, as Rabbi at Temple Sinai as well as being the resident Rabbi at the Eptstein Hillel School.

The rabbi’s vision is to create engaging opportunities for Jews of all venues to express the values of Judaism in every area of their lives, drawing upon from the natural world and the wisdom of the Torah and our conversation with our tradition. Currently kicking off a Teen Beit Midrash, a multi denominational, pluralistic, approach to Torah and tradition. With sources from the Bible to Midrash, from Yiddish literature to the Hasidic tradition, modern Israeli and American Jewish authors. Rabbi David is dedicated to fostering a creative, participatory, and
genuine embrace of Jewish religious learning and living.

This week’s torah portion- Parashat Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)- Features the death of Aaron and Miriam, brother and sister of Moses, and the famous story of Moses striking the stone.

After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the people of Israel arrive at the wilderness of Zin, where Miriam dies and gets buried. As the people become thirsty God tells Moses to order a rock to yield water. After Moses strikes the rock twice, God punishes him by denying him entrance to the land of Israel.  Aaron dies at and is succeeded by his son Elazar who becomes the new High Priest. After the people speak against God and Moses, snakes attack the Israelite camp. God tells Moses to put a brass serpent on a high pole, and says that whoever will gaze at it will be healed. Moses subsequently leads the people in battles against the Emorite kings Sichon and Og and conquers their lands, which lie east of the river Jordan.



Previous Torah Talks on Chukat

Rabbi Sharon Brous

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin

Rabbi Matt Carl

Rabbi Justin Goldstein

Rabbi Alan Green


Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parshat Korach with rabbi Shawn Zevit

Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit, is the lead rabbi of congregation Mishkan Shalom, in Philadelphia, PA, co-founder and co-director of the Davennen Leader’s Training Institute and is a spiritual director and trainer of Jewish clergy in spiritual direction for the ALEPH Hashpa’ah (Spiritual Direction) program. He is also a recording and performing artist  with six original CDs and has been an organizer for over thirty years of men’s programming and retreats, and is the author of  “Offerings of the Heart: Money and Values in Faith Community” and numerous publications.

This week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) – tells the dramatic story of a mutiny incited by Korach against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Korach is joined by Datan and Aviram as well as by 250 distinguished members of the community who offer incense to prove they are worthy of the priesthood. The earth opens up and swallows the mutineers, and a fire kills the incense offerers. Aaron subsequently stops a plague by offering incense of his own and his staff then brings forth almonds, proving that his designation as high priest is divinely ordained. Our discussion focuses on the purge of Korach’s followers and on Moses and Aaron’s reaction to the episode.



Previous Torah Talks on Korach

Rabbi Daniel Nevins

Rabbi Susan Silverman

Rabbi Rachel Bregman

Rabbi Joshua Katzan

Rabbi Raysh Weiss


Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parshat Shelach with rabbi Benji Stanley

Our guest this week is rabbi Benji Stanley, the Rabbi of Westminster Synagogue, an independent shul in the middle of London. He is passionate about getting  stuck into texts and has taught and helped to build the Limmud Bet Midrash, Open Talmud Project, Kehilat Kentish, and Willesden Minyan. He is married to Rabbi Leah Jordan.

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 character of Joshua as a model for leadership development and as an example of our ability to change and improve ourselves.



Previous Torah Talks on this parsha:

Rabbi Michael Melchior

Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz

Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin

Rabbi Shana Mackler

Rabbi Marci Bellows


Torah Talk: Parashat Behaalotcha with Rabbi Jack Romberg

Rabbi Jack Romberg has served the congregation of Temple Israel in Tallahassee since July of 2001.  Being a rabbi is his second career.  Rabbi Romberg led his family’s furniture manufacturing business for almost three 18 years.  He entered Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion at age 42.  He was ordained in NYC in May of 2001.  In Tallahassee Rabbi Romberg has led many programs and initiatives.  He is currently serving as the chair of The Village Square, a nationally recognized organization that creates civil conversations, both politically and religiously.  One program he created is Faith, Food and Friday, a monthly discussion with a panel of 5 clergy on current issues.  His biggest pride, however, is in his 3 grandchildren ages 9, 7 and 4.  And other than Judaism, his greatest passion is being a Philadelphia sports fan, especially of the Eagles and Phillies.
This week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:15) – begins with the lighting of the menorah and then goes on to describe the cleansing of the Levites and the first celebration of Passover in the desert. The Torah subsequently describes a series of bitter complaints made by the people of Israel about life in the desert, and the portion concludes with Moses’ sister Miriam speaking slander about Moses to their brother Aaron and getting punished for it with a terrible skin disease. Our discussion focuses on the family of Moses and on Miriam’s curious punishment.


Previous Torah Talk on Behaalotcha:

Rabbi Charyl Jacobs

Rabbi Jonathan Case

Rabbi Rick Winer

Rabbi Irwin Kula

Rabbi Adam Chalom



Rosner’s Torah Talk: Bamidbar with Rabbi Yehuda Ferris

Today we discuss Parshat Bamidbar with Rabbi Yehuda Ferris, of Chabad in Berkeley, California.

This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20) – is the first portion read from the book of Numbers. The Parasha tells us about an elaborate census of the tribes of Israel conducted by Moses in the desert and continues to discuss the priests’ ceremonial duties. Our discussion focuses on the meaning behind the counting of the people of Israel and on their long, gruelling transformation from slaves to a nation of priests.



Previous Talks on Bamidbar:

Rabbi Eric Yoffie

Rabbi Andrea London

Rabbi David Ackerman

Rabbi Amy Bernstein






Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Achrei-Mot Kedoshim with Rabbi Elyssa Joy Austerklein

Rabbi Elyssa Joy Austerklein serves as senior rabbi of Beth El Congregation in Akron, Ohio. She is a graduate of Brandeis University, BU School of Theology, and the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. She is an artist, yogi, Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, and was named one of America’s 33 most inspiring rabbis of 2015 by The Forward. She is a devoted wife and mother.

We read two parshas this week. Parashat Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:30) – describes the Tabernacle ceremony of the Day of Atonement, establishes general rules for sacrifice and sanctuary, and lays down specific laws about sexual relationships. Our discussion focuses on the curious practice of sending a goat to ‘Azazel’ on Yom Kippur as part of the process of atonement.

Parashat Kedoshim (Leviticus 19:1- 20:27)- features God telling Moses to give the people of Israel a set of rules which are meant to help them live a life of holiness. These rules include variations on several of the ten commanments, as well as different laws concerning basic ethical behavior (prohibitions on cheating, stealing and false oaths), harvest,  religious rituals, and sexual conduct.


Previous Torah Talks on Achrei Mot and Kedoshim

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Laurence Bazer

Rabbi Ilan Glazer

Rabbi Elie Abadie

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

Rabbi Joel Mosbacher

Rabbi Matthew Soffer


Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Tazria-Metzora with Rabbi Alan Bright

Our guest this week is Rabbi Alan W. Bright of Shaare Zedek Congregation in Montreal. He completed his education doing Jewish Studies from London School of Jewish Studies (London) and Concordia University. He was also at the Yemin Orde and became an active member of this Youth Village.

This week’s double parashah – Parashat Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12:1-15:33) – features rules concerning the purity and impurity of women and the horrible disease of leprosy. Our discussion focuses on the priests’ curious attitude toward people inflicted with skin disease.



Previous Torah Talks on Tazria and Metzora:

Rabbi Elie Weinstock

Rabbi Joshua Aaronson

Rabbi Hillel Skolnik

Rabbi Jonathan Aaron

Rabbi Sheldon Lewis


Torah Talk: Parshat Shemini with Rabbi Claudio Kupchik

Rabbi Claudio Kupchik became the Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth El of Cedarhurst in 2017.

Kupchik was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While completing medical studies at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School, he determined that Jewish studies and serving the Jewish people was truly his calling and his first love. He studied at the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical School in Latin America, where he was ordained in 1990. Upon coming to the US, he continued his studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in NY achieving an MA in Talmud and Rabbinics. Rabbi Kupchik resides in Woodmere with his wife Ann-Rebecca Laschever. They have two boys, Jacob and Simon.

In parshat Shemini: Following the seven days of their inauguration, Aaron and his sons begin to officiate as kohanim (priests). Aaron’s two elder sons, Nadav and Avihu, offer a “strange fire before G‑d” and die. Aaron is silent in face of his tragedy. G‑d commands the kosher laws, identifying the animal species permissible and forbidden for consumption. Also in Shemini are some of the laws of ritual purity.

Previous talk on Parshat Shemini:

Rabbi Gordon Tucker

Rabbi Ahud Sela

Rabbi Andrew Paley

Rabbi Daniel Fellman









Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Passover with Rabbi David Kay

Rabbi David Kay was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTSA) in 2002, where he also received a Master of Arts degree in education. Rabbi Kay serves Congregation Ohev Shalom in Maitland, FL. Founded in 1918, Ohev Shalom is central Florida’s original and oldest continuing Jewish congregation. He also serves on the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. He is a member of the Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Council of Clergy and the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, for which he coordinates Orlando’s annual interfaith celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Our discussion focuses on the Torah reading for Passover.


Previous Torah Talks for Passover included:

Rabbi Joel Levy

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

Rabbi Debra Orenstein






Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Ki Tisa with with Rabbi David Kosak

David Kosak of Congregation Neveh Shalom in Portland Oregon is a 30th generation rabbi, but his path to the rabbinate had its own plot twists. His first career as a chef and entrepreneur brought him out West from his native New York, where he had earned a BA in Philosophy from NYU.  His formal education includes an MA in Rabbinics from the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism).  David pursued advanced studies at Mechon Schechter, Hebrew University, Yakar Torah Center for Tradition and Creativity, and the Hartman Institute, all in Jerusalem.  He received his Rabbinic Ordination in 2006 from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Bel Air, California. His post-ordination studies include a stint as a STAR fellow and advanced courses on areas of Jewish law such as Gittin (Jewish divorce) and industrial kashrut.

This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35) – begins with the census of the people of Israel and with further instructions concerning the Tabernacle and the Shabbat. The portion then proceeds to tell the story of the Golden Calf, Moses’ plea to god, the splitting of the Tablets into two, and the giving of the second tablets. Our discussion focuses, among other things, on the reason behind the people of Israel’s discontent and on the possible role of Moses’ leadership in their sin.


More Rosner Torah Talks on Ki Tisa:

Rabbi Rachel Ain

Rabbi Gabe Greenberg

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Rabbi Charles Arian




Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Tetzaveh with Rabbi Fred Morgan

Rabbi Fred Morgan AM has lived in the United States, England and Australia.  He was Lecturer in the Religions of India at the University of Bristol before entering the Leo Baeck College, London, where he received rabbinic s’mikhah in 1984.  He has served congregations in Britain, Hungary and Australasia.  In 2013, he was made Emeritus at Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne, Australia’s flagship Progressive synagogue, after 16 years as Senior Rabbi.  Since then Rabbi Morgan has been Professorial Fellow at the Australian Catholic University, coordinator of the Grass Roots Dialogue Project for the Council of Christians and Jews in Victoria, and Movement Rabbi for the Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.  He has lectured and published extensively on Jewish and interfaith themes.  In 2014 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to the Jewish Community and interfaith dialogue. He is married to Sue and they have three children and a grandchild.

This week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10) – continues giving us the instructions concerning the tabernacle, focusing on the role of the priesthood. Our discussion focuses on the relation between the ‘Ner Tamid’ – the perpetual light of the Temple – and the elaborate description of the clothing of the priests.

Other talks on Parshat Tetzaveh:

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf

Rabbi Peter Stein

Rabbi Alvan Kaunfer






Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Trumah with Rabbi Jason Strauss

Rabbi Jason Strauss is the rabbi of Congregation Kadimah-Toras Moshe in Brighton, MA and a Judaic Studies teacher at Maimonides School in Brookline, MA.

Rabbi Strauss studied for rabbinical ordination at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He completed his masters degree in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2013 and his bachelors degree in engineering at Columbia University in 2011. Before that, he spent a year studying at Yeshivat Shaalvim in Israel.

This week’s Torah portion – Parashat Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19) – is largely dedicated to the detailed instructions for the building of the holy Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. Our discussion focuses on the somewhat confusing idea of the divine command to be voluntary generous.

Previous Torah Talks on Parshat Trumah:

Rabbi Jason Miller

Rabbi Carl Perkins

Rabbi Michael Boyden

Rabbi Dov Asher






Torah Talk: Parashat Bo with Rabbi Amy Joy Small

Rabbi Amy Joy Small was is the Senior Rabbi of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue of Burlington, Vermont from 2016. Previously, Rabbi Small worked in Jewish innovation by creating and directing Deborah’s Palm Center for Jewish Learning & Experiences in Morristown, New Jersey. Through Deborah’s Palm Center, Rabbi Small taught and facilitated Jewish experiences for adults, emphasizing questions from our everyday lives, explored through Jewish texts and ideas.

Rabbi Small has served congregations in New Jersey, Michigan and Indiana. She is a past president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, where she served on the board for many years. She is a fellow of Rabbis Without Borders and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a Storahtelling Maven, and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa, from RRC in 2012.

This week’s Torah portion – Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16) – features the final three plagues of Egypt, the People of Israel’s departure from Egypt, and the first Passover celebration. Our discussion focuses on the idea of maintaining positivity and recognizing the point of view of the other in our struggle for Justice.

Previous Torah Talks on Parshat Bo:

Rabbi Joel Zeff

Rabbi Adam Zeff

Rabbi Zvi Grumet

Rabbi Nissan Antine









Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Vayechi with Rabbi Chaim Strauchler

Rabbi Chaim Strauchler serves as the rabbi of Shaarei Shomayim Congregation in Toronto, Ontario. Rabbi Strauchler received his ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. Rabbi Strauchler earned a Diploma in Theology and a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies from Bernard Revel Graduate School, and is a Wexner Graduate Fellowshipalumnus.  As a student, Rabbi Strauchler founded the literary journal, Mima’amakim.  Before joining Shaarei Shomayim, Rabbi Strauchler served as rabbi at Beit Chaverim Synagogue in Westport, Connecticut.  Rabbi Strauchler is currently a member of the executive of the Rabbinical Council of America and the Rabbinical Vaad HaKashruth of COR.

Parashat Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26) is the final portion of the book of Genesis. The portion describes the final days of Jacob, the blessing given to his sons, Jacob’s death and burial, and the death of Joseph.


Previous Torah Talks on Veyechi with:

Rabbi Denise Eger

Rabbi Josh Yuter

Rabbi Joanne Heiligman


Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Noach with Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein

Rabbi Moshe Lichtenstein

Our guest this week is Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein, Co-Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut. Rabbi Lichtenstein, son of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, made Aliyah with his family in 1971 from New York. From 1979-1985, he studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion while serving in the IDF Armoured Corps. He received Semicha from the Israeli Rabbinate and a degree in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Rabbi Lichtenstein has been a Ram in Yeshivat Har Etzion since 1992. While on sabbatical in Cleveland during the 97 and 98 academic years, he served as Rosh Kollel of the Torat Tzion Kollel. He also taught at Bruria, an Advanced Program for Women in Jerusalem from 1992-1997. Rabbi Lichtenstein is the author of Moses: Envoy of God, Envoy of His People and Netivei Nevua, an analysis of the haftarot.

This week’s Torah portion – Parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32) – features the famous story of Noah’s ark and of the great flood, as well as the story of the Tower of Babel. Our talk focuses on Noah as the resolution of the basic problem of human existence in Nature, a theme that runs like a thread through Parshat Bereshit.


Our past discussions of Parashat Noach:

Rabbi Sarah Hronsky on the powerful notion of one language for all humanity

Rabbi Lucy Diner on Noah’s curious proclivity toward alcohol

Rabbi Mishael Zion on Noah as a precursor to Abraham




Rosner’s Torah Talk: Rosh Hashanah with Rabbi Steven Wernick

Rabbi Steven Wernick

Our guest for Rosh Hashanah is Rabbi Steven Wernick, Chief Executive Officer of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). Rabbi Wernick was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary. After ordination, he served as the Associate Rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and more recently as the senior rabbi at Adath Israel in suburban Philadelphia. He also served as the president of Mid Atlantic Regional Rabbinical Assembly. Rabbi Wernick has been named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America and The Forward’s List of 50 Influential Jewish Leaders.

Our talk focuses on the powerful Unetanneh Tokef prayer and on the disturbing idea of our fates being out of our control.


Our past Rosh Hashanah talks:

Rabbi Michael Schudrich on the element of renewal and self-improvement in the holiday and in the story of the Jewish tradition

Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein about the special role of humility in the core of the Amidah section of the Rosh Hashanah service

Shanah Tovah!

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech with Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky

Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky

Our guest this week is Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky, leader of the Anshe Chessed congregation in Manhattan. Rabbi Kalmanofsky was ordained in 1997 by The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he was a Wexner Graduate Fellow, and joined Anshe Chessed in 2001. He regularly publishes essays on Jewish thought and practice, and he serves on the Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.

Parashat Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20) – begins with Moses gathering the people of Israel to enter them into a covenant with God. Moses then warns of the great desolation that will befall them if they stray from the covenant, but he assures them that if they repent God will bring them back together again from the ends of the world. Our discussion focuses on the idea of acknowledging our human imperfection and choosing life.


Our past discussions of Nitzavim Vayelech:

Rabbi Morley Feinstein on the difficulty of doing mitzvoth, repenting and making Jewish choices

Rabbi Marc Margolius on the evolution of Moses as a leader

Rabbi Richard Block on the nature and scope of Israel’s special covenant with God


Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Ki Tavo with Rabbi Michael Ragozin

Rabbi Michael Ragozin

Our guest this week is Rabbi Michael Ragozin, leader of the Shirat Hayam congregation in Swampscott, MA. Before coming to Shirat Hayam, Rabbi Ragozin led Congregation Sha’are Shalom in Leesburg, Virginia for six years. Outside of the congregation in VA, he was an active participant in Loudoun Interfaith BRIDGES, a board member of Hillel at George Mason University, and an On-Call Chaplain for Loudoun Hospital. Prior to becoming a rabbi, Rabbi Ragozin was a Teach for America corps member (teaching algebra in Baltimore, Maryland), worked as a technology consultant in Seattle, Washington, and was the Development Manager at the Seattle Jewish Film Festival.

This week’s Torah portion — Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) — begins with Moses instructing the people of Israel to bring the first fruit they reap in the holy land to the Holy Temple in gratitude to God. The portion continues to state the laws concerning tithes given to the Levites and to the poor. Moses then gives the children of Israel instructions on the blessings and curses they must say at Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal (the “Mount of the Blessing” and the “Mount of the Curse”). At the end of the portion, Moses gives lists of good and bad things that will happen to the people of Israel if they follow or stray from the Torah. Our discussion focuses on meaning behind the ritual offerings given by the people of Israel to the community and on what we could learn from this today.


Our past discussions of Ki Tavo:

Rabbi Paul Lewin on the confession of the farmer when he presents the first fruit to the Holy Temple and on the message of historic memory.

Rabbi Serge Lippe on the immigrant experience and professing gratitude

Rabbi Hayim Herring on the order of the curses mentioned in the parasha


Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Ki Tetze

Photo by REUTERS/David W Cerny

While we don’t have a new Torah Talk for you today, we have collected all our past talks on Parashat Ki Tetze.

This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Ki Tetze (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) – features a vast number of laws and commandments, including inheritance laws;  judicial procedures and penalties for adultery, rape and husbands who falsely accuse their wives of infidelity; laws concerning credit and debt; rules on the treatment of escaped slaves; and divorce laws. Overall, this week’s portion contains 74 of the Torah’s 613 commandments.

Here is Rabbi Michael Werbow on the command to remember Amalek and on the role of remembrance in the Torah in general:


Here is Rabbi Dovid Gutnick on the command to destroy Amalek and on the idea of vengeance as part of Jewish tradition:


Here is Rabbi Jennifer Krause on treating the mitzvot mentioned in the Parasha as a way of helping us uphold the dignity of all people:


And here is Rabbi Aaron Alexander on the eternal ban of the Ammonites and Moabites from the assembly of the Lord:

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Shoftim with Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman

Our guest is Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman . He has served as the Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth-El since 2015.  Rabbi Voss-Altman was ordained from the Cincinnati Campus of HUC-JIR in 1999 and served as an Assistant Rabbi of North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois from 1999 until 2002. He then became the rabbi of Temple B’nai Tikvah in Calgary, Alberta, where his rabbinate focused on building a strong spiritual community, pastoral care and counseling, and community and social justice issues. Rabbi Voss-Altman received Alberta’s Centennial Medal of Honour in 2005 and has served as the chair of the Canadian Association of Reform Rabbis, and the Calgary Interfaith Council. He has also served on the board of the Metro Alliance for the Common Good, Imagine Calgary, the Muslim-Jewish Alliance, the Calgary Council of Christians and Jews, and the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus.

This week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) – begins with instructions concerning the appointment of Judges and law enforcement officers. Moses commands the people of Israel to pursue Justice and to avoid corruption and favouritism. The portion also includes prohibitions of sorcery and Idolatry; rules concerning the appointment and the behaviour of Kings; and many laws of war, including the demand to offer terms of peace before going out to war. Our discussion focuses on the importance of “Shoftim ve Shotrim” (judges and police) and the importance of justice, Law and order in Judaism.

Our Past Discussions of Parashat Shoftim:

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins on the explicit command to “not deviate” from the verdict of the priests

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman on  the controversial rules of war presented in the parasha.

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster on the social justice agenda presented in the parasha and in book of Deuteronomy.

Rabbi Lester Bronstein on growing up and enforcing the law.


Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Re’eh with Rabbi Baht Yameem Weiss

Our guest this week is Rabbi Baht Yameem Weiss of Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, MD. Rabbi Weiss was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from the High School for Performing Arts in Manhattan, where she majored in the Dramatic Arts. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. Rabbi Weiss received her Master’s degree and her Rabbinical Ordination at HUC-JIR in New York. Rabbi Weiss served for four years as Assistant/Associate Rabbi at Temple Shalom in Naples, Florida. While in Florida she was a “PEER” fellow in the STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal) Executive Leadership Program, 2008-09. Rabbi Weiss currently serves as the President of the Washington Board of Rabbis.

In this Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17) – Moses continues speaking to the people of Israel right before he passes away and before they cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land. Moses asks them to recite certain blessings and curses on Mount Grizzim and Mount Ebal after they enter Israel. He demands that they destroy all remnants of idolatry from the Promised Land and asks them to choose a city which will host the Holy Temple. The Parasha also discusses false prophets, kashrut, the sabbatical year and charity. Our discussion focuses on the imperative to “open your hand,” “not harden your heart” and “lend whatever is sufficient to meet the need.”

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Ekev with Rabbi Philip Scheim

Out guest this week is Rabbi Philip Scheim of Toronto’s Beth David congregation. Rabbi Scheim is also the president of the Rabbinical Assembly. His career in the rabbinate began in 1981, when he was appointed Assistant Rabbi at Beth David B’nai Israel Beth Am. In August of 1984, Rabbi Scheim was officially designated Senior Rabbi of the congregation, and has continued to serve in that capacity ever since.

In this Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) – Moses continues his address to the people of Israel, promising them that they will prosper in the land of Israel if they obey God’s commandments. He reminds them of their sins, but stresses God’s forgiveness. Moses describes the land of Israel to the people, demands that they destroy the idols of its former dwellers, and warns them of thinking that their power and might, rather than the lord, have gotten them their wealth. Our discussion focuses on Moses’ retelling of the Golden Calf story and on the reasons behind God’s forgivness toward the people of Israel.


Our Past discussions of Parashat Ekev:

Rabbi William Hamilton on the differences between the two versions of the story about the Golden Calf.

Rabbi Robert Dobrusin on the importance of allowing our faith to grow with us and adapt to different circumstances in our lives

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield on the conditional and unconditional aspects of God’s covenant with Israel

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Devarim with Rabbi Aaron Starr

Rabbi Aaron Starr

Our guest this week is Rabbi Aaron Starr, leader of the Shaarey Zedek community in Southfield, MI. Rabbi Starr is the author of the book Taste of Hebrew (URJ Press) and Tradition vs. Modernity: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) and Conservative Halachah, published in the Journal of Conservative Judaism, as well as numerous other on-line publications. He sits on the Board of Directors for Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and the Jewish Community Relations Council. He is also a member of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Michigan Board of Rabbis, and is a past-president of the Metropolitan Detroit Board of Jewish Educators. Certified in Clinical and Pastoral Education (CPE), Rabbi Starr also has received numerous awards for youth work and for adult education.

This week’s portion – Parashat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22) – is the first portion from the book of Deuteronomy. In this parasha, Moses begins his review of the story of the people of Israel in the 40 years following their exodus from Egypt. In his narrative, he recalls events such as his appointment of Judges and magistrates; the wandering through the desert; the sending of the spies; the people’s spurning of the Promised Land; the wars fought against the Emorite kings; and his own words of encouragement to his successor Joshua. Our discussion focuses on the role of water and words in the parasha, on their power to build and their power to destroy.

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Chukat with Rabbi Alan Green

Rabbi Alan Green

Our guest this week is Rabbi Alan Green of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Winnipeg, Canada. Rabbi Green received his BA and MA in the History of Religions from UCLA, and studied Rabbinic Literature for three years at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. He received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder and Dean of the Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal, in 1991. Prior to Shaarey Zedek, Rabbi Green served as spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Emet in Montebello and as spiritual leader of Winnipeg’s Beth Israel Congregation. Rabbi Green has been Senior Rabbi of Shaarey Zedek since the fall of 2000.

This week’s Torah portion – Parashat Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1) – Features the death of Aaron and Miriam, brother and sister of Moses; the famous story of Moses striking the stone; and Israel’s battles against the Emorite kings Sichon and Og. Our talk focuses on the odd Red Cow decree and on the important role of death in the parasha.

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Bamidbar with Rabbi Amy Bernstein

Rabbi Amy Bernstein

Our guest this week is Rabbi Amy Bernstein, Senior Rabbi of the Kehillat Israel congregation in Pacific Palisades. An Atlanta native, Rabbi Bernstein has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Cultural Anthropology from Northwestern University, where she also earned a certificate in Women’s Studies. She is also an alumna of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Before coming to KI, Rabbi Bernstein was the rabbi of Temple Israel in Duluth, Minnesota for 14 years. She served two terms as president of the Arrowhead Interfaith Council and six years on the Board of Trustees of the College of St. Scholastica, where she was also on the founding board of the Oreck/Alpern Inter-religious Forum. She was a scholar-in-residence for the Jewish Chautauqua Society and lectured widely throughout the Northland. Outside of her rabbinical work, Rabbi Bernstein performs as a member of Three Altos, a vocal trio.

This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20) – is the first portion read from the book of Numbers. The Parasha tells us about an elaborate census of the tribes of Israel conducted by Moses in the desert and continues to discuss the priests’ ceremonial duties. Our discussion focuses on the meaning behind the counting of the people of Israel and on their long, gruelling transformation from slaves to a nation of priests.