Aron Hirt-Manheimer

Aron Hirt-Manheimer

Inside Leadership
Rabbi Spratt and others working with a bar mitzvah student at the lecturn on the bimah

Rabbi Benjamin Spratt serves as senior associate rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City, where he is also rabbi-in-residence of its school. Currently, he is the commentator for the Book of Leviticus in Reform Voices of Torah, part of the Ten Minutes of Torah series, which explores all facets of Jewish life and to which readers can subscribe. I asked Rabbi Spratt to tell us about his unusual Jewish journey and to share some of his insights into the third book of the Bible.

ReformJudaism.org: Growing up in Salt Lake City, UT, what were some of your early Jewish...

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Rabbi Larry Raphael

In 1996, in an effort to realize his vision of creating a literate and involved Reform Jewish community, then UAHC President Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie inaugurated the Department of Adult Jewish Growth and chose Rabbi Lawrence Raphael, formerly a dean at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), to serve as its founding director. At the end of his tenure at the Union in 2002, Rabbi Raphael became senior rabbi at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, CA.

Rabbi Raphael, z”l, died on March 17, 2019 at the age of 74. The following is excerpted from his conversation...

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A black and white photo of the late Al Vorspan with a pipe in his mouth looking off into the distance

Albert Vorspan, z"l, a giant for social justice, died on February 17 at the age of 95.

When Al helped organize the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in the nation’s capital, he could not have imagined that some 70 years later, he’d be viewed by many as a giant of social justice – even as a modern Hebrew prophet.

What did Al have in common with Amos or Micah or Isaiah? Like them, Al was not afraid to speak truth to power. Though he never claimed to be God’s spokesperson, Al felt commanded by the Torah’s ethical values and a love of humanity.

In 1964, Al was...

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Fiddler on the Roof Yiddish

You don’t have to know mamalushen (the mother tongue) to enjoy the hit musical Fidler Afn Dakh in Yiddish. English subtitles are supplied, but getting the tam (flavor) of few key words and colorful expressions will enhance your theatrical experience – and enrich your Jewish vocabulary.

Our guide to Anatevke, a little shtetl (town) on the eve of the Russian revolution (erev der revolutsye), is Tevye der milkhiker (the milkman). He is an oreman  (poor man), who complains to Got (God), also known as Reboyne-shel-oylem (Master of the Universe), about all the tsores (troubles) that...

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Disembodied arm with fist held high in the air

Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month is an opportunity every February for a national conversation about disability, including the different ways people with disabilities – nearly one in four Americans – identify today. Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher, LCSW, director of Union for Reform Judaism’s Presidential Initiative for Disabilities Inclusion, helps us understand why the language of disability is such a powerful determinant of social attitudes, from prejudice to pride.

ReformJudaism.org: What are some of the assumptions we make about those of us with...

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