Reflections from Worms

July 25, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Travel
Moving along the Rhine from Mainz one arrives in Worms. Along with Mainz and Speyer Worms is one of the Kehilot Shum, the three great centres of medieval Torah learning in Ashkenaz. It was here that Rashi came to study before returning to France.   The most important medieval Rabbi in Worms was the Maharam MeRutenburg, Moreinu verabbeinu Rav Meir. He is considered the last of the Tosafists[1]. Born in Worms in the mid-13th century he...
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Balak: Animal Rights, Human Wrongs

"The pre-eminence of man over beast is non-existent, for all is vain" (Shacharit). Man has unfortunately proven the truth of this statement over and over again. Our desire for momentary pleasure all too often blinds us to the long term repercussions of our actions. Moreover our cruelty, cunning, deceit, and moral decay know no bounds.    Even animals at times display an innate sense of what is right and wrong....
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Musings from Mainz

July 22, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Travel
  Askenazic Jewry begins as Jews settle along the Rhine river in the middle decades of the tenth century. While individual Jews may have arrived in earlier years it is only in the 10th century when the first communities are established.    It is Rabbeinu Gershom of Mainz who puts Askenaz on the map. Biographically we know little of him and his fame today rests primarily with the takkanot he established...
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Reflections from Germany - Part 3

July 20, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Travel
  In our last post I discussed our meeting three of the communal rabbis of Berlin. We also met with the Rabbi of the separatist community of Adass Jisrael.    In 1876 Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch was granted permission by the German government to set up a separatist community. He did not want any of his tax money used to support Reform institutions and set out to create an Orthodox-only Jewish community. His view...
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Some More Reflections from Berlin

July 19, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Travel
Of the approximately 520,000 Jews living in Germany in 1933 over 300,000 emigrated before the war. Living under Nazi rule they saw the danger long before others and many managed to flee before it was too late. The Nazis yemach shemam themselves encouraged Jews to leave and it was only in late 1941 that the doors of emigration closed. While many thereby survived some had the misfortune of fleeing to countries later invaded by...
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