Arrival in Athens

July 03, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Philosophy, mathematics, democracy, the Olympics, architecture, libraries, trial by jury, mythology, and the alphabet are just some of the contributions made by ancient Greeks to the world of today. Is it any wonder that so many were, and still are, attracted to Greek culture[1]? Should we be surprised that the greatest of Jewish philosophers (and many other disciplines), the Rambam, felt the imperative to reconcile Jewish philosophy with its...
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Reflections from Frankfurt

August 01, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  Often when we think of Frankfurt we think of Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch. And for good reason. He almost single handedly is responsible for creating a community of observant Jews. But just as Zevulun comes before Yissachar because his financial support allowed his brother to learn, none of what he accomplished would have been possible if not for the foresight and support of the Rothschild family who in 1851 invited Hirsch to lead the...
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Reflections from Worms

July 25, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
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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Musings from Mainz

July 22, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  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
  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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