October 17, 2021 |

Rabbi Avi Heller

Missing

Stuck!

I occasionally have trouble starting and stopping. After each class that I give, I add my notes, handouts and research to a pile in my living room, which precipitously begins to grow. I look at it every time I walk by (afraid that it will one day devour the room) and think to myself that I need to...

God and the Big City

In our MJE Fellowship class this week, we had a discussion about whether it is easier to love the Jews to death or hate the Jews to death. Certainly, many have tried the direct route of obliterating our bodies, buildings and books. None have succeeded. In the eternal words of Rabbi Chanina ben...

The Legacy of Judah Maccabee

The holiday of Chanuka is dedicated to the importance of Jewish education. Many of its customs - including dreidels and presents -- are rooted in getting children excited about learning Torah. The history of Chanuka tells of the attempts of a Hellenizing king to wipe out Jewish learning and...

What's In A Name

I was named for my grandfather. Twice. Rabbi Velvel Heller's name in Hebrew was Ze'ev; in English, Wolf, an exact translation. Ze'ev is also my first name in Hebrew (Zev in English.) My middle name is Aviezer[1], which has in it the three letters of Ze'ev, zayin, aleph and bet. My grandfather was...

Plymouth Rock vs. Foundation Stone

Ah, Thanksgiving is here! Most American Jews (the Hellers included) happily and proudly celebrate this holiday, comfortable in its mostly secular origins and happy to share a mid-week day of rest and relaxation with family and friends. The origin of Thanksgiving goes back to William Bradford and the...

Digging The Deepest Wells

One of the things I love to do in New York is walk the city streets with Uriel, our 2-year old. His natural ebullience as he runs, jumps and dances down the sidewalk make me and lots of passers-by smile. Every sidewalk grate, bicycle stand, standpipe and set of steps is an opportunity for some...

What To Look For In A Spouse

The dating scene in ancient Canaan was pretty brutal. There weren't a lot of Jewish girls to go around - even for an eligible bachelor like Yitzchak - and the Canaanite girls, though plentiful, were of loose morals and even looser theology. It is no wonder that the final challenge of our forefather...

Early Childhood Education

I'm not an expert in early childhood education, but I was a kid once and I have three growing children who are rapidly learning about themselves, their values and their world. Aside from a few songs and various bits of material that I must have re-learned many times since then, I don't remember very...

Selling The Dream

October 22, 1938[1] was one of those quiet days that changed the world as we know it. Chester Carlson, aspiring inventor and part-time patent clerk (which is what Einstein did to pay the bills also) made the first photocopied image on that day. He called his process electrography, which became...

Envy, Lust, Vainglory

"Rabbi Elazar ha-Kappar said: envy, lust and vain-glory take a person out of this world" Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) 4:21 The first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis read like a primer on how to tick off God. It is a litany of human disobedience and divine attempts to discipline....

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