Shabbat Table

Shabbat Parshat Bo - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we recount how Moses made sure the Children of Israel were able to take what they might need when they escaped Egypt and consider how to apply that same wisdom to preparing for life after the pandemic. We must remember the lessons we are learning about communication, loneliness, public health, and the importance of community. We commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and we discuss what it means for the American Jewish community that so many Jews will be serving at the highest levels of the Biden administration.
Shabbat Parshat Vaera - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we reflect on how the Nile River helped shape Moses into a leader who understood the importance of every interaction with the world around him. We remember Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon 18 years after the launch of the doomed space shuttle Columbia. And we provide some talking points and resources for a discussion about far-right extremism in America.
Shabbat Parshat Shmot - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we reflect on the quintessentially Jewish story of the biblical midwives Shifra and Puah and how it can inspire us to be agents of hope as we close the door on 2020 and embark on a new year. We mourn the loss of Joan Micklin Silver, the Jewish-American filmmaker behind Jewish classics such as “Crossing Delancey” and “Hester Street.” We then open a discussion about rebuilding American democracy after the terrifying siege at the U.S. Capitol this week.
Shabbat Parshat Vayigash - Shabbat Table
In this week's AJC’s Shabbat Table, we read the climactic confrontation between Joseph and his brother Judah through the lens of repentance as defined by Maimonides. We also celebrate the 160th birthday of Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah and “mother of thousands” who created the Youth Aliyah system that rescued countless European Jewish children from the Nazis, resettling them in Youth Villages in Palestine. And we provide some discussion prompts about the normalization agreement between Israel and Morocco, two countries that developed quiet but warm relations in recent decades, but only established more official diplomatic ties after the UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords.
Shabbat Parshat Miketz - Shabbat Table
In this week’s Shabbat Table, we reflect on how Joseph’s advice to Pharaoh to sustain Egypt during a famine with the surplus set aside in years of plenty suggests how we can endure challenges. Perhaps we can draw on reserves of joy and memories of togetherness to get through the final clutches of the global pandemic and the dark winter ahead. We also remember the ouster of Jews from Spain – one of many expulsions of Jews from European countries during the Middle Ages, but the most notorious as it was not fully rescinded until 1968. And we provide some discussion prompts about Belgium’s ban on kosher slaughter, which was upheld this week by the European Union’s highest court, despite the long history of similar bans linked to antisemitism.
Shabbat Hanukkah - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week’s Shabbat Table, we consider how the coincidental juxtaposition of Hanukkah and the Biblical story of Joseph forces us to think in a nuanced fashion about the Jewish relationship with the external cultures in which we live. We invite readers to discuss the troubling column in The New York Times titled “Saying Goodbye to Hanukkah,” and flood social media with more positive messages about the holiday. We also mark two moments in history when Jewish vigilance and self-advocacy paid off: the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann and the reversal of Ulysses S. Grant's injustice against the Jews during the Civil War, which ended up strengthening Jewish standing in America.
Shabbat Parshat Vayishlach - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we reflect once again on the story of Jacob and Esau. But this time we focus on Jacob’s struggle with his demons and the journey toward self-acceptance that’s needed for him to have a healthy relationship with his brother. We revisit two moments in history when American Jews fought on behalf of their fellow Jews abroad – unsuccessfully during the Holocaust and triumphantly a half century later during the movement to free Soviet Jewry. We then open a discussion about the lessons Jewish activists can take from these two movements and what should be on our agenda next.
Shabbat Parshat Toldot - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we savor red lentil soup and reflect on the story of Jacob and Esau. The Torah reminds us that Esau’s simple desire for a bowl of soup robbed him of his birthright forever, demonstrating how one must balance living in the moment with long-term consequences. We also provide some tools for discussing proposed legislation in Israel that would require the government to consult world Jewish leaders on issues affecting Diaspora Jewry. Lastly, we mark the birthday of Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann and review his central role in achieving statehood for Israel, which culminated in him becoming the new State's first President in 1948. And, we revisit the 1956 exile of Jews from Egypt shortly after Israel’s failed operation to overthrow the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sarah - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we reflect on how the journey of Abraham reminds us that our goals may not be fully achieved in our lifetimes, but we must still work toward them to assure progress will continue after we are gone. We then pay tribute to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who saw no contradiction between Zionism and American patriotism and we learn how thousands of Ethiopian Jews first landed in Israel and became an integral part of Israeli society. Lastly, we encourage families to remember the legacy of Rabbi Lord Dr. Jonathan Sacks, the beloved former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain who passed away on Shabbat last week.

Shabbat Parshat Vayera - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we reflect on how Abraham, an obedient servant of God who spoke up when he saw injustice in God’s plans, models advocacy. As we redouble our efforts to advocate with passion for the Jewish people, Israel, and justice for all, Abraham offers an example of righteous resolve and a diplomatic pursuit of justice. We remember two dark moments in Jewish history: the Nazi pogroms against Jews in Germany, Austria and Sudetenland known as Kristallnacht; and UN Resolution 3379 that declared Zionism to be racism. Following a bitter presidential election, we reach into the AJC Archive for some inspiration and comfort. And we provide some discussion prompts for talking about the meaning of citizenship in a deeply divided country.
Shabbat Parshat Lech Lecha - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we ponder some of the most powerful verses in the Torah where God tells Abraham to leave his birthplace and become the father of a great nation. What can we learn from Abraham’s lonely and courageous journey? Then we pay tribute to a poet and a peacemaker. 137 years ago, Jewish poet Emma Lazarus composed “The New Colossus,” the verse inscribed on the Statute of Liberty that welcomed millions of immigrants seeking refuge in America. Then we recall the tragic circumstances behind the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, one of the architects of the controversial Oslo Accords, who was murdered 25 years ago this week. Lastly, we provide some talking points for discussing the rise of antisemitism in America.
Shabbat Parshat Noach - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we discuss what lessons we can apply in 2020 from the Biblical story of Noah and the flood. We are, in many ways, different people than we were back in February before the pandemic. Can we, like Noah, accept that this experience has changed us and constructively consider what changes should be permanent and which should be overcome? We also provide some resources for discussing fault lines in the American Jewish community regarding politics and connection to Israel. Finally, we recall the day Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian Prime Minister Anwar el-Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize for reaching the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab nation and the day in 1939 when the Dominican Republic stepped up to accept Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany when no other nation would.
Shabbat Parshat Breishit - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we discuss the two creation stories in the Book of Genesis and what they can teach us about valuing different perspectives. We also provide some resources for discussing Holocaust denial in light of this week’s decisions by Facebook and Twitter to ban content that denies or distorts the systemic murder of six million Jews during World War II. In addition, we share the story of how one man revived the Hebrew language as a spoken mother tongue and the historic moment when the first ordained woman rabbi became the first woman ever to offer the opening prayer before the U.S. House of Representatives.
Shabbat Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we ponder the significance of praying for rain on the holiday of Shemini Atzeret which falls out this Shabbat. Could the prayer for rain also serve as a symbolic call for equality and justice? We also provide some resources for discussing the unrest in Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Haredi Jewish populations who now face additional regulations to control an alarming spike in Covid cases. And lastly, we go back in time to meet Mr. Biggott, the main character in a series of cartoons created by AJC in the 1930s to combat anti-immigrant sentiment.
Shabbat Sukkot - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we discuss the deeper meaning of decorating a sukkah for the holiday of Sukkot and share the amazing history of Raoul Wallenberg, a Righteous Gentile who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews in the Holocaust. We also provide some tools for discussing politicians' decisions regarding who they will or will not associate with and who they will or will not disavow, and much more. Chag sameach!
Shabbat Shuva - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we discuss the powerful link between the Jewish concept of repentance and helping humankind make it through hard times, we share the amazing story of a group of brave young men in British Mandatory Palestine who blew the Shofar at the Kotel at the end of Yom Kippur each year, and, in memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we provide some tools for discussing different methods of making societal change.
Shabbat Rosh Hashanah 5781 - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we discuss what we can learn from Abraham's trials in the Torah readings for Rosh Hashanah, the fast day that commemorates the assassination of the ancient Jewish leader Gedaliah, how to talk to your kids about taking stock of the year that was, and much more.
Shabbat Parshat Netzavim Vayelech - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we discuss our responsibility to transmit Jewish peoplehood to generations to come, the anniversary of the infamous Dreyfus Affair, the beautiful music of Israeli singer Idan Raichel, how to translate our idealism about Black-Jewish relations into action, and much more.
Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we discuss the commandment in the Torah reading to sacrifice the first fruits of a harvest, the 75th anniversary of Bess Myerson becoming the first (and only) Jewish Miss America, how to talk to your kids about Black-Jewish relations, and much more.
Shabbat Parshat Ki Teitzei - AJC Shabbat Table
In this week's Shabbat Table, we discuss the biblical commandment to remember Amalek, the 123rd anniversary of the First Zionist Congress, how to talk to your kids about being an informed and engaged American Jewish voter, and much more.