From the Rabbi2017-07-02T15:26:35+00:00

Rabbi Neil’s Weekly Sermons

How Do We Sustain Our Jewish Identity? (Terumah – 02/09/19)

How Do We Sustain Our Jewish Identity? As we approach Purim, the story of Esther gnaws at me and disturbs my peace of mind. When I was in Yeshivah, I learned an interpretation of the story that I now realize was shaped by the agenda of the rabbis: Mordechai was a great pious man and sage. Esther was a profoundly

Is This God’s Will (Mishpatim – 02/02/19)

Is This God's Will? At the foot of Mount Sinai, the Jewish People, only recently freed from slavery, meet their Creator, face to face. The mountain is engulfed in flames and the earth shakes from the magnitude of the revelation of God’s omnipotence. The people see rockets of fire, loud blasts of the shofar horn and hosts of angels, as they are

Arguably One of the Worst Ideas in Human History (Yitro – 01/26/19)

Arguably One of the Worst Ideas in Human History The Ten Commandments brings to mind many disparate things: Charlton Heston, Mel Brooks, tablets over an Ark, and the founding laws for a few religions. In Jewish tradition, they’re actually called “The Aseret HaDibrot” the Ten Principles or Statements, as we have a belief that there are actually 613 Mitzvot (commandments).

Sweet Harmony (Beshalach – 01/19/19)

Sweet Harmony I love attending concerts, and my favorite part of a concert is when all the attendees start singing together. When a hundred, a thousand or fifty thousand people start singing together in harmony, there’s so much positive energy in the air, that the song becomes a surreal experience of pure joy. This past Shabbat we marked an ancient

Rabbi Neil’s Special Messages

June 29, 2017

Two events centering around Israel took place this week for which we need to take notice.


On Saturday at the Chicago “Dyke March,” Jewish women holding a rainbow flag embossed with the Star of David were told that they had to leave the parade because it made some people uncomfortable, some feel unsafe, and it made others repulsed by reminding them of “Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.”

See an opinion article about it in The New York Times.

Along with many other Jewish organizations, Manetto Hill Jewish Center finds the behavior of the Chicago Dyke March organizers deplorable. The Star of David is the symbol for the State of Israel because for generations it was representative of our ethnicity. Jews marching in this gay pride parade were sharing their pride in their ethnicity as well as sexual orientation. In a country that allows freedom of religion and speech, we denounce the actions of the leaders, and hope they will change their policy going forward.

Israel, the Kotel and the Religious Establishment

On Sunday, the Israeli parliament reneged on its promise to create a designated area near the Kotel for egalitarian prayer.

The following is from an email I received from the Worldwide Conservative Movement:

“Following Sunday’s announcement that the Israeli government had frozen a plan to create an egalitarian prayer section of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the Conservative/Masorti movement, as represented by the Rabbinical Assembly, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, MERCAZ Olami, Masorti Olami and the Masorti Movement in Israel, issued the following statement:

In January 2016 the government of Israel signed an agreement to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall. Only 17 months later, the very same government voted to suspend that compromise plan. The Conservative/Masorti movement, speaking as a whole, deplores this action, yet another failure to uphold an agreement reached after years of negotiations.

Simultaneous to the government’s reneging on the Kotel agreement, a new conversion bill is moving toward granting official authority for conversion in Israel to the Rabbanut (Chief Rabbinate), thus risking placing in its hands power over the Law of Return, as well. Such action always has been viewed as unwise and counter to both Zionist and democratic principles and would be disastrous for world Jewry for generations to come.

Because we love Israel and see the rising influence of an intolerant religious establishment as an existential threat to its future and to the unity of the Jewish people we will not rest until these decisions not only are overturned, but also [until] Israel fulfills the promise of its Zionist origins and founding declaration to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex” and to “guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”

Masorti Olami
Rabbinical Assembly
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Masorti Movement in Israel

Although we heartily support the growth of the State of Israel and recognize its importance for Jews everywhere, freedom of religion is not a building block of the State of Israel. Only Orthodox Judaism is recognized as legitimate. We at Manetto Hill Jewish Center believe all Jews need to be treated with legitimacy, therefore, when you speak to Israeli officials or have the ability to support lobbyists promoting religious pluralism in Israel, please do so.

If you are moved to action based upon these issues, contact our politicians, contact Israeli politicians, share your ideas on social media and join our Israeli and Jewish Affairs Committee.