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

Rabbi Neil’s Weekly Sermons

Appreciating the Gifts of Passover (Passover 04-20-19)

Appreciating the Gifts of Passover I find that as times change, the Seder and its rituals mean something different to me each year. A few years ago, I gravitated towards a Haggadah called, “A Night to Remember.” It made me feel as if the Exodus was being replayed in my lifetime, accentuating stories of Jews escaping to the “Promised Land”

Foundational Intentions – MHJC’s 50th Anniversary (Parshat Tazria 04/06/19)

Foundational Intentions How much do thoughts and intentions matter? Can kind thoughts and love-filled emotions affect and alter our physical world? This week’s parsha seems to think so. Our Parsha begins with a discussion of conception, purity laws, and the rite of Brit Milah, circumcision (Leviticus 12: 2-3): “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a woman conceives and

The Torah of Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix (Shemini Day 03/30/19)

The Torah of Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix Our Torah reading contains one of the most infamous stories in the Torah, the tragic deaths of Nadav and Avihu. As always, the question is, what does this story have to teach us today? The Parsha starts off upbeat: the Tabernacle in the desert was just inaugurated and the whole nation is ecstatic.

Comparative Religion 101: Red Cows (Parshat Parah – 3/22/19)

Comparative Religion 101: Red Cows If you have children who are 20 years old or younger, chances are you’re a Rick Riordan fan. My kids got me reading the Percy Jackson series, and since then we’ve experienced a lot of adventure, laughed a lot, and learned a lot about Greek mythology. Recently I was taken aback when I discovered that

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.