Updated: Jun 29, 2018

On May 4 ( this Friday) the Giro d’Italia launches in Jerusalem. It's the first time the Italian version of the Tour de France will start anywhere outside of Europe. It's a big deal.

But the decision to start the race in Israel wasn’t made by chance.  

While the cyclists navigate the streets, and all eyes are on Jerusalem, we can learn about an Italian cyclist who saved 800 Jews from the Nazis and risked his life , without any desire for reward or accolades.

We have all heard about Lance Armstrong but I had never heard of three-time Giro d’Italia winner and two-time Tour de France champion Gino Bartali. Thanks to Jerusalem we can all enjoy this short video of a true hero. He used his bicycle not just to win races , but to save 800 Jewish lives from the Nazis (with the help of some priests and singing nuns).

With gratitude to all who made it possible for Israel to be appreciated on the world stage this weekend...and may we continue to remember and learn. 

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Updated: May 11, 2018

May 5 - Parshat Emor - pp. 722 - 727

Five pages of Torah reading describe in great detail

rituals of offerings, both of animals and grains. Food

is made holy by dedicating it to God and to Kohanim.

What does the last paragraph on p. 727 (verse 22)

teach? Is there a connection between the first 5 pages

and the last verse?

Haftarat Emor - pp. 735 - 737

Ezekiel witnesses the destruction of the Temple by

Babylon. His intense hope is that the Judeans will be

free in the future and able to reestablish Temple

ritual. Restored ritual indicates political liberty and

social autonomy. The Kohanim will direct specific

details of worship. Which other duties will Kohanim

have (verse 24)? What does that convey about how

ancient Judeans viewed their religious leaders?

May 12 - Parshat Behar-Bechukotai - pp. 744 - 752

This reading bears 3 different tones. Pp. 744 - 745:

One function of the calendar is to ensure that

Israelites who are down on their luck and sell their

services to pay off debts are not abused by fellow

Israelites. Passover is a time to not take advantage of

fellow Israelites. Pp. 747 - 748: This section

describes grand divine blessings of Israelites who are

loyal to God. Pp. 749 – 752: Why does the last

section detail so many punishments and misfortunes?

Why can’t the description of punishment be as brief

as the blessings?

Haftarat Behar-Bechukotai - pp. 763 - 765

Rewards and punishments are described in the

parshah. This may be the link to the description of

guilt and sin of Israel. Note the last sentence of the

haftarah. Does it have anything to do with guilt and

sin? How?

May 19 - Parshat Bamidbar - pp. 774 - 778

The opening section details a census of the 12 tribes

encamped in a pattern. Page 778 talks about the tribe

of Levi. Why are there differences between the 12

tribes and the Levi tribe?

Haftarat Bamidbar - pp. 787 - 790

Hosea uses marital imagery to paint a picture of

Israel and its link with God. What is the tone of pp.

787 - 788 vis-a-vis the woman (Israel)? What is the

tone of the last 3 verses on p. 790? What is Hosea

trying to teach?

May 26 - Parshat Naso - pp. 796 – 805

You will see some of the most famous blessings in all

of Judaism on p. 804. What is the original context of

these words? How might you use these words? How

have these words changed over the course of

millennia? Or have they remained unchanged?

Haftarat Naso - pp. 813 - 815

In this Haftarah Samson is introduced to us because

he is a Nazir (dedicated in a special way) and the

Torah reading of the week also contains laws of

Nazir. What is the chief element of being Nazir?

Does this make sense to you? Does this fit with

ordinary Jewish life? (Hint - Think of Shabbat.)

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