Carol Towarnicky

Carol Towarnicky

Carol Towarnicky is a freelance writer in Philadelphia who recently retired after 31 years as an editorial writer and columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News. She is a founding member and former president of Mishkan Shalom, an activist Reconstructionist synagogue with a mission to integrate prayer, study and action for social justice. In a regular column she continues to write for the Daily News called "Common Good," she tries to "pray with the news," to apply progressive religious values to current events. Carol can be reached at towarnicky@aol.com.

Vayishlach

In Parashat Vayishlach, Jacob makes plans to return to the land he had fled 20 years before. Assuming that his twin brother Esau still wants revenge for being defrauded of their father’s blessing, Jacob devises several contingency plans. Yet, when the two brothers finally meet, Esau runs to embrace him. Jacob declares, “When I see your face, it is like seeing the face of God.”1

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Bechukotai

Parshat Bechukotai is one of the Torah portions that makes me cringe. Like chapter 28 of the book of Dvarim, it promises abundant blessings to those who obey God’s commandments and ghastly disasters for those who do not. So when bad things happen to good people, as they always do, some good people assume that …Read More

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Metzora

As the title suggests, this week’s parshah deals with the care and treatment of metzoraim—lepers—as well as people with other physical afflictions and diseases. The text gives instructions for purification so that individuals who leave the community because of illness and impurity may re-enter safely. Not surprisingly, fresh water is essential to the process:  “He …Read More

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Pekudei

In this week’s parshah, Pekudei, Moses finished the work of setting up the mishkan, the movable sanctuary in the desert. The mishkan was designed to be the central structure of relationship between God and God’s people. It was also the center of the human community, the location of all religious activity and the site where …Read More

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Mishpatim

As the title suggests, this week’s parshah consists almost entirely of mishpatim—laws—about everyday living. Directed to a people who have traveled only a short distance in time and space from slavery, the mishpatim are anything but mundane legalisms—they are instructions for building a just society. One of the most profound directives is the incredible command, …Read More

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Shmot

Shmot begins with two stunning acts of civil disobedience in which five righteous women help birth a liberation movement.[1] Many millennia later, righteous women in Burma are leading a nonviolent resistance movement in a society only marginally less repressive than ancient Egypt.[2] Shifrah and Puah were midwives who “feared God”[3] and so did not follow …Read More

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Lech Lecha

In Parshat Lech Lecha, Abram and Sarai, the first Jews, “go forth” from their old lives into a relationship with the one God, and the Jewish story begins. Embedded within this story is a short interlude, the tale of Hagar, whose very name (ha-ger) means “the stranger,” the “outsider.” Both Hagar’s encounters with God and …Read More

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Vayishlach

In Parshat Vayishlach, Jacob makes plans to return to the land he had fled 20 years before. Assuming that his twin brother Esau still wants revenge for being defrauded of their father’s blessing, Jacob devises several contingency plans. Yet, when the two brothers finally meet, Esau runs to embrace him. Jacob declares, “When I see …Read More

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