In the 1890s, a papyrus was discovered in the garbage dump of Oxyrhynchus, an ancient city southwest of Cairo. Preserved by encroaching sand dunes, the dump contained a treasure trove of papyrus fragments, mainly written in Latin and Greek. One of the documents is particularly exciting for archaeologists and thespians. It is part of a lost five-act play based on the biblical Book of Exodus. The play was written in the form of a Greek tragedy, by Ezekiel, a Jewish dramatist from Alexandria, Egypt, in the 100s BCE. The fragment found at Oxyrhynchus includes a speech by Moses. He is declaiming upon the moment he was discovered as a baby in the bulrushes.

Historians had previously known of Ezekiel’s plays only from quotations by later Christian writers. For instance, theologian Eusebius quotes it in the 300s CE, but that is 500 years (or so) after the play was thought to have been written. Not very good source material. Now that the text itself has been found, there is a whole new treasure trove of literary analysis for historians who undoubtedly are already arguing over each line’s precise interpretation. Oh, I almost did not mention the coolest part. The text was transcribed by online crowd sourcing, through the Ancient Lives project!

Congregation Emunath Israel on West Twenty-third Street in New York, New York; 1944. x

On April 30th, 1944 the Synagogue Council of America called on all Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox synagogues in the United States to hold services when the invasion of Europe by the United States and the United Kingdom began.  On June 4th, 1944, when D-Day began, Jewish synagogues around the United States were open for 24 hours to allow people to pray for the success of the invasion and liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.

One of the more important aspects of Jewish tradition and practice is that time is seen as a spiral.
Not as a circle, spinning endlessly in the same groove and returning always to the same sacred place in the past, as some traditional societies see time.
Not as a straight line, marching always forward to triumph or oblivion, making yesterday outdated and tomorrow crucial, as modernity sees time.
But as a spiral, in which we are always drawing on the past in order to move into the future.
In the world of thought, this spiral approach is encoded into the process and practice of midrash, through which an ancient text is turned in unexpected directions to cast new light upon the present and the future.
—  Arthur Waskow
The Other Gospels

by Saṃsāran

“For there exists a great and boundless aeon, whose extent no generation of angels could see, in which is the great invisible Spirit, which no eye of an angel has ever seen, no thought of the heart has ever comprehended, and it was never called by any name.” 

— The Gnostic Gospel of Judas (ca 120 CE)

The Gospels which we now call gnostic were circulated in the Christian world in the years after Jesus was crucified and Paul began his ministry to the Greco-Roman world. Most were written in Greek and then translated into other languages such as Latin and Coptic. There were over thirty such Gospels including the four we know today as part of the New Testament.

The writers of the gnostic texts did not call themselves gnostics. They were simply Christians who had also been exposed to Greek and Roman philosophy and literature. In 180 CE in a bid to organize the Church which had grown a great deal since Paul’s day a Bishop named Irenaeus went through these gospels and discarded all but four. He particularly disliked the Gnostic gospels because they stressed the direct knowledge of God rather than receiving the message through priests and bishops something he believed undermined the authority of the Bishops.

These other Gospels including the gospel of Mary, the gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas were declared heretical and ordered destroyed. Some few were buried by monks to avoid the flames and have been discovered in the caves of the Egyptian desert. What we know for certain is that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not write the gospels attributed to them. They too were anonymous hand-copied documents circulated through the early church.

The entire collection is in our sangha library:   The Nag Hammadi Texts

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things

— The Tao Te Ching

It’s funny how mitzvos and more machmir levels of observance can started out feeling so difficult, but with time can become such second nature.

When I first started keeping Shabbos a little over 5 years ago, every conflict that came up was so hard. I had planned to go to a certain conference before I became shomer shabbos, and I ended up going and just trying to more or less keep Shabbos as much as I could. By the next year, when the same conference rolled around again, it wasn’t even a question that I wouldn’t go (actually, the Shabbos of that first conference was the last time I ever willingly broke Shabbos). When I first started telling people I couldn’t do things on Shabbos, I felt so self-conscious and bad and hesitant about it. Now, it’s just like - I unapologetically keep Shabbos. You’re going to have to deal with it.

Similarly, there was a period of time when I didn’t yet have a kosher kitchen but did not eat in non-kosher restaurants and only ate foods made from kosher-certified ingredients. Before I had a chance to tell my family about it, my sister sent me a care package of my favorite homemade cookies.  I ended up caving and eating them. Nowadays my family would never make the mistake of sending me something not kosher, but in situations where it does come up, there’s no question - if it’s not kosher, I’m not eating it. The same thing happened with cholov yisroel - I dithered about it for ages, there was always a good reason why now wasn’t the right time to take it on - but now I just don’t eat cholov stam, plain and simple. Yeah, it would be nice to be able to pick up a chocolate bar at the drug store near work, but it’s just not an option.

And the first few summers after I took on tznius, I would always start out the summer intending to wear tights the whole summer long, but there would come one especially hot day when suddenly even the thinnest layer of fabric was just too much and off they went, usually for the rest of summer. Now, it doesn’t matter how hot it is. I’m not going out without tights. It’s not even a struggle about whether to do it - tights are just a thing that I wear every day and that’s that. I don’t even think about it.
Sanders is first Jewish American to win a presidential primary
Sanders made history with his New Hampshire primary win on Tuesday night, also becoming the first non-Christian to win a state in a presidential primary
By Ben Jacobs

Regardless of your personal politics, this is an amazing first in American Jewish History.  Kol hakavod Senator Sanders!

Once upon a time in the 1980s, when I was a twenty-year-old graduate student full of arrogance and attitude, I worked in the Hebrew books and manuscripts division of the Judaica Department at Sotheby’s New York. My boss was the “Judaica expert,” the late, great Jay Weinstein, a man truly deserving of his title, which he bore with immense modesty and humour. My own title was also “expert” but, by way of contrast, it only exacerbated my supercilious arrogance when I found myself called to the front desk to meet a client… The client I was about to meet on the day I am describing had called a week before to tell me that he was in possession of “a very old Hebrew book.” I was not looking forward to the encounter, since auction experts know very well that the hoi polloi consider anything more than ten years old to be ancient and hence of untold value. Disabusing clients of this notion as it applies to their particular treasure is an often painful but necessary task…
Mr. X, I was dismayed to find, embodied all my worst fears. Stooped, elderly, still in his coat, and eager — very eager. Authoritative and disdainful though I made myself, he was simply unimpressed by my “impressiveness.” With total focus and trembling hands, he reached into a plastic shopping bag and produced, wrapped in newspaper older than I was, his “treasure” — a book of Psalms, printed in Warsaw in 1920. I couldn’t believe this monumental waste of my precious time — a brand new book of Psalms would be worth more than this! I was exasperated by this schlepper, and I wanted to tell him so. I wanted to show him the real treasures — gold, silver, ancient, and precious illuminated manuscripts — that had been entrusted into my “expert” care. I wanted to show him the door as I told him with authoritative disdain, “That book is worth whatever you paid for it!”
But at that moment, like the angel in the legend who moves Moses’ hand toward the glowing coal rather than the glittering crown, thus saving his life, some kindly spirit moved my tongue. And instead of that anticipated send-off, I faltered, “Um, what did you pay for this?” The old man drew himself up to his full 5 feet, 2 inches. “For this, I paid seven days’ Auschwitz bread,” he replied with a dignity that totally deflated my pose. It seems that the Nazis had caught him with the little Psalm book, and as a penalty for possessing it, imprisoned him without food — only water to drink — for an entire week. Like Moses touching the coal to his lips, I was struck dumb. “This,” I stammered, “is too valuable for us to sell.” And I stumbled out of the room, a changed young man, with a new appreciation of what is meant by the words precious, valuable, and treasured.
The rabbis of Conservative Judaism pass a resolution supporting transgender rights - The Washington Post

“The rabbis’ resolution begins by stating, “Our Torah asserts that all humanity is created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s Divine Image.” It discusses historical evidence of “non-binary gender expression” in Jewish texts dating back to the third-century Mishnah, and points out current-day discrimination against transgender Americans in employment, medical care and voting rights.”

Yashar Koach, Mazal Tov!!!!