Under the Kippah • Thoughts from the Jewish Chaplain

Welcome to the “Under the Kippah” blog, featuring posts from the Jewish chaplain to Williams College.

You can contact Rabbi Rachel with any questions or comments at [email protected]

Gratitude to Cantor Bob – and blog transitions

Cantor Bob Scherr served as Jewish chaplain to Williams College for fourteen years. During many of those years I knew him as one of my Wednesday morning hevruta (text-study-friendship) partners at the coffee shop on Spring Street. As a study partner he is wise, thoughtful, and kind. I know that he brought those same qualities in abundance to his

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Passover Thoughts

Shalom Chaverim: I hope that vacation has brought you rest and renewal, and that wherever you are, you are experiencing some “spring” in your break.  Much of the snow has melted in Williamstown, but no one will confuse us with Florida these days. On the threshold of Pesach, I’ve been thinking about the maror—the bitter herb—at the seder.  After

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A Purim Message

Chaverim: There is a lot to be afraid of in the world today.  It seems every day we pick up a newspaper (uh…at least those of us who still read paper papers) to see that people are under attack simply for being who they are.  Christians are rounded up as minority citizens, Muslim women are attacked because

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Reaching Out to Comfort

Shalom Chaverim: Events of the world have presented us another challenge this week. When three young Muslim people were murdered in Charlotte, NC, as our stomachs turned, we wondered , Is this yet another hate crime? While we don’t know the details of motivation, we know that the innocent lives that were lost were three

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On Being Jewish at Williams: Pluralism, Culture, and Community

Miranda Cooper '16

This is a guest blog post from Miranda Cooper ’16. Miranda is a board member of WCJA and has served as social chair since 2013. She is an English major and Jewish Studies concentrator at Williams.  When I was applying to colleges, I gave barely any thought to Jewish life on campus. This was not

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Our Hanuka Story

Hanuka has many meanings for many people.  For some, it’s all about the latkes; for others, it’s all about candles and songs from childhood.  We don’t usually tell children the details about this tense chapter in Jewish history, when the pro-Hellenists and the anti-Hellenists engaged in a civil war that threatened Jewish survival. We live in a world

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Shabbat in a Challenging Week

My Friends: Probably like you, my heart ached this week when I heard that senseless violence had struck innocent people at prayer.  I kept thinking that a tallit often feels to me like a uniform, that helps keep me in focus, that protects me from wandering attention.  The Torah tells us that the fringes protect us from wandering after false

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Guide to Yom Kippur 2014

How to make this the most meaningful Yom Kippur ever! NOTE:  KOL NIDRE SERVICES BEGIN AT 6:15 Why do we fast?  The Torah tells us, v’initem et nafshotechem—repress your instincts.  We often eat without thinking.  So we take one day and say, “You know what?  If I can go one day in my life without

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Shana Tova: A Good New Year

Chaverim (Friends): A High Holy Days midrash tells of a prince who runs away after an argument with his parents. After many years, scouts of the anguished king and queen find their son, now a peasant in a far corner of the kingdom.  He says that he has forgotten how to be a prince, and lacks

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Ferguson and Gaza

As you’re packing to head back to bucolic Williamstown for the start of classes next week, I thought this would be a good time to articulate what might on many of our minds, as our individual thoughts are about to merge with the Williams community. Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO, was painful in many

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