Old News – Proof to the Joke that a Jew on a Tropical Island Would Build Two Synagogues

There’s an old joke in Judaism about the way Jews are never quite happy with their local congregations. I wasn’t dating my future wife long before I heard it for the first time, probably from my father-in-law. It goes something like this:

A man is rescued from a desert island after 20 years. The news media, amazed at this feat of survival, ask him to show them his home.
“How did you survive? How did you keep sane?” they ask him, as he shows them around the small island.
“I had my faith. My faith as a Jew kept me strong. Come.” He leads them to a small glen, where stands an opulent temple, made entirely from palm fronds, coconut shells and woven grass. The news cameras take pictures of everything — even a torah made from banana leaves and written in octopus ink. “This took me five years to complete.”
“Amazing! And what did you do for the next fifteen years?”
“Come with me.” He leads them around to the far side of the island. There, in a shady grove, is an even more beautiful temple. “This one took me twelve years to complete!”
“But sir” asks the reporter, “Why did you build two temples?”
“This is the temple I attend. That other place? Hah! I wouldn’t set foot in that other temple if you PAID me!”

Source: Wikipedia, “Jewish Humour

I can’t say I believed it. Surely, it must be an exaggeration! And yet, while visiting Bermuda I stumbled on this article about the Jewish community there. And, it’s true. An island that had only 110 Jews had to have two congregations. And the only reason they are back to one now is that they deported one of the rabbis. (He broke a local labor law. Harsh punishment.)

While today Bermuda has only one congregation serving approximately 110 affiliated Jews, in the not so distant past there were two congregations, Bourne said. The other congregation, to which he belonged, broke away both because of personality differences and a dispute over using more Hebrew in the service.

When the split came, the breakaway congregation decided not to use more Hebrew even though that supposedly was what the dispute was about, Bourne said. Meanwhile, the original congregation decided maybe incorporating more Hebrew into the service was a good idea after all.

Source: “Bermuda scion links with Zion” (1999-11-05)

Now, if anyone can cite a news story to prove the very old joke about two rabbis debating a point and asking God to butt out of their argument, I think we’re in trouble…

Up next: As if you should ever trust me when I saw what’s coming next…

Nahor, Abraham’s Brother

Some of my favorite things about the Torah are the snippets of legends that the early Jews knew so well that they didn’t even need to write down. Passing references and later commentary are the only ways that we know figures like Enoch and Nimrod. Genesis 34 marks the transition between Abraham’s and Isaac’s stories, ironically with a sidebar where neither are protagonists. More on that later, but this scene also marks the second mention of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Nahor may not be a prominent biblical figure, but this verse in Genesis 24 caught my attention:

Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor.

Genesis 24:10

How can you not want to learn more about a man who is the brother of a patriarch and has a town named after him? More after the break. Continue reading Nahor, Abraham’s Brother

Found Link – Pondering Scripture

Rebekah and Abraham’s Servant at the well. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

I admit it: I’m stuck on Genesis 24. It’s such a beautiful, complex chapter. In sixty-seven verses, it say so much and has so may allusions to other stories that I struggle to capture it all. This is the story of Abraham’s servant’s search for a wife for Isaac, a job that both seems incredibly important (his family will inherit Israel) and also unimportant. After all, neither Abraham nor Isaac could be bothered to do the mate-searching for themselves. Between that and fact-checking my Torah family tree, I’m just behind!

As I finish writing some actual content, here’s a blog that has some: Pondering Scripture by Justin Honse. The author is slowly working his way through the bible, but is still in Genesis after several years of writing. That sounds very familiar…

Two that I liked about Genesis 24:

Check out Justin’s blog.

Up next: Nahor, brother of Abraham