You're the Commentator


Monday, December 20, 2010


When the family of Yaakov first came to Egypt, they were greeted warmly by the Par'o - the ruler.  In fact, they were given choice grazing land for their animals and treated in some ways better than the native Egyptians at the time.

They were lucky enough to thrive in this new country - their numbers increased and the wealth also.  In fact, after some 400 years they were so numerous and powerful that the Par'o at the time began to get nervous.  He began to see them as a threat.

  • Why do you think he felt that way?

When a new family moves into a community, what usually happens?  Does it matter who the new people are?  Who the established residents are?

  • Were you ever the 'new kid' in a school?  
  • What was it like?  
  • Were there a lot of other Jewish kids in the school?  
  • Did that make any difference to you?
  • How do you act when a 'new kid' moves in to your neighborhood?  Why?

Thursday, December 16, 2010


This week's Torah portion tells about the move of the family of Yaakov - the family that would become the Jewish people in the future - from Canaan to Egypt.  Quite a big change for them, and probably for the Egyptians as well.

There is a big change in the population on Long Island - more and more people from different countries and backgrounds are living here, and bringing their customs and traditions to this part of the country.  In particular, there is a growth in the Asian population, as you can see from this flyer about a celebration held at Stony Brook University:  Asian/American Cultural Festival of Long Island.
There is also a growth in the Latino population, as you can see in this publicity for an art festival highlighting Latino culture:  Projecting Art.

Imagine that you are part of the family of Yaakov coming to live in Goshen.  What would you do to honor your culture?  Share your ideas here, please.

Monday, December 13, 2010


This is the final weekly portion of the book of Breisheet, the first of the five books of the Torah.  In it we reach the point in the story in which the entire family of the descendants of Yaakov (who is also known as Yisrael) have come to live in the land of Egypt, in the neighborhood of Goshen.

Why do you think they all stayed in the same neighborhood and didn't move in with the rest of the Egyptians who lived in other places in the country?

  • When you, or your parents, or your grandparents, or your great-grandparents came to live in the United States, did they expect to stay forever or did they plan to return to their country of birth?
  • Why did they come to the United States?
  • Once here, did they stay separate from other groups of people?  
  • Did they continue to speak the language of their former country, or did they immediately begin to speak English?  
  • Did they think of themselves as "Jews", as "Americans", or did they have some other identity?
  • How is the story of the family of Yaakov in Egypt the same as the story of your family in the United States?  How is it different?