Last month a professor at the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world, discovered in the archives, unnoticed and unlabeled, the oldest complete Torah scroll in the world. It was written 800 years ago, sometime in the late 12th or early 13th century. You can see a picture of this remarkable scroll online -- written on beautiful soft sheep leather, a remnant of the ancient and distinguished Jewish community of Italy.
“Who are you to be leading this community? You’ve done a terrible job so far! Things were so much better before. We need new leadership!”
The first person to mention the city of Prague in writing was a Jew, Avraham ben Ya’akov – a Spanish merchant better known by his Arabic name, Ibrahim ibn Ya’qub. In the year 965 he traveled from Tortosa, in eastern Spain, to the cities of central Europe, visiting what is now France, Germany and Bohemia. “The city of Prague,” he reported in his diary, “is built of stone and limestone, and trade makes it the richest of all.” The Jews of Prague, he noted, were active in commerce, and lived near the market square.
Are you like me? Has been getting into the car the last two weeks been terrible? You have not had your coffee yet, you turn on the ignition, fasten your seat belt -- lo and behold its the NPR pledge drive. Ugh, every morning during Morning Edition and each afternoon during All Things Consider, they even interrupt Car Talk! Two weeks of pure torture!
So, which of the endless amounts of guilt, cajoling, reward or needling gets you?
“It started to rain just as the funeral was beginning. The ushers held open wide golf umbrellas. For the family, the rain didn’t matter. God was crying with us, on us. We pushed the simple pine casket through the gray drizzle, slowly moving it on a roller bed over the wet earth. The ushers lowered the casket….We read Psalm 23 together. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” I spoke about Alyssa, how easy it was for her to love. Her big heart. Her willingness to forgive.
“On the third day, as morning dawned, there was thunder, and lightning, and a dense cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud blast of the horn.
And all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses led the people out of the camp toward God and they took their places at the food of the mountain.” (Exodus 19:16-17)