The New Synagogue of Long Island
The Synagogue for Spiritual Judaism

Ask the Rabbi


Question: “What is the Torah?”


Answer: Torah is a Hebrew word meaning “to instruct.” The Torah refers to the first five books of Moses in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The Torah was written approximately 1200 BCE. Traditionally, the Torah is handwritten on a scroll by a “sofer” (scribe). This type of document is called a “Sefer Torah.” A modern printing of the Torah in book form is called a “Chumash” (related to the Hebrew word for the number 5 ).


Question: “What is the Jewish Bible / TaNaKh?”

Answer: The Jewish Bible (also called the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh) is another term for what Christians call the Old Testament portion of the Bible. More specifically, a 1917 English version of the Old Testament was called the Jewish Bible and was prepared by the Jewish Publication Society of America.  One distinctive feature of the Jewish Bible is that it divides the Old Testament into its traditional Hebrew sections. The three sections include the Torah (The Five Books of Moses), the Neviim (The Prophets), and the Ketuvim (The Writings), thus the acronym Ta Na Kh.


Question: “What is the Talmud?”

Answer: The Talmud is the oral law.  The word “Talmud” is a Hebrew word meaning “learning, instruction.” The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism and consists primarily of discussions and commentary on Jewish history, law (especially its practical application to life), customs and culture. The Talmud consists of six sections.


Question: “What is Kaballah?”


Answer:  Kaballah is a part of Jewish tradition that deals with the essence of G-d, often referred to as “Jewish mysticism.”  The word Kaballah comes from the Hebrew word likrah, which means “to receive.”  Everything in Kabbalah is meant as an instruction in life to bring us closer to G-d.  The goal of Kabbalah is inspired action.  Kabbalah has the potential to heal the rift between the cold outer world we observe and the warm, inner world of the observer.


Question: “What are the different types of Judaism?”


Answer:  The Jewish community tends to be broken down into movements: the Orthodox, the Reform, and the Conservative. The Orthodox Movement follows Halacha (Jewish Law) as closely as literally possible with no exceptions.  The Reform Movement was an answer to the Orthodox. The Reform Movement came about when members of these Jewish institutions in Europe wanted to try and adapt their Judaism more to the cultures in which they resided.  The Conservative Movement exists in between the Reform and the Orthodox, wishing to conserve as much of the Orthodox traditions as they found reasonable while wanting to make changes which weren’t as extreme as the Reform Movement. 


Question: “What is The New Synagogue of Long Island?”


Answer:  The New Synagogue of Long Island, an “authentic” synagogue for spiritual Judaism, is a unique congregation with a liberal ideology.  We embrace diversity of all kinds and welcome interfaith couples and families.  Our non-traditional approach is embodied in everything we do.  We follow a liberal spiritual path that welcomes all people who seek to attune to the presence of G-d in their lives as the source of health, abundance, joy, love and wholeness.


Rabbi Stuart Paris, HaKohen

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Torah Completion and Celebration

Sunday, May 15, 2016

7 Iyar, 5776

Rabbi Stuart Paris and Rabbi Gedaliah Druin

Rabbi Gedaliah Druin completing the last letter of the Torah