Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel

85 Harrison Street, New Haven, CT 06515-1724 | P: 203.389.2108 |

Our banner is based on BEKI’s stained glass, designed in 2008 by Cynthia Beth Rubin. For information on this and other of Cynthia’s work, go to: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Artisan Fabrication by JC Glass of Branford, CT
Rabbi Tilsen

Motifs of Nonviolence in Shivhei HaBesht (Tales of the Ba’al Shem Tov)

Posted on July 15, 2014

Shivhei HaBesht is a collection of tales mostly about Israel Ba`al Shem Tov (known as “The Ba`al Shem Tov” or “The Besht,” 1700-1760), the founder of the modern Hasidic movement. In his preface to Shivhei HaBesht, the author of the manuscript, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezhirich (1710-1772), explains, The reader should realize that I wrote Continue Reading »

Domestic Violence in Classical Halakhic Sources

Posted on July 15, 2014

May a Husband Beat His Wife? Classical Halakhic Sources on Domestic Violence The question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" is used as a classic example of a question which cannot be properly answered "yes" or "no," since saying "yes" is an implicit admission that one had been beating his wife, and answering "no" can Continue Reading »

Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Israel

Posted on July 15, 2014

The officials shall go on addressing the troops and say, “Is there anyone afraid to strike others or too soft-hearted to take their blows? Let him go back to his home lest the hearts of others become like his.” Ibn Ezra’s reading of Deut. 20:8    I have been educated with Arab children on the Continue Reading »

Nonviolent Resistance of the Jews to Roman Occupation in Israel 26-41 C.E.

Posted on July 14, 2014

In his major work The King is Dead Samuel Eddy shows that the resistance of Near Eastern peoples to Hellenic imperialism “was justified almost universally in religious terms.” Eddy identifies the three main interlocking motives for religious resistance as “the effort to regain native rule as an end in itself,…as a means of ending social Continue Reading »

Rabbi’s Annual Report June 2013

Posted on July 13, 2014

Rabbi Tilsen’s Annual Report Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel 30 June 2013 – 22 Tamuz 5773 This summer marks the completion of my twentieth year (1993-present) as Rabbi of Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel. The Congregation’s previous longest-serving full-time rabbi was Rabbi Andrew Klein (at right), of blessed memory, who served from 1951 until his death in Continue Reading »

Planted in the House of the Lord

Posted on July 13, 2014

Following the bar mitzva observance of our son Tsvi in February 2006, I traveled with him and my father, Bob Tilsen, to Israel for ten days. My dad lives in Minnesota and Florida, so we see him only on holidays and during vacations. I really wanted us to be together, so that I could be Continue Reading »

Love Me to Death Panel

Posted on July 13, 2014

A Letter to Senator Lieberman Dear Senator Lieberman, I am writing today to ask your help in getting me appointed to a government death panel. During the debates before the enactment of Obamacare, several leading public figures, mostly Republican, including Sarah Palin, promised that once the law came into effect, life-and-death decisions would be made for Continue Reading »

Joint Aliya

Posted on July 13, 2014

Dear Rabbi, In some synagogues, couples are called up for aliyot [Torah blessing honors]. This is a lovely tradition. Why isn’t this allowed at BEKI? Signed, Questioning Couple Dear Couple, Numerous references in the law codes and in case history governing Torah reading practice indicate that only one person at a time may read the Continue Reading »

The Camel’s Neck

Posted on July 13, 2014

Many years ago I found myself in a feud with a person who accused me of all manner of conniving and deceitful schemes. Although the accusations sounded plausible, there was absolutely no truth to them. I like to think that I am as clever as anyone, and I suppose I am as bad as the Continue Reading »

Right & Wrong of Return

Posted on July 10, 2014

A seemingly intractable point of contention in Palestinian Arab – Israeli negotiations is the claim of a sacrosanct “right of return,” the right of any Palestinian Arab to settle in Israel. The claim is unrealizable because it defies the laws of physics and common sense. Here’s why. In the 1930s and 1940s, many Palestinian Arabs Continue Reading »