September 2018

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 11:45am -- Rabbi Ed Feinstein

This is a story I tell to children. But it really isn’t for them. It’s for all of us who are tired of the phone ringing, the people who ask for just a little time, the family whose demands never end.  Did you ever wish they would all go away and leave you alone? And if they did, how long before you’d miss them? How long before you would discover that the greatest joy in life is knowing that you’re needed and you’re loved?

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Wed, 09/26/2018 - 11:43am -- Rabbi Ed Feinstein

He sat before me, a typical petulant 13-year old. It was a week or so before his Bar Mitzvah and he had announced to his family at dinner last night that he didn’t believe in God and didn’t want to have a Bar Mitzvah. They didn’t know what to do. Cancel the simcha? The invitations already went out, the caterer had already been paid, the yarmulkas were on order… Send him to the rabbi. So here he sat. 
    “You don’t believe in God?” I asked him. 
    “No,” he confessed, with eyes cast downward, like he’d just told the Vice Principal that it was his spitball that hit the head cheerleader.
    “Ok, let’s talk.” He looked up at me relieved I wasn’t going to take out a magic wand and place a curse on him. 
    “You don’t believe in God. Ok. When you say that, what do you mean by God?” 
This was a question he did not expect. 
    “You’re a rabbi, you know... God.” 
    “Yes, but that’s a slippery word. What do you mean by God?”

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Thu, 09/20/2018 - 11:35am -- Rabbi Joshua Hoffman

We celebrate a tradition that encourages us to become masters of fine souls while we stitch our broken pieces back together.

When the news broke that Leonard Cohen passed in November 2016, he had already been flown back from Los Angeles to Montreal, his childhood home, and buried according to traditional Jewish rites. There was no doubt that this musician, philosopher and poet had a very Jewish soul. His family belonged to the shul in Montreal. He belonged to the shul. And while he may have practiced Buddhism and eschewed a traditionally observant life, he was brought home when he passed and buried with his family, with his people. His gift to the world - his music and his poetry - now perpetually resonate with the minor chord, the Jewish chord.

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Thu, 09/20/2018 - 9:13am -- Rabbi Noah Farkas

For the past ten years I have lead a physician's talmud study group called Dinner for Docs. We meet about once a quarter, have some wine and eat a nice dinner. Then we engage in Talmud study. It was there that I really got to know Dr. Joe Beezy. He’s sitting right over there. Joe and I became friends over a page of Talmud, so much so that he asked me to perform the marriage of his daughter, Talya, to wonderful man named Leonard. Talya, it was such a beautiful day, warm and verdant, your dad played the recorder, remember? It was on that day I met your brother this dashing young man with a huge smile, named Ben.

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Thu, 09/13/2018 - 10:06am -- Community News

On a sunny Los Angeles day, a few years ago, I was walking with my oldest son in our neighborhood. He is contemplative and thoughtful and there was a brief period of time, where it seemed like there was only one word in his vocabulary… ”why?”!  I remember that it was sunny, because on this particular day, he noticed his shadow. When he saw it, he quickly twisted his body around to see it closer up. When that didn’t work, even quicker than before, he twisted his body in the other direction. He said to me, “I can see it!” and in a disappointed tone “but I can’t catch it”. He continued to stare down the shadow, point his finger at it and try with tiny but exuberant might, to capture the shadow.

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Thu, 09/13/2018 - 7:58am -- Rabbi Ed Feinstein

As you drive north along the Eastern slopes of the Sierras, on the way up to Mammoth, just past the town of Lone Pine, you pass a desolate, lonely place called Manzanar. You should stop and visit. Today, Manzanar is a National Historical Site. In 1942, it was an internment site, one of ten along the West Coast, for more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans who were uprooted from their homes and imprisoned by the United States government following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese Americans were said to be spies, providing information to the Japanese command. With no evidence, they were accused of sabotaging the defenses of the West Coast, and inviting a Japanese invasion.

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Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:12pm -- Rabbi Joshua Hoffman

In times of uncertainty, truth and confidence are found in a moral balance, if only we will listen.

Wanda Diaz Merced is an accomplished astrophysicist. Several years ago, though, she lost her sight due to an extended illness. Challenged by the rigors of her field, one that primarily uses sight to interpret the data collected from the vast universe, she and her team devised a method of translating information into sound, called sonification. With the lilt and timber of sounds like musical notes, the information collected about some of the most rare phenomena studied by humanity was translated and reported by Dr. Merced.  And in time, she was able to discover a supernova, the incredible death of a star, that released more energy in one instant than what our sun produces in 10 days. She discovered this all without sight. With the help of sonification, she was listening.

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Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:55am -- Rabbi Noah Farkas

It was once said that Judaism is a tradition of minimum text and maximal interpretation.  Take these three words from the book of Leviticus “V'ahavtah l'rechah kamocha” Love your neighbor as yourself. (Lev. 19:18).  How clear can that be? How straight forward? How simple, how universal?  “V'ahavtah l'rechah kamocha” Love your neighbor as yourself.

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Wed, 09/05/2018 - 10:26am -- Rabbi Avi Taff

The other night I was trying to put my 6 year old daughter, Eliana, to bed but she just wouldn’t go to sleep!  It was late, I was tired and all I wanted was for her to go to bed so I could have a moment to myself, but she had other plans. She just wasn’t tired and for good reason; she had fallen asleep earlier in the day (a practice she was not accustomed to doing) but I continued to put my needs above hers. “Eliana if you don’t stop talking and go to bed there will be no screens tomorrow” (the worst possible punishment for a 6 year old in the 21st century)- At which point Eliana got even louder, beginning to cry. “Eliana you are going to wake your sister! That’s it! No screens for two days!” (the crying got even louder!)

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