We are living in tremendously vulnerable times. This is evident in a commonly thrown concept of world leadership called “The Deep State.” This is the notion that the truth we know isn’t the real truth, and that there is some other force at play pulling the strings of power to make decisions on our collective behalf. Such thinking resonates with a profound mistrust we have in our world today. Even casual conversation with people we consider friends can be laden with the suspicion that maybe what they say and share isn’t how they really act. Taken seriously these thoughts can be extremely dangerous.
We live in paradox. We are more connected to each other than ever, and feel ever more isolated. We embrace technology to get more free time and yet we are working harder than ever. There are more books written today and less readers to read them. For some, we have unlimited choices in what to eat and what to watch on TV and yet we seem never to be satisfied with our choice.
The other day, I was waiting for an Uber driver to pick me up from the car repair shop. I watched as he drove up to the location and quickly passed while speeding up. I was initially agitated, thinking his oversight was the result of the ‘do it yourself’ culture. And then my heart sank rapidly. I thought, “Maybe he saw my kippah and kept on driving because he didn’t want to pick me up!”
Each Monday, the ECC gathers together for Havdalah, a time when we say goodbye to the weekend and welcome in the new week. Children and staff sit closely, shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, on laps and in harmony.We take in the sweet smells, sounds and sights of this weekly celebration and cherish the still moment when the flame of the Havdalah candle kisses the wine in the kiddush cup...
I was asked to give a D’var Torah today about the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah, also known as Chag Haurim, The Festival of Lights. According to the Shulchan Aruch - “In addition to the candles that are lit for each day, there is a special candle known as the shamash. This extra candle is necessary because...
Jane Spitzer made her first trip to Southern California from her hometown of Montreal, Canada during her senior year in college. She found the environment so “warm and welcoming,” that it came as no surprise to anyone who knew her that shortly after graduation, she would board a plane and permanently relocate.
Whether we are teachers, clergy, administration, or staff at VBS we all encounter students throughout the day. We often wonder what impact we make on our children. Are they listening to the advice or guidance that we give them?
In the last couple of decades, there has been a great deal of experimentation with liturgical music in the American Synagogue. Conservative and Reform Congregations have been experimenting with prayers such as, L’cha Dodi, Shalom Aleichem, Sim Shalom, Shalom Rav, etc. We have all experienced the new melodies for these prayers and others. When I pool a group of people, for example, at a Shiva minyan and ask them, “do you prefer the new music or the old music?” I get an interesting answer.
One of the gifts I receive as a rabbi is to live and work with the full spectrum of humanity. In the morning, I play with toddlers on the floor and by noon I’m teaching a class to retirees. In the afternoon, I’m with adolescents teaching prayers or ethics, and in the evening I’m having a drink with young professionals. That’s just my Tuesday. There’s a real privilege I feel in experiencing the entire range of human experience on an almost daily basis. I see joy and pain. I see triumph and failure. I see spring awakenings and autumnal enervation. We live all at once, simultaneously careening into and out of life. Even in maturity life is inchoate. Emerging. Evolving. Becoming. It is a gift to see and feel the emotional and spiritual tapestry that make up the whole of life.
The Jewish calendar is bunched up during this month with Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, and finally Simchat Torah. That is a lot of time in synagogue! While we’re always happy to see our community to share the rhythms of time together, there is a kind of fatigue that comes by the end of the holidays. But the last holiday of the season is the best! We finish these holidays with one of the most joyous, raucous, and energetic events - Simchat Torah - the day we celebrate the end of the Torah reading on a weekly basis and begin reading the Torah all over again.