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Posted by Keri on November 13, 2019

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?

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Posted by Cantor Herschel Fox on October 30, 2019

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.

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Posted by Rabbi Noah Farkas on October 23, 2019

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. 

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on October 16, 2019

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.

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Posted by Cantor Phil Baron on October 2, 2019

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Woodstock Festival, so we could hardly pass up the opportunity to celebrate this landmark occasion with our own Woodshlock Purim, next Wednesday, March 20 at 7:00 pm.  Our Purim schpiel will feature songs played at Woodstock in 1969, and other psychedelic, far-out, and terminally groovy tunes of the era.  Chris Hardin and his band will be here “turning it up to eleven” along with some larynx-shredding vocals by our talented singers. Please dress in your 60s gear, or if you can’t dig up anything Woodstock-appropriate, feel free to come by and shop in my closet!  Actually, at the real Woodstock clothing wasn’t all that important (if you know what I mean...).

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on September 18, 2019

As parents, we try to learn from the vast wisdom of others and to teach our children to behave with care and compassion.  I remember the years, not too long ago, when we helped our young children learn the word ‘share.’ Fearing that their developing maturity would prompt long, scream-filled battles with their older siblings while claiming, “Mine!” we thought “Share” would be the best response. Much to our surprise, they took to the word beautifully, and now use the word “Share” every time they really want to say, “Mine!” 

“Share! Share! Share!”...

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on September 11, 2019

There is a story that haunts me this time of year. It haunts every rabbi I know.

It is the story of a young Jew who lived in Germany at the beginning of the century -- a brilliant student of philosophy at the university in Berlin. All of his cousins, and all his colleagues and acquaintances had converted to Christianity, as was so common among young Jews at the time. His professors urged him to convert as well to assure himself a position in German academic life. Inasmuch as Judaism meant so very little to him, he agreed to become a Christian. But the young man had a sense of history, and decided that were he to become a Christian, it had to be as the first Christians  -- he had to do so as a Jew. So for one last time, he stepped into a synagogue on Kol Nidre night -- planning to receive baptism the very next morning... 

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Posted by Member Spotlight on June 18, 2019

On Shavuot, we invite people who have converted to Judaism to share their story -- how they came to Judaism, why it touched them, how they celebrate being Jewish.

Good morning. When invited to speak today, I started about five different documents on my computer with various tangents discussing different aspects of my journey here today. I had so many thoughts and ways to tell this story, but only having an hour to talk (just kidding), I wanted to get to the core of what I believe, so will be starting with what I know...

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on June 12, 2019

A rabbi I know once brought a nursery school class into the synagogue sanctuary for a tour. He showed them the bima, the ner tamid, the cantor"s and rabbi's lecterns. Finally, the tiny kids stood before the huge doors of the Holy Ark.

"What do you suppose is in there?" he asked them.
"Nothing!" one child answered, "It's empty. There’s nothing in there."
"It’s a new car!" another shouted.
"An old, old Torah!" responded another.
"I know! I know" one child insisted, "It's a mirror!"

Each of the kids was right.

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Posted by Rabbi Noah Farkas on June 5, 2019

This past weekend I performed a wedding at the most amazing mansion I’ve ever seen.  From the very top of Malibu I saw the mountains and rolling hills and the mists upon the sea.  The wedding ceremony itself was on the house’s helipad - because Malibu. This being Los Angeles, I heard that movies had been filmed there. I’m not going to lie, it was stunning.

The wedding couple was so much fun to be with, and their family and friends were just lovely.  But this wasn’t their house. They were renting the place for the wedding and the owners were nowhere to be seen... 

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