Blog: Rabbi Hoffman

Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on May 31, 2018

Have you seen this? Food engineers have created something amazing. It looks like meat, tastes like meat, and you can serve it as a cheeseburger. Best of all? It’s Kosher. Orthodox Kosher. That’s perhaps why the name of the producer is called, Impossible Foods. The meat is not meat at all. It’s plant based, completely vegan, and looks delicious!

For those shackled by the constraints of a legally bound and religiously sanctioned diet, this news is liberating. It opens the discussion for many more questions regarding the new technologies of cellular agriculture and other genetically modified food production.

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on April 26, 2018

Of all the ways that we can define Jewish identity, from birthright to good feelings, from pursuing justice to devoted ritual practice, being Jewish is the most elusive. I have to laugh when, over the years, I have heard many say to me, “Funny, you don’t look Jewish!” (I have blond-ish hair and blue-ish eyes. Apparently, this is not very Jew-ish.) Yes, this kind of thinking, that looking is like being, has been challenging us inside our community and sadly from the outside throughout history.

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on March 15, 2018

What defines Jewish art and music? Is it a creative act fashioned by a Jew? Is it a style, a sense, a shape, a quality that feels Jewish? Is there is a certain sound – whether it is the high-pitched shrill of a clarinet or the delicate dance of a violin – that when you hear it you know it is Jewish?

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on January 10, 2018

We’ve all seen the latest advertisements for phone gadgets allowing us to create avatars which mimic our speaking and facial expressions. They are so great! This fantastic feature is simply the next step in an ongoing evolution of artificial intelligence that in some way helps us connect and relate better with each other.

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on December 7, 2017

Fires this week are causing great damage to land and homes in the Southern California area. Several members of our Valley Beth Shalom community are displaced as the fire rages just a few miles from our synagogue home. Where there has been heartbreak, there is inspired heroism. Where there has been concern for the safety of the vulnerable among us, there is unflagging commitment to provide shelter, protection, and confidence that in moments of crisis we are here for each other.

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on November 9, 2017

Once there was a young man strolling on the coastline on a late morning in the autumn. As he approached a stretch of shoreline he noticed hundreds of thousands of starfish washed up on the beach. Apparently changes in tidal patterns had forced this massive deposit of starfish the previous night. As he continued to walk closer to the starfish, he noticed in the distance the figure of an older gentleman gently lifting the creatures and tossing them back, one by one, into the ocean, pausing for a moment between each throw. The younger man approached the older man and struck up a conversation with him.

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on September 27, 2017

Benjamin Franklin is one of America’s great heroes. He’s the one to make popular the idea “From Rags to Riches.” A child of extreme poverty, he quickly became a success by literally turning the rags he once used for newspapers into paper currency - riches. The self-made man, the hero with humble beginnings, achieved the impossible. Benjamin Franklin, the shining face of a currency that implies wealth and success is the model of American achievement. He embodies what we strive toward - fulfilling the American dream.

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on July 20, 2017

This year we will celebrate 70 years of statehood and national independence in the Land of Israel. It is a time to rejoice in the thousands of years old dream, “To be a free people, in our Land - Lihyot Am Chofshee B’Artzeinu,” as the words of Hatikvah proclaim. The unfolding drama of the State of Israel is focus of daily study and concern for us as it has been for millennia.

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on June 22, 2017

How many times have we cringed after a quick response to a troubling comment or after an impulsive reaction to a difficult situation? What does it mean for us to wish for just one more moment to think about what we should have said or done?

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on May 18, 2017

I wasn’t alive to read the news of crematoria constructed to burn Jewish bodies in Europe during the Shoah. I wasn’t alive to witness the palpable dread and concern the world must have felt as news washed upon the shores of this land of freedom and security.  I wasn’t alive to urge our leaders to act swiftly or to pray for the safety of those whose lives were in mortal danger.

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