We want you to have a sweet year. But in my case, I’ve begun to have a tweet year. On the advice of my technical advisers, I have gone on Twitter. Twitter is a way of communicating through short messages by which one can send a message to many people at the same time. The challenge for me is to say what I want to say in two sentences; it’s sort of a new art form. So if you’d like to receive my messages, some personal, some thoughtful and some just fun, go to www.twitter.com/rabbiscolnic.
Our synagogue is in the process of changing from one prayer book, what we call the Silverman Siddur, to Sim Shalom, the new prayer book of the Conservative movement. In fact, Jacob is the first Bar or Bat mitzvah ceremony in this shul to use the new prayer book. Our shul has been slow to change, at least partly because of me. I want to tell you why I was so slow to change, but also why I found a prevailing reason to change, and why I now think it was so necessary. All matters of the spirit are personal, so I ask your indulgence in allowing me to speak in very personal terms.
So I go down to see my parents in Maryland. And even though it’s a plane ride of less than an hour, it’s a day with terrible winds and the plane is rocky and I’m feeling sick because I left my stomach somewhere over the swamps of New Jersey and I’m irritated because the rental car place didn’t have the car I’d ordered and I’m driving a car that makes so much noise I’m getting a headache. (more…)
Mr. Spock is one of television’s most famous characters. You remember Mr. Spock, the starship lieutenant with the pointed ears on the original Star Trek series and in a number of popular movies. What distinguishes Mr. Spock is his rational behavior; he is puzzled by what he considers to be the illogical feelings and emotions of human beings. Mr. Spock is half-human, the product of an interspecies marriage, the son of a human mother and a Vulcan father. But it is his Vulcan side that prevails. (more…)
Billy was a student at the Beverly Hills High School, 90210. He started doing drugs. He failed English and physical education. He did whatever he wanted to do whenever he wanted to do it. He stole money from his parents. He broke into his parents’ tenants’ house and stole from them. (more…)
Many of us have very close friends who live in another town whom we don’t talk to enough, we don’t see enough. One of my dearest friends, my closest rabbinical friend, is Rabbi Elliot Salo Schoenberg. Elliot is the Associate Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinical organization of Conservative rabbis. He has a job that requires a lot of travel, and I’m pretty busy, and so we talk once in a while, certainly not enough, but we’re there for each other in the special good times and the stressful bad times. When we do talk or visit, it’s never during the week; it’s on a Sunday night or during the summer or during a vacation. (more…)
When I was a child, there was a couple in my father’s shul that embodied kindness and intelligence. I’ll call them Ozzie and Harriet. They were the nicest, most refined people I ever knew: positive and sensitive. They thought three times before they said a word. When I got older, I learned that they both were psychologists, one in clinical research and the other in private practice. (more…)
So here we are, at the beginning of a new year. If we really are going to use these sacred days as a time of introspection, we need to ask a basic question: How do we see ourselves? The High Holidays are sort of a base line for measuring where we are in our lives. Do we see ourselves for what we are, or do we see ourselves as better or worse than we really are?
One of the books of the Bible that we don’t talk about a lot is the Book of Proverbs. So I want to read you something from the Book of Proverbs. It says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This is a way of saying that everyone needs dreams and a goal in order to live life satisfactorily. If we don’t have a specific goal in mind, if we don’t know where we want to go, we’re more likely to end up in places not of our choosing. If we have goals, if we have milestones toward our goals, these things will keep us focused and energized to make our lives more interesting and useful. (more…)
Life is often filled with broken hopes and big disappointments. Therefore, what is important is not so much what happens to us, but it is the attitude we take toward that which happens. Frustrated ambitions and crucial circumstances certainly affect life, but it lies within our power to direct the impact. When we raise lightening rods of worry, we will attract thunderbolts of trouble. (more…)