Sometimes I don’t know what to worry about first. The list goes through my head in no particular order. (more…)

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In many cultures and societies around the world and far back into antiquity, the word used to describe this most treasured season is derived entirely from a description of its weather. Is that all the summer is about? Heat? One could certainly argue that heat is the dominant feature of the summer. I’d like to believe that summer is about so much more than just the heat. (more…)

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Festival of Shavuot

The Festival of Shavuot certainly does not have the
powerful observances of other festivals, dwelling in
booths on Sukkot or eating matzah on Passover.
Nonetheless, it has developed its own observances. We
eat dairy foods. A lot of us eat blintzes, (about
1000 calories a bite, so it is best you eat it
only once a year.) On Shavuot we read
the book of Ruth, the beautiful story of
a Moabite woman who cast her lot
with the Jewish people. “Your people
will be my people; your G-d will be my
G-d.” (more…)

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Melvin Passed Away…

When Melvin passed away, G-d greeted him and asked. “Are you hungry, Melvin?”

“I could eat,” Melvin replied.

So G-d opened a can of tuna and reached for a chunk of rye bread and they shared it. (more…)

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Between You and Me

There is a tendency to bewail the fact that today’s children have no heroes. Or, if they do, their heroes are only the celebrities who have achieved notoriety rather than worthiness.

The coming of Passover reminds me that apparently Judaism does not believe in heroes. We see that Moses is not mentioned in the Haggadah. We also ought to note that while Judah the Maccabee, like Moses, delivered our people, and rescued us against enormous odds, Judah is similarly uncelebrated in Jewish literature. The Talmud makes no reference to him or to his remarkable defeat of the powerful Syrian-Greek Empire. (more…)

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Does G-d Have Hands?

Does G-d Have Hands?
On the walls of our Sanctuary, there are the first Hebrew words of the Torah (on the right), about G-d’s creation of the world, and the last Hebrew words (on the left), the last verse from Deuteronomy, that speaks of G-d’s power and miracles. The Torah expresses the idea of G-d’s awesome power with the idiom הַיּדָ הַגְּ ֹ דלָה hayyad hagedolah, the great hand). But what does this mean? Does this mean that G-d has hands? (more…)

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I’ve been asked many times, “What does Judaism say about miracles?” Traditionally, miracles are understood to be a theophany, when G-d shows up and intervenes in our lives to change destiny. Whether it’s cracking open the sky to flood the world, or bringing forth manna like dew upon the field, miracles, it has been thought, are G-d’s works in a human world. The Exodus is full of miracles, in its demonstrations of G-d’s power through the plagues, or G-d’s redemptive force by splitting the sea. (more…)

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Imagine the year 1621, the year of the first Thanksgiving. Imagine being one of those pilgrims who first set sail for America. Despite warning of the hazards, they sailed through rough waters, accidentally ending up in Massachusetts instead of the intended destination of Virginia. Arriving in winter, these pilgrims endured cold weather, limited food, insufficient shelter -all leading to illness and despair for many. Within a short time, many had died. As spring approached, those remaining planted wheat and corn. Neither was successful, and other attempts to replenish their supplies were equally unsuccessful. Imagine being one of those pilgrims. Would there have been much for which to feel grateful? (more…)

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Leonard Cohen Says “Here I Am”

Oct. 6, 1973. It’s Yom Kippur. Even non-religious Israelis are in shul. After the Six-Day War in 1967, six years earlier, a fantastic and one-sided victory against its enemies, Israel has become complacent.
And all of a sudden, on this holiest of days, Israelis start to hear that the Syrian army is attacking on the Golan Heights where there are very few Israeli troops and it looks like they can charge through right to Tel Aviv. Egypt is crossing the Suez Channel. Israel is being overrun. Its very existence hangs in the balance.
On that day, Jewish people in Israel and around the world were chanting the prayer Unetana Tokef: “Who will live and who will die? Who will reach the end of their days and who will not?” This prayer is supposed to be a wake-up call to think about life itself. This prayer is meant to call us to reflection. (more…)

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Trouble With The Curve

There are a lot of great sports movies but the one I’m going to tell you about isn’t one of them. The one I want to talk about is a nice, warm film called “Trouble with the Curve”. It stars Clint Eastwood as a veteran baseball scout who has always had an eye for great players in the making but now his eyes are failing, and he is having trouble. (more…)

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