Your Money Or Your Life! Or Essential Services

Have you ever heard of Benjamin Kubelsky? If not, you may have heard of him by his show business name, Jack Benny. He was one of the most famous comedians of the 20th century.
In the most famous skit he ever did, a robber threatens him:
“This is a stickup: Your money or your life!”
Benny is silent.
“Look Bud, I said, “Your money or your life.””
Benny says, “I’m thinking it over.” (more…)

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The Problem with Expectations Or Presidents and Other False Messiahs

I want to talk today about expectations. You may find that the first part of what I say expresses some things about your life that you do not even admit to yourself. Some of you will find the second part of what I say, about expectations of our country and our leaders, very controversial. But it’s Yom Kippur, and if we’re not honest on Yom Kippur, we never will be. (more…)

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The Dutch House

I try to read a couple of bestsellers every year, trying to understand America’s mood by reading what everyone else is reading. One of the books I read this year was The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I want to talk about this novel tonight as a way to get into how we think about our lives, how we think about our Judaism and the way we think about the people in our families. (more…)

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Sukkot

You shall dwell in Sukkot seven days. . . In order that future generations will know that I made the Israelites live in Sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. [Leviticus 23:42, 43] (more…)

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Ritual During A Pandemic

Let’s be very basic: What is ritual? Ritual provides a model of reality, showing how to interpret the world as is, as well as a model for reality, clarifying how life ideally should be.

Ritual brings these two aspects – the “model of” and the “model for” – together.

Ritual is about order and sameness. There is comfort and security in knowing that ritual stays the same, no matter what. (more…)

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New Things

There is a controversy that has been raging in Jewish thought, in our civil affairs, and even in everyone’s personal lives for millennia.

People are simply reluctant to accept new things. So often a new thing has to wait for just the right moment in history until it finally gains acceptance. Still today, some people still refuse on principle to get connected to the Internet and use e-mail. For these folks, the Covid-19 outbreak has been particularly challenging and isolating. (more…)

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A Different Passover This Year

A Different Passover This Year
 
Dear Friend,
 
Why is this Passover going to be different from every other Passover?
 
Passover is going to be very different this year because we are going to have to think through every bit of social contact, even with our loved ones. (more…)

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How We Can Provide Virtual Services?

For those who have questions about how we can do this, here is what the Conservative movement has stated:

In this crisis situation in an area in which civil and/or medical authorities decree that it is unsafe for people to gather in person and recommend or order the closure of houses of worship, it is permitted to constitute a minyan whose constitutive participants (ten adult Jewish) are not located in one physical place…. In an emergency situation such as the one we are now experiencing, people participating in a minyan that is only online may recite devarim shebikdushah, prayers that require a minyan, with their community. The participants counted for the minyan must be able to see and hear each other through virtual means and be able to respond “Amen” and other liturgical replies to the prayer leader.

(more…)

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March and April are interesting, even exciting months.

March and April are interesting, even exciting months.

Hope is renewed! We get to measure ourselves against what was and what we hope will be. For some of us,
baseball returns, and if you’re a fan, you are allowed to dream again of what may be possible. It is a long journey. Just as very fan of every team has hope, all of us have hope for the months ahead.

(more…)

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