Shabbat Message: Let Us Soften Our Hearts

Posted on January 15, 2021

“And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened…” (Ex 7:22) This week’s parashah continues the story of the Exodus and the dramatic confrontation between God and Pharaoh. It is a story of pain and suffering that multiplies as the oppressor becomes the victim of his own designs. And the root of it all? The hardening of the heart. Continue Reading »

A Patchwork of Heritage

Posted on January 15, 2021

January 2021. Imagine for a moment that you are a visitor from another planet. You’ve somehow arrived in central New Jersey and are standing in, of all places, the Temple Beth-El parking lot, which is empty. There is a structure before you. Although you look around for indications that other beings are present, there are Continue Reading »

What Judaism Means to Me

Posted on January 15, 2021

Comments from the Reflection Service during Yom Kippur My favorite Hebrew expression is kolhakavod. I heard it for the first time from a spectator, screaming from the sidewalk, as I was running the Jerusalem marathon. I was only at about mile five and this person was not just cheering ME. I was among thousands of Continue Reading »

Chazon Restoration Campaign – Protecting Temple Beth-El’s Future

Posted on January 15, 2021

For many of us, the last nine months have been some of the most challenging of our lives. Throughout these unprecedented times, our Temple Beth-El leaders and staff have worked hard to support our family of congregants and adapt to changing needs. Examples include the Helping Hands and Ladles of Love initiatives; regular phone outreach Continue Reading »

Niggun de Yoma – Marking Jewish Time with Music

Posted on January 15, 2021

On the Shabbat that fell during Chanukah this past year, we sang the traditional melody for Ma’ozTzur, set to “MiChamocha” during our evening and morning services. In the morning, during a brief rendition of Hallel, I used the same melody to chant the text from Psalm 118, “HoduL’Adonai Ki Tov” (“praise God for God is Continue Reading »

Signs and Forces of Renewal

Posted on January 15, 2021

One of my favorite things about TuBiShvat is that it portends the arrival of spring. When my family and I lived in Israel, we used to go out to the Carmel Forest near Haifa on TuBiShvat to see the cyclamens and the almond blossoms, the first signs of new life. Even in Israel, which is Continue Reading »

Shabbat Message: The Wisdom of the Midwife: First Breathe,Then Push

Posted on January 8, 2021

Two days have passed since the violent attack on the Capitol and many, if not most, of us are still in shock. If we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes, we likely would not have believed it could happen -— not here, not in America. To this I say: thank God this is America. Continue Reading »

Shabbat Message: May We Truly Live

Posted on January 1, 2021

This Shabbat, as we turn a page in the secular calendar, we also turn a page in Torah. With Parashat Va-yechi and the death of Jacob, we come to the end of the Book of Genesis and the days of our patriarchs and matriarchs. It is the end of an era, the end of our Continue Reading »

Shabbat Message for the End of Chanukah: Hope is More than Wishful Thinking

Posted on December 18, 2020

One Chanukah, while imprisoned in a concentration camp in Germany, the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn learned a lesson about hope. “It was the cold winter of 1944,” he wrote, “and although we had nothing like calendars, my father, who was my fellow prisoner there, took me and some of our friends to a corner of Continue Reading »

A Message for Shabbat Chanukah: The True Miracle that Banishes the Darkness

Posted on December 11, 2020

The True Miracle that Banishes the Darkness The Torah contains many examples of what I like to call “billboard moments” — places in the text where a kernel of life’s most profound wisdom is distilled into a pithy statement you would want to put on a billboard to announce to the world. These include sayings like Continue Reading »