Mai Thanksgiving? What is Thanksgiving?

Posted on November 13, 2018

If the Talmud had a tractate on the holiday of Thanksgiving, it would likely begin like this: “Mai Thanksgiving?” What is Thanksgiving? What is its meaning? What is its purpose? So, what is Thanksgiving? Is it merely an opportunity to gather with family and friends to eat too much turkey and stuffing, maybe watch football, Continue Reading »

Happy Birthday, World

Posted on September 5, 2018

As the last hot days of summer pass, Jews around the world prepare for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah, literally translated as the “head of the year,” occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. Referred to in the Torah as Yom HaZikaron (day of remembrance) and Continue Reading »

20/20 Insight

Posted on September 5, 2018

Sen. Cory Booker describes an “aha” moment in his life that occurred when he was a law student at Yale. Having grown up in North Jersey, he decided that he would live in a housing project in Newark and commute to New Haven, Conn. He was already determined to make a difference in the community, Continue Reading »

Jewels of Elul — #15: “What If?”

Posted on August 26, 2018

What If? by Rabbi David Wolpe Life is composed of finite facts and infinite possibilities. Part of the art of living is to take the possibilities and elevate those which enhance our lives, improve our world and grow our souls…. In the Talmud, one Rabbi has a dream about an upside-down world. By stretching our Continue Reading »

Shavuot: Celebrating the Gift of Torah

Posted on May 4, 2018

First, a little Hebrew. The three root letters of shavu’ot are shin-bet-ayin — the same root that yields the word sheva’, “seven, sevenfold, seven times.” (In the language of the Bible, sheva’ can also mean the less specific “many times.”) Sheva’ appears frequently in Jewish tradition. The sheva b’rachot, “seven blessings,” are recited at a Continue Reading »

Welcoming Elijah

Posted on March 7, 2018

As we all know, no Seder is complete without a communal expression of our hope for a visit from Elijah the prophet, who signals the time when “the hearts of parents will be turned towards their children, and the hearts of children will be turned towards their parents” (Micah 3:24). Elijah heralds the coming of Continue Reading »

Things Kids Hate About Seder

Posted on March 3, 2018

I don’t know what it means. It’s boring. It just drags on and on. There’s so much to read. I’m hungry. Being allowed to have only a small bite of food each time we say a blessing is torture. Horseradish doesn’t taste good. My extended family speaks different languages. I’m not allowed to text at Continue Reading »

The Origins and Meaning of the Tu BiShvat Seder

Posted on January 2, 2018

There is no halachah, no legal structure to define Tu Bishvat. For this reason, its position in Jewish practice wavers between two opposing poles, which can be understood by reference to two important Jewish leaders of the 20th Century: the modern orthodox scholar Rabbi Irving Greenberg and the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson. According Continue Reading »

What’s New? Plenty!

Posted on September 2, 2017

Shalom Chaverim! I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable summer, including some time to relax and escape from the hustle and bustle that dominates the bulk of the year. While we welcome the slower pace of June through August, life at Temple Beth-El is always a beehive of activity. I’d like to take this Continue Reading »

Bring the Light of Chanukah into the New Year

Posted on January 5, 2017

When we light candles, we usually do so to enjoy their light. We put tapers on the table to set the mood for a lovely dinner. Shabbat candles are intended to light up our homes, to dispel the darkness, so we will have “light and joy,” “ora v’simcha,” when we gather to celebrate. Light is Continue Reading »