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A Bisl Torah

Morning Goodbyes


This week I dropped my son off at a new camp. In the mornings, I offer to sit on the gym steps and wait with him until a familiar face arrives. With a tight-lip and strong face, he shakes his head and stoically shoos me away. Feeling a bit negligent, I walk away. My thoughts begin a conversation: “But, he barely knows anyone.” “Stop. This is good for him. Let him figure it out.” “He’s only 4 ½. Maybe I should go back and take him home.” “He told you to leave. Let him grow up.” I always end up…

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You Deserve Ice Cream


Revel a little. Eat the ice cream. It’s not in my personality to be spontaneous. I am a methodical person and live by to-do-lists and thoughtful planning. But there is something about the start of summer that makes me want to throw away the list and embrace the extra hours of sunlight. The dishes will still be there. The vacuuming and laundry will continue to knock on my door. And the most important lesson: learning Torah is best internalized when living Torah. So throw down the list, jump in the car with some people you love, and go live a…

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Head Towards The Exit


A wonderful colleague of mine is leaving for the east coast. We decided to sit down and conduct “exit interviews.” An exit interview is usually a chance to explain the positives of an organization and offer suggestions for improvement, helping the next person that takes the vacant position to flourish and grow. It allows supervisors and peers to look inside themselves and determine where and when they have been an exemplary employee and where they fall short. Because this colleague and I have been friends and co-workers for seven years, the “exit interview” became much more. We were able to…

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Don’t Be A Bad Student


In my most recent guitar lesson, the teacher gently and firmly reminded me that he was the teacher and I was the student. I have no previous knowledge of how to play guitar or form chords, but I insisted he teach me according to my own preferences and what I deem important. Stubbornly, I felt as if I knew more. That I understand the way I learn best and he wasn’t following along. But at some point, he stopped the lesson and said, “I know you have many students. When you’re the rabbi, they listen to you. Now, I am…

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Those People


My family and I went to see Paul Simon at the Hollywood Bowl. I grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel, my father training our young ears as he drove us to and from school each day. When I found out Paul Simon was coming to Los Angeles for his “Homeward Bound” tour, it felt like my childhood was patting my shoulder, saying hello. My husband surprised me with tickets and off we went. It seemed like we lucked out. Almost an entirely empty row in front of us, perfect viewing of Paul and the band. The sun began to…

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Are You Busy?


A few months ago, I engaged in a conversation with a retired member of our community. I was moving around the sanctuary, and it was clear to the member that I was running from one task to the next. He noticed the strain on my face as I paused in my tasks to speak for a few minutes. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to chat; I was just running against the clock, trying to get everything done before the day’s end. He looked at me in the eye and said, “Nicole, never stop being busy. Being busy is a…

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Some Coffee and Some Gratitude


After your coffee, start your day with opportunity. I was recently in a conversation with a Bat Mitzvah student and she frequently used the word, “opportunity.” That to start her Bat Mitzvah studying and preparation was an opportunity. To have the ability to participate in the minyan, be counted, and improve this community with her presence was an opportunity and a gift. When I asked her what she meant, she explained that as a bat mitzvah, it will be her turn to infuse meaning in the mitzvot. It reminded me that so often we perform mitzvot, engage in obligations and…

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To Observe and Remember


Our little guy, Henry learned how to jump out of his crib. At 4:00am, we heard the pitter- patter of little feet and there he was. Blonde curls, pajama clad, huge smile. I remember our other children slightly frightened at the possibility of falling or injuring themselves. Not this kid. Just pure pride that he accomplished his goal. And now we look at the crib with a sense of nostalgia, understanding that the baby stages of Henry’s life are creeping further and further away. When I mentioned that sadness to a friend, she remarked, “You’ll see. It only gets better.”…

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Do You Believe In God?


A recent Pew study finds that 80% of Americans believe in God and 9% of those that say they don’t, believe in some higher power. That is a pretty high percentage of people seeking something greater than themselves. It is even more astounding that those who claim to be “non-believers,” admit to believing something when pushed a little further. Perhaps you believe in a God that is described in the Bible. Maybe you believe in a God that is all-knowing and ever-present. Possibly you believe in something that doesn’t fit the name “God,” but you feel the presence of something reverberating throughout…

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If Only We Could Tell Them


Rabbi Sherman and I have developed a wonderful friendship with Pastor JP Foster from Faithful Central Bible Church, close by in Inglewood. Pastor Foster serves thousands and thousands of Christians; he spoke at our Orden Family MLK Shabbat, traveled to Israel with other Christian faith leaders, and is developing an unbreakable bond with the land of Israel. We most recently traveled together to the AIPAC conference and to experience the conference through his eyes was truly remarkable. He and I bantered through the sessions and we teased about which speaker, which moment would be the one we shared during our…

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