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A Bisl Torah

Four Questions


Why is this night different from all other nights? We sing this chorus over and over again, listing answers as to how the night is unique. We only eat matzah. We consume bitter herbs. We dip our food twice. We recline. These answers persuade our minds to travel back in time, connecting us to a people enslaved, a people with the taste of liberation barely on their lips. But this year, the question pervades everything else.    Why is this night different from all other nights?    Why will this Passover feel different from all other Pesach celebrations we have…

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Never Limit Love


  I went to Ralph’s and above the bread section were the following words:   LIMITS… Due to the huge increase in demand and to ensure that more of our valuable customers have the opportunity to purchase, we are limiting bread to 2 packages per customer.   There were signs like this all over the store. Yet, all I could see was that word, “Limits.” Yes, limit the amount of food and supplies in taking what we need. But the idea of limits extends far beyond the grocery store.   In order to live within the unknown, our minds and…

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Connecting Through Light


A special message from Rabbi Nicole Guzik   I understand that many of us feel afraid. But, what exactly do we fear? No answers. An inability to know when this will end. It is the unknown that feels shaky. Living with so much doubt is what causes a sinking ship; unable to navigate the murky waters set before us. But we have lived through uncertain times. We have walked on thorny paths. It is knowing that we are not alone that gives us hope and bolsters our strength.   Jews have lit Shabbat candles for thousands of years, connecting us…

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Hide n’ Seek


I recently led a few discussions, asking, “When was a time you hid something about yourself?” I found myself hearing the following responses:   -I hide that people hurt my feelings because I don’t want to upset anyone.  -I hide how sensitive I am because I don’t want others to see my emotion. -I hide what is really happening at home because I don’t want people to think that something might be wrong.   I led these discussions with women. Women of all ages, all stages of life. We explored the idea that in the story of Purim, everything changes…

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Go Fish


  It’s been a busy week. Programs, meetings, teachings, a chaotic schedule. All of which leads to late nights, writing emails and rushed dinners. As I settled into the couch, ready to play catch up with my computer, an eight year old voice called out, “Mom, want to play Go Fish?”    Truthfully, I groaned. Go Fish? A game that never ends because there’s always a conversation that ensues…”Mom, one more round? Mom, just one more game?” It’s a never-ending cycle. And full disclosure: I’m competitive. I always want to win, no matter if the competitor is a 40 year…

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Mourning a Classmate


  It is common for a rabbi to be familiar with death. When someone in the synagogue passes away, our hearts grow heavy, for community becomes akin to family. We discuss mourning rituals, theology, and ways to help loved ones connect to the souls of those that have continued to the world beyond.    But when a rabbi’s classmate, another rabbi dies, it almost feels as if the world has tilted. Everything is a bit off balance. Someone that has spent his life comforting, mentoring and teaching others is no longer with us and it just doesn’t seem right. It…

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Life of a Kindergartner


We try to read with our children at night. Each kid chooses a book and as part of the bedtime ritual, we wind down with stories about dinosaurs or Lego characters. For the very first time, our kindergartner said, “Let me read the book to you.” Did he get every word? No. Did he understand the entirety of the story? Not even close. But our hearts soared because it was as if he took a key, unlocked a door, and started walking towards the edge of an entirely new world. A world of imagination, discovery, creativity, possibility and wonder. When…

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Seasons of Love


Around this time of year, the secular world prepares for an influx of chocolates, palettes of red and pink, roses, and a scurrying to secure both a date and restaurant reservation for February 14th. While we remember that Valentine’s Day originated as a pagan holiday, one can’t help asking the question, “What’s love?” Is love receiving heart-shaped cards with corny rhymes? Is love proclaiming the auspicious words, “I love you” before the other person has a chance to say it first? Is love getting breakfast in bed, a plate adorned with flower petals and champagne flutes? Maybe. Maybe Not.  …

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Children’s Laughter


This week, I met with a bar mitzvah family to discuss the upcoming simcha. In the middle of our conversation, we were interrupted by running feet and talkative voices coming through the wall. I explained that my office is adjacent to the hallway. Come 3pm, the hallway is like a subway station. Students, teachers, parents, strollers, laughter, high fives, and embraces come from every direction. It is understood that from about 3-3:30pm, the synagogue and garage are packed with people of all different ages. The father of the bar mitzvah smiled and said, “I actually can’t think of a better…

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Cut it out


When preparing challah for Shabbat, we separate a piece of dough, reminiscent of the offering given to the Kohanim. While the act connects us to thousands of years of tradition, there is also something liberating about separating in order to feel more complete. We even offer a blessing during this act of separation. Meaning, it is praiseworthy when we recognize what should remain integrated within our lives and what needs to be thrown away.   In order to feel a sense of wholeness, from what do you need to separate? What needs to be cut out?    For many years…

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