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A Bisl Torah

Don’t Wait


Nir Rubin, IDF veteran begged the 200 Sinai Temple members sitting before him, “If you need to say thank you to someone, don’t wait. You may never get another chance.”   He painted a heartbreaking picture of his life as a soldier during the Second Lebanon War. A medic and sharpshooter in the Golani Brigade, Nir was tasked with checking the identities of fallen soldiers in Bint Jbei. His wedding was just one week away. He checked one soldier. He checked the next. When he came to the third, Nir passed his flashlight over the deceased soldier’s face. He checked…

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Many thanks for all of you


At Pico Union Project’s Faithsgiving, hundreds of Angelenos stood in line waiting to fill baskets with turkey, vegetables and all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner. If you stopped to think about the hunger and amount of need, one night feel paralyzed by sadness. But Craig Taubman and PUP wouldn’t allow anyone to stand still. Music blaring from the stage, dancing, singing, children decorating cookies and cards, playing in bounce houses, everyone having the time of their lives. The theme was clearly: dignity. It is clear that hard times exist on the shoulders of many dwelling around us. But Craig’s message…

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The Elevator


Headed to a meeting outside of the synagogue, I entered an elevator. An elevator that is pre-programmed to reach your designated floor. An elevator with no buttons indicating where you plan to go. A few of us entered the elevator and like clockwork, we all reached for the panel where buttons usually exist. With sheepish laughter, we looked at each other and shrugged. “Habit”, I said. Another gentleman sagely offered, “I guess we have no choice but to take this journey together.” How wise and how true. The elevator ride was a few short minutes, but he was correct. Nowhere…

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Accept the Help


I reread the story about the three strangers visiting Abraham and Sarah. We know these are not three ordinary people. They are angels, emissaries of God. Abraham does not walk towards the angels; he rushes to help. But his hurrying doesn’t astonish me. Something else surprises me even more. There is very little hesitation from the angels. Abraham offers his service and the angels accept.They eat. They drink. They relax. Unlike many of us, there is no dramatic holding up of hands and protesting, “No, no, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” Rather, clearly in need, the angels accept the…

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The Signs Are There


Recently, my husband and I traveled to Woodbury Jewish Center to serve as scholars-in-residence. We preached from the bimah, learned with the congregation, and enjoyed getting to know this wonderful community. On Sunday, I attended their morning minyan, filled with awe as I witnessed a beautiful ritual. Two members of the congregation commemorated the yahrzeits of their fathers. At the end of the morning service, the cantor called the two men forward. We all rose as the ark opened, the cantor handing each man a Sefer Torah.  Before the recitation of the Memorial Prayer, each man shared a few words…

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Where is God’s Voice?


It has been a frightening time for the city of Los Angeles. High winds, extreme heat, blazing fires. For a city that is known for its jammed roads and bumper to bumper traffic, an empty 405 freeway is nothing but eerie. And with children wondering whether or not it is safe to play outside because of the smoky air, October can be spooky in more ways than one. Another image of the fires continues to catch my eye. As congregants and friends receive news about impending evacuations, they are told to position their car towards the street. A car pointed…

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Break the Glass


I recently read that historically, the Jews of Salonica held a beautiful tradition at the end of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. As the final prayer of Adon Olam began, the melody would transition to a minor tone. The children would tearfully sing, bidding Sukkot adieu. When we begin the week of Sukkot, we attempt to feel joy by sitting in a sukkah, exposed to the vulnerabilities of the outside world. At the end of the holiday season, we do the opposite. Feeling a sense of incredible delight, consumed with frivolity and merriment, we pause and temper our joy by changing…

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When the Sukkah Falls Down


At Sinai Temple’s Dor Chadash (programming and community for families with young children) Sukkot program, the kids made edible Sukkot out of graham crackers, candy and frosting. The little, yummy booths were adorable: chocolate smeared on the “walls”, pretzels serving as branches on top, fruit loops as decorations and sprinkles adorning the whole, messy thing. One little boy carefully carried his sukkah and friends of mine watched as the child’s sukkah wobbled every which way. As little ones do, he tripped over nothing and the entire sukkah collapsed on the floor, one big heap of broken graham crackers. My friends…

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Putting it all Away


As Kol Nidre was about to begin, I looked at my dining room table: still adorned with a red tablecloth, pomegranates, honey pots and apple figurines to symbolize the richness and sweetness of the new year. As we were transitioning to the holiest night of the year, it didn’t seem fitting to keep Rosh Hashana’s decor on the table. I gathered up the passé holiday “pieces” and put it all away. I felt both a sense of melancholy and humility as I walked towards the credenza. Melancholy that another holiday has passed, time continues to rush by, and the hard…

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Challenge Accepted


My son brought home an autobiography. When you’re in kindergarten, an autobiography is filled with pictures. Drawings of his favorite food, a self-portrait, and an elaborate illustration of his family. Each person was characterized perfectly: older sister and younger brother with big smiles, middle brother right in between, and an Abba with a supportive grin. Then, I noticed a caricature of myself. A person with long hair and a wide-open mouth. I asked Zachary, “Why am I the only one with my mouth open?” And without missing a beat he replied, “Because you’re the one who’s always yelling.” My heart…

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