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A Bisl Torah

Hope Isn’t Lost


Special Edition: As Seen in This Week’s Jewish Journal One of my favorite spots in Philadelphia is the Please Touch Museum. Children run all over, pretending to be train conductors, checking out at the grocery store, and bringing characters to life through various childhood stories. A highlight is watching my own kids “paint the roses red.” They enter the world of Alice in Wonderland, pick up a paintbrush and let the stresses of the outside world melt away as imagination and invention take over. But our children are growing up in a world in which their sacred spaces of play…classrooms,…

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Everyone Has a Story to Tell


Independence Seaport hosts the USS Olympia, known to be the oldest steel-hulled American warship still afloat. Launching in 1892, one of the ship’s biggest claims to fame was returning the Unknown Soldier from WWI for a reburial ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery. On the backside of the Unknown Soldier’s Tomb reads the following, “Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God.” Interestingly enough and perhaps merely coincidental, down the path from the USS Olympia is a fence filled with ordinary locks. Rows after row of locks meets the eye, filled with inscriptions, names, and words of…

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It’s just like riding a bike.


It’s just like riding a bike. The phrase reverberated through my mind as I biked the short distance from Santa Monica to Venice Beach. Wobbling from side to side, I slowly gained confidence as I tried to remember the simple skills needed to maneuver a bicycle. (It has probably been over twenty years.) And for a few short yards, all was fine until other people decided to take the same morning stroll. With each additional person on a bicycle, roller blading, walking or biking on the path, my courage waned and I struggled to gain control of the bike. It’s…

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Messages from Beyond


In the middle of the night, I found myself startled awake. My grandmother, now deceased for several years, appeared in my dream. She didn’t speak. But as other members of my family sat in rows waiting for a performance to begin, she slipped into the seat next to mine, smiling with her bright, pink lipstick hued lips. Dressed head to toe in a beige and black pantsuit, there was no mistaking who this was. My grandmother, of blessed memory wanted to be right by my side. I am a firm believer that the soul continues well past the demise of…

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The Weeping Rock


We took our first family road trip to Zion National Park. Among the incredible views and natural wonders, the fan favorite was a phenomenon known as “Weeping Rock.” A quick ten minutes up a steep ascent leads you to an odd site: a mountain of stone…crying. Droplets of water fall on your head and over and over again, the question is asked: why is the mountain crying? The rangers explain that water has slowly eroded sandstone sitting above Weeping Rock. The water hits seemingly impermeable stone, forcing drops out the sides of the mountain’s wall, causing nonstop crying. In other…

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What are you waiting for?


Erez and I recently spent a wondrous week at Camp Ramah. We taught, schmoozed with campers and counselors, and breathed in the soulful air that only camp provides. One morning, we decided to take a walk into Ojai. Erez runs marathons. I do not. Erez runs miles throughout Los Angeles. I do not. But hill after hill, curve after curve, I was committed to finishing the walk. Getting closer to the half-way mark, directly ahead was the following sign: ROAD CLOSED. Nearly crying, I blurted out, “We are not turning around.” For a few minutes, we debated making the trek…

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Letting Go


Summertime often includes sun-drenched days filled with ice cream dripping down chins, lounging at the beach, and regular routines thrown out the window. And in our home, summer usually means…swimming lessons. My kids take to the water with their distinct personalities. One swims with ease, barely looking over her shoulder to see if we are watching. Another kid jumps in, screaming with glee…but can’t swim a stroke. And finally, one child sticks to the steps, content to stay glued to the side of the pool. That is…until this year. The kid who never leaves the pool’s edge looked at me…

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Look in the Mirror


This week, I had the honor of joining a bride and her family as she immersed in the mikvah. Her grandmothers, mother, aunt and sister showered her with blessings, invoking memories of the past and hopes for the future. The ceremony was poignant, personal, intensely moving. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened as soon as the bride returned to the waiting room. The bride’s mother placed in her hands, a mirror. A large, glistening, silver mirror. The mother whispered to the bride, “Look at yourself. Just look.” I learned it is a Persian tradition for brides to look into…

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The Best is Yet to Come


This week was our middle guy, Zachary’s graduation from preschool. I bawled as I watched him fiercely hug his friends. My eyes teared up as we compared photos of Zachy at age 2 and now, Zachy at age 5. And I could barely hold it together when his teachers placed a tallit over his head and blessed him. But I wasn’t crying because of an ending. I was crying because of the gratitude I feel in Zachary’s ability to reach this day. A few years ago, I told a friend that I wished “time would stop.” And her response: “No,…

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Pushing through the Clouds


Pushing through the Clouds It seems like that kind of week. Looming deadlines, last minute issues, trying to get everything done before the end of the school year. A feeling in the air of mixed anticipation and exhaustion. Friends, family, and community members expressing the same sentiment: A little bit of June gloom has seeped into life and there is a natural wistfulness for the sun to shine through the clouds. Sometimes, our mental and spiritual quotient is spent on Monday and Shabbat feels very far away. The question becomes, “Where does one refuel?” How do we sustain our spirit…

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