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A Bisl Torah

I Want Both


I want both. Last week, my baby had croup. For those of you that have experienced croup, it’s miserable. A virus that causes wheezing and gasping for breath. Between the doctor visits and sitting near a steamy shower, the most comforting position is being held upright, rocking and swaying, rocking and swaying. And so, I did. I held my baby, rocking and swaying, rocking and swaying. All the while, lullabies playing, lights turned low, and images of stars and moons flashing across the ceiling—courtesy of a nightlight turtle that displays comets and shooting stars in purple, green and orange. My…

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Who Am I?


This Bisl Torah was featured in “The Times of Israel”: Healing lies within remembering who we are. My recent interactions display a common theme. “Rabbi, after my husband passed away, I don’t know who I am anymore.” “Now that my children have moved out of the house, my purpose is gone.” “All of my friends are starting a family; I am no longer sure of where I belong.” “Since the divorce, my community no longer looks the same.” The theme being: as life plays out, we all have shifts in our identity and struggle with how to move forward. The…

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A Prayer for the Families of the Victims in the Manchester Bombing


R’bono shel Olam, Master of the Universe, do not allow our hearts to become complacent. We cannot afford to turn off the televisions or shut off our phones. Our babies—young women, men and children have been heart wrenchingly torn from this world because another a human being is unable to comprehend the miracle that we call life. God, teach us to respond. God, push us to reach out. When we see a picture of one of your murdered children, may we whisper prayers of strength for their loved ones and solace for their soul. Creator of all, do not let…

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Rock the Boat


This past Wednesday, a personal dream came true. I met Andrea Zuckerman from the show, 90210. For several years, I would sit with my father and sister and then later my UCLA roommates and watch Brenda, Brandon, Dylan, Kelly, Donna, David, Steve and Andrea learn about high school, the ups and downs of adolescence, and how to transform friendships into family. Ask anyone close to me…I loved 90210 and even sneak in a rerun here and there. Gabrielle Carteris, the woman that played Andrea, spoke at the American Jewish University Women’s luncheon. AJU honored Sinai Temple’s very own, Heidi Monkarsh. …

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24 Hours of Prayers


I recently taught a class in which a group of women discussed what distracts us when we pray. At first, the answers were benign: our children, someone else’s child, the sounds of the cars outside, our own personal worries, etc. But the conversation shifted and someone said, “Other women distract me when I pray.” Pushed further, the answer resonated with almost every woman around the table. When another woman walks into the synagogue, pretty harsh questions run through our mind: “Why did she choose to wear that dress with those shoes?”  “Doesn’t her skirt look a little short?” Or perhaps…

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Settling In


Doesn’t it always feel busy? My husband and I have a favorite conversation: remarking on the busy nature of the past few months and predicting that the following weeks are sure to be less chaotic. I bite my tongue as I watch personal and professional obligations rush through the door and my calendar fill up. One, two, three kids get sick and life in its most predictable way, takes over. Last night we looked at each other and one of us said, “I thought things were supposed to settle down.” And the other responded, “I don’t think life ever settles…

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The Time In Between


I am writing this bisl at 4:00am. Jet lag due to arriving home just last night from Krakow. A long day of over twenty hours of travel. And yet, writing in the early morning feels as if I stand between two worlds: a world of borrowed time, appreciation and gratitude and a world of practicality, efficiency and routine. The first world has fewer travelers and it’s often in these liminal moments where we wish the jet lag hit us more often. I can hear the wind rushing outside. The deep breathing of my sleeping family soothes me. I’m reminded of…

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Never Again


When we utter the words, “Never Again,” what is our intention? To pay homage to the six million Jewish souls that perished in the Holocaust…yes. To commit ourselves to understanding the waxing and waning and ever present current of anti-Semitism…yes. To teach our babies about the horrors of World War II and the life and rich Jewish culture that pervaded Europe pre-1939…yes. To hold memory and teach memory…yes. Sinai Temple Sisterhood has brought our first adult delegation of over forty people to Krakow, Lublin and Warsaw. We pledge, “Never Again.” Franta Bass was a child that perished in Auschwitz. Franta…

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It All Tastes Like Passover


It all tastes like Passover. You know exactly what I mean. The potato chips taste like the pretend cereal which tastes like the pretend yogurt which tastes like the pretend chocolate chip cookies. It all tastes the same. Bland, flavorless, trying so hard to be something it’s not. It all tastes like Passover. Which is unfortunate. Passover is a bright, vibrant holiday with rich meaning, significance and story. It is our holiday of freedom and reminds us to connect with the oppressed and the silenced. So why do we let the food consume the messages of persistence and determination? But…

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The Power of Light


So many of our rituals start and end with light. Shabbat begins with the lighting of candles and ends with the flickering flames of Havdalah. On Passover we begin the festival with bedikat chametz, the searching of our homes for chametz with the light of a small candle to lead the way. As we search out leavened bread with a candle, so too we are meant to search out the pride, egotism, and haughtiness that weigh down our souls. As I mentioned this concept to a friend, she explained that it sounds like a ritual celebrated during the Persian New…

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