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A Bisl Torah

Don’t Change That


It is the season for change. As I was thinking about growth and improvement, I realized something shouldn’t diminish in the process: sense of self. Of all facets of life, being true to my values and morals and honest with who I am…that I want to stay exactly the same. Change allows life to continue, a forward movement. But if we lose ourselves in the process, the tikkun (repair) is for naught. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” We all wish it was that easy. To not allow someone else to chip away…

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Uncertainty


In this season of searching for truths and wondering why and how, enjoy this beautiful musing from Gilda Radner: I wanted a perfect ending, So I sat down to write the book with the ending in place before there even was an ending. Now I’ve learned the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Like my life, this book has ambiguity. Like my life, this book is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next….

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Confessional


It is hard to admit that “confessional” stands at the heart of the High Holy Day season. But throughout the liturgy, we beat our chests, publicly state our misgivings and pray that God has enough compassion this year to guide through repentance and change. To place confession at the core of the holidays means that we each have something to admit; something we’ve concealed and would rather keep unrevealed. Confession conveys that we are all hiding something from someone. The Maharal of Prague said, “All the month of Elul, before eating and sleeping, a person should look into his soul…

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Do You Really Mean It?


This week’s Bisl Torah is featured in the Jewish Journal. There is clearly a right and wrong way of expressing an apology. So many of us experience the latter. A mistake is made, and the following dialogue is used: I am so sorry that you feel this way. As if the anguished party is at fault for feeling anguished. While we seem to understand that expressing our wrongdoing is the “right” thing to do, there is disconnect between knowing and admitting that we just fell short. Our Torah portion delineates the proper way one offers a sacrifice to God. Where…

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Our Week at Camp


This week, Rabbi Sherman and I are serving as Rabbis-in-Residence at Camp Ramah in Ojai, CA. Please enjoy the words that Rabbi Sherman wrote and sent to the families of Ramah campers. Shabbat shalom! While I cannot count the number of times I have put on tefillin, I do know that I have never been witness to or a participant in the process of creating a pair of tefillin…..Until today. How do you answer the question, “What happens at Jewish summer camp?” The typical responses are celebrate Shabbat, learn about and connect to Israel, and create strong Jewish relationships that…

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After the Quake


We just came back from a short trip to San Francisco. We visited many San Francisco landmarks and the tour guides often quipped the same refrain, “We learned our lesson after the quake.” Sometimes it was the 1906 earthquake; other times the 1989 quake was referenced. With each disaster, buildings and bridges were retrofitted to withstand the impending next tremor. It was fascinating listening to the amount of time, effort and talent that goes into protecting lives and sustaining the existing beauty of this northern Californian metropolis. I couldn’t help but think about what it would look like if we…

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The Day He Saw Thunder


My husband likes to tease me, claiming bad weather follows wherever I go. We traveled to Philadelphia, and for several days we experienced nothing but sunny, cloudless skies. The final day of our trip, we barely missed a rainstorm that delayed plane after plane. Arriving home to Los Angeles, it was almost laughable to hear the booms of thunder disrupting our California summer. Erez looked at me and said, “This is your fault.” A downpour commenced and bolts of lightning struck, as water sloshed amongst flip flops and tank tops. Californians are usually unprepared for wild summer weather. Our son,…

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Power of the Sea


A few weeks ago, Sinai Temple took Shabbat to the beach. We prayed in front of the Pacific, overwhelmed by the beauty and awe of God’s creation. I remember wondering what the children of Israel thought as they stood before the Sea of Reeds. The water was a barrier to freedom. An obstacle in escaping the narrowness of Egypt. And yet as the water parted, the sea began to represent infinite possibility and endless opportunity. This week we traveled to the Atlantic, from one majestic ocean to another. Stepping into the clear water, I smiled. God is constantly whispering and…

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You Are Beautiful Inside & Out


This “Bisl” is being featured in the Jewish Journal: I stood in front of a mirror with three of my college girlfriends. The mirror was inscribed with the following: You are beautiful inside and out. The four of us get together once a year and remind each other of what seems so hard to individually internalize. Together, we remember that we are strong, kind, loyal, beautiful women. Our dinners have no agenda. No judgment. We are women that want to raise strong, kind, loyal, beautiful women, but often let personal insecurities speak over what we know to be core to…

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Ice on Fire


There is a story about the Baal Shem Tov and his obsession with light. His disciples knew how much he loved a bright room and so, in his presence, they tried to fill every room with candles. But one day, the students could only muster one candle; no other form of wax or wick was found. The students were unsure of his reaction. Would he be angry? Would he be understanding? The Baal Shem Tov entered the dim room and asked the students to go outside and collect icicles. Taking the icicles, the students arranged the frozen sculptures around the…

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