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A Bisl Torah

Stones of Strength


Our tour guide in Jerusalem asked us to look closely at the stones of the Kotel. I have been to the Western Wall on numerous occasions and wondered if he was referring to the historical dating of the large Herodian stones or some other fact regarding the second Temple period. But he wasn’t asking us to open up a history book. He repeated, “Look closely. The stones were placed one on top of one other in such a way to give the illusion that the wall will never topple over on us.” So I looked closer. Each stone is placed…

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A Bit of Tweaking


I don’t own a vision board, but I like the concept. The idea is to visually display your goals and where you hope life will lead. Want that career boost? Paint the picture of how you will get there. Dream of a better relationship? Illustrate commitment and dedication. Create a masterpiece of the life you want and instead of admiring the art, live it. It sounds so easy. But many of us understand that life is filled with obstacles, bumps in the road that cause our masterpiece to look like buckets of paint smeared across a page. There is no…

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Resilience


On the way to my sister’s home in Chatsworth, my kids noticed the charred areas along the Sepulveda Pass. Areas once filled with brush; because of the fires, filled with…nothing. Just nothing. We were shocked by the changes in scenery and my daughter couldn’t help but notice a few meager bushes dotting the perimeter of where the fires were. She said, “Mommy, do you know which color is the most important in the world?” I replied, “I have no idea.” She responded, “It has to be green. Green is what makes the world grow.” And I understood what she meant….

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How Can I Help?


“How can I help?” When Sinai Temple and Sinai Akiba Academy sent out emails praying for those affected by the recent fires, there was an outpouring of love and support. Beds, meals, water, volunteers to make phone calls, assistance and donations to firefighters and first responders, the list goes on and on. Fortunately, very few people needed our services. However, in the case in which help was needed, this community was proactive in asking, “How can I help?” This is community. This is a synagogue. I know this is true of so many people across Los Angeles. It was both…

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Who Are You?


This week’s Bisl Torah is featured in the Jewish Journal’s Table for Five. In “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the Caterpillar stares at Alice and asks, “Who … are … you?” And Alice replies, “I hardly know. At least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.” Alice echoes what many of us feel daily: We think we know who we are and then life throws us a curve ball — a new job or the loss of a job, a different role in the family,…

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Pumpkin Pie


Our Thanksgiving table would not be the same without pumpkin pie. We include two different kinds: one homemade and one from Eilat Bakery. Plenty of other items adorn the table but it feels as if Thanksgiving isn’t complete unless the meal is finished off with a huge slice of orange, gooey deliciousness. Do you know how pumpkin pie became a featured staple of the Thanksgiving feast? Many historians attribute the introduction of pumpkin pie (the way we know it) to Sarah Josepha Hale, a widow, poet, editor, author, and champion of women’s education in the 1800s. She is known as…

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So Predictable


Dr. Alicia Lieberman is a scientist that studies the growing brains of babies in utero through age three. At the General Assembly in Los Angeles, she explained that when babies engage in ritual, predictable rituals, the comfort of the reoccurring experience allows the child to learn in the most surprising and unimaginable ways. Meaningful ritual: knowing that a parent will tuck you in at night, listening to the same music while pregnant and then, again while playing with your child, taking moments every day to share statements of gratitude and blessing. It may be neuroscience. But it is also very…

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With Gratitude


My father is a movie star. My grandfather worked on the movie set of Plymouth Adventure. The story depicts the journey of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower. Please don’t ask me about the historical validity of the events…as a family, we focus on one scene and one scene only. The cast of the movie was missing one very important character: Oceanus Hopkins, the first baby born on the Mayflower. Alas, a star was born. My father was just a few weeks old, held the stage for a good fifteen seconds, and every Thanksgiving, our holiday dinner officially begins with watching…

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White Lies


It’s a great scene in the Torah: angels of the Lord visit Abraham and Sarah. One of the divine emissaries explains that in one year’s time, Sarah will have a son. Sarah laughs to herself and says, “Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment—with my husband so old?” But the angel of God says back to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am?’” The angel switches the blame. Sarah references her husband’s old age, but the angel tells Abraham that Sarah only mentions her own feeble body….

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Jet Lag


Just arriving home from Philadelphia, our children reminded us what it feels like to be parents to newborn babies. The past two nights, the kids have been wide awake at 3am, hungry for breakfast, leading their blurry-eyed mother and father from game to game, activity to activity, exclaiming every few moments, “Look how dark it is outside!” And we respond with irritation and fatigue, “We know…don’t you want to go back to bed?” And in trying to find the silver lining of this exhausting experience, I started to distinguish the sounds of early morning from the sounds of day. Sounds…

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