Menu   

A Bisl Torah

Worry about the silent child


Addressing the silent child (This Bisl Torah was featured in this week’s Jewish Journal) This year, I’m most concerned about the silent son in the haggadah, the child who doesn’t know how to tell the story. It means the rest of us, the ones able to speak up and speak out, are cultivating generations of ignorance. And where there is silence, there is a gaping hole ready to filled by fallacies and lies. I leave soon for my second journey with March of the Living. I will travel with Sinai Temple, primarily parents in our Sinai Akiba Academy community, Jews…

Read this post

Stop watching the show.


As participatory as High Holy Day services may be, it sometimes feels like a show. The pristine nature of the adorned, white Torahs. Everyone dressed to their finest. The operatic, enchanting voice of the Cantor bellowing out Kol Nide. You can’t help but feel like you have entered a theater in which a dramatic story will unfold. But Passover doesn’t lend the same permission to sit back and watch the show. Quite the opposite. On Passover, you are the main actor. You are the show. Andre Neher, French Jewish scholar and philosopher wrote, “No Jew can pass the Haggadah untouched….

Read this post

It’s the little things.


At morning minyan, it is a Sinai Temple tradition for a congregant to give a little singing solo into the concluding words of Aleinu. Every Shabbat, I watch another congregant touch her loved one’s yahrzeit plaque as if she is saying hello. On Pesach, it doesn’t feel like Pesach unless we eat my grandmother’s apricot jelly chicken. In other words, it’s the little things, small acts that often define the greatness of a moment.    As Cher famously sang with Sonny, “Cause it’s the little things that mean a lot….”    Meaning, we notice when the wet towels have mysteriously…

Read this post

Fly me to the moon


The main investor of Beresheet, the Israeli spacecraft that launched in February to land on the moon, addressed 18,000 people at the AIPAC conference. “One day, I wasn’t feeling well, and paramedics checked my blood pressure. I told the paramedics, ‘I am putting a spaceship on the moon!’” The paramedics quizzically looked back at me (as if I was crazy) and said, “We’d better get you to a hospital!” And the investor smiled at the AIPAC attendees and said, “And now the miracle of Beresheet is happening.”     How many of us dream to the point of wanting to land…

Read this post

Did the fire go out?


I am often asked the question: Why did you become a rabbi? Usually, I respond with a story about Jewish identity and what it was like to grow up Jewish in Orange County. But that isn’t actually a real answer. I may have initially chosen my life’s profession because of a triggering event or two. But I continue to be a rabbi because I believe the foundation of Torah and strength of one’s faith helps us navigate and exist within an unpredictable world. And who knew? Within the litany of sacrifices mentioned in this week’s Torah portion, is the direct…

Read this post

Butterflies in Flight


Who saw the butterflies?   This past week, almost a billion butterflies migrated through Southern California on their way up the coast. The “Painted Ladies” flew through the air, catching the eye of adults and children alike. Over and over again, I heard the phrase, “It is so magical.”   What is so magical about butterflies canvasing the sky? What prompts us to pause in our busy lives and watch this natural wonder?   Butterflies remind us of the possibility of transforming into something grander, bigger, filled with a beauty that is difficult to describe. Their bodies are like pieces…

Read this post

Are you part of the community?


An educator recently asked a group of Sinai Temple congregants, “This past week, when did you find a moment in which you felt the strength of community?” Each person answered with a different, poignant, positive response. One of the participants hesitated and asked the educator, “Have you ever had a situation where someone answers in the negative? Meaning, they haven’t experienced community?” The educator paused and realized that in the many instances she offers the question as an icebreaker, each participant is able to declare a moment in their week in which they either witnessed or engaged in a positive…

Read this post

Who Sees You?


Who sees you?   When a caterpillar sheds its cocoon in becoming a butterfly, there is a feeling of release, an exultation of being free. No longer shielded by the cocoon, we admire the raw beauty of the butterfly and its ability to emerge as something new.    Interestingly enough, many of us crave the opposite. A cocoon, an inner sanctuary where we are protected from judgment, criticism, vulnerability, and unpredictability sounds magnificent. A place where we can hide; where we only see ourselves.    But, this kind of place doesn’t exist. And so, we create living, moving cocoons and…

Read this post

Who is Wise?


What is true wisdom?   Last week, our Torah explained that those selected to build the Tabernacle should be chachmei-lev, wise of heart. Not artistic. Not crafty. Not even mathematical or punctilious with detail. Wise of heart.    Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin (1749-1821) asks the question, how does one acquire wisdom in the first place? He replies with a verse from Mishlei: “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.”    My personal take: wisdom is attained when we wake up each morning with wonder, awe, marvel and curiosity. How is it possible that I am awake, breathing and…

Read this post

We find ourselves holding our breath


Our flight home from Florida to Los Angeles was filled with bumps and the kind of drops that caused my stomach to flip more than once. I asked the flight attendance how she felt and she said this flight was in her top three bumpiest rides. My husband thought I was overreacting when I started the chorus of applause when the plane landed…but it was truly a relief when those wheels touched ground.   As I gripped my seat, knuckles turning white, I felt a warm, little hand weave its way into mine. Looking down, my daughter’s arm was fully…

Read this post