Menu   

A Bisl Torah

How Does One Remember?


It is the season of memory. We’ve recently emerged from the holiday of Pesach, remembering the exodus from Egypt. Soon after we mark Yom Hashoah, commemorating the millions of Jews that perished under Nazi rule.

Read this post

Beloved Rabbi and Friend


This week, we are mourning the passing of our dear rabbi, colleague, and friend, Rabbi Zvi Dershowitz. For fifty years, he served Sinai Temple. The overarching theme of those that shared at his funeral and shiva was that Rabbi Dershowitz was consistently part of our stories.

Read this post

Unexpected Growth


There is a tree that sits outside our kitchen window. Lacking leaves or any signs of life, I assumed the tree was dead. About six months ago, I considered speaking with our gardeners about uprooting the tree, unsure of its viability and whether the presence of the tree was doing more harm than good. However, I held back from making the verdict. Squirrels and birds would run up its branches and I figured, “Oh well…I’ll leave that decision to another day.”

Read this post

Give a Little More


Like many others around the world, this past Sunday, I watched the Oscars. And while there were many inspiring moments, Michelle Yeoh’s acceptance speech was one of the most moving. Her words continue to reverberate, “And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you, you are ever past your prime. Never give up.” A stark reminder to all of us: no matter our age or stage in life, we always have more to offer, more to create. And perhaps, some of our greatest work is yet to come.

Read this post

Can You Change Your Luck?


Purim is named after the word “pur,” translated as lots or lottery. Haman thought it was great luck that the Jews were to be killed during the month of Adar, the month in which Moses died. Clearly a sign in Haman’s eyes that the Jews would be destroyed. But as the Talmud seems to indicate, good luck is in the eye of the beholder. The 7th of Adar is also Moses’ birthdate, a great sign of joy for the Jewish people. As Haman is sure his path is filled with success and riches, the question remains: how much of life is really in our control?

Read this post

We’re Still Here


In just a few days, we will be celebrating one of the most joyous Jewish holidays, Purim. We wear costumes, eat hamantaschen, and dance with frivolity. And yet, the holiday is one woven with a serious story. Queen Esther is chosen to save the Jewish people from impending doom. She and Mordecai are unsure of the King’s approach. Will he take sides with the evil Haman or will Esther’s courage nudge the King to tip the scales towards a righteous victory?

Read this post

Growing in Love


There is a foundational element of love that continues to intrigue me. The Torah reads, “You shall not hate your kinfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him.” Meaning, hatred of another is avoided if we are willing to offer constructive feedback and criticism. A step further: love between two people is protected, sustained, and even nourished when we both offer and accept rebuke. So maybe the movie is incorrect. Love does mean having to say you’re sorry…and even letting someone know when they are meant to offer an apology.

Read this post

Storytelling


This past Sunday, our Sinai Temple religious school hosted a brunch honoring Holocaust Survivors in the Los Angeles community. This brunch, organized by Religious School Director, Danielle Kassin, and her team of wonderful volunteers, is a true highlight. For years, the ballroom was filled with the sounds of storytelling: survivors sharing their journeys with our seventh grade students and other community members. This year, stories were shared, but as I looked at the room, the difference was obvious. Survivors no longer filled the capacity of the room. Less people sat at the tables. Our children are reaching a time in which survivors will no longer walk this earth.

Read this post

Every Word Counts


The past few days, I have been teaching our 5th and 6th graders. In one session, we discussed how an unintended mispronunciation of a Hebrew word might completely change a sentence. In another session, we discussed how someone’s tone might have a lingering, negative impact. Even if just one word is said sarcastically, it is often difficult deciphering what was heard versus what was meant. Our words matter—the ones we say and the ones we don’t.

Read this post

Striking a Match


This past Sunday was my Nana’s unveiling. It was a small group, intimate and meaningful. In the days leading up to the ceremony, memories of Nana began to wash over me. Nana was superstitious and believed in signs. She firmly believed the soul could be revealed in the here and now. Just after she died, flowers bloomed in my garden; the first was a yellow rose. Yellow roses were her favorite. Once, when I was driving, I saw a shop sign that read, Nana Jackie. Clear indications that I am meant to feel her presence. But in the past few months, as I have been missing her more and more, it’s been harder and harder to pinpoint where and how she is reaching me from the world beyond.

Read this post