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A Bisl Torah

The Road to Hana


Ten years ago, Erez and I took our honeymoon in Maui. As part of the week’s excursions, we drove the road to Hana. As explained, the road to Hana includes many breathtaking views, waterfalls, spots to pause and recognize God’s beauty. But repeatedly, the guidebooks warn: The road to Hana is not about getting to Hana. The road to Hana is about enjoying the journey. Erez and I didn’t heed the warning. We were anxious to see what Hana was; where the road would end. And we were deeply disappointed. Instead of really taking in each sight, we rushed the…

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Who Makes Miracles?


In one of my classes at Sinai, we explored the question, “Who has the power to enact a miracle?” We spoke about God, the example of Moses splitting the Sea of Reeds, and even pointing to the beginning of Creation as the greatest miracle of all. But then we read about Nachshon, a mere human being willing to test the waters, the first person to step into the Sea of Reeds before it split. The passage explains that the water rose to Nachshon’s nose before the miracle of the splitting of the sea begins to take place. But we all…

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March of the Living–A Unique Journey


I was asked why this March of the Living was different than past trips to Poland. Each trip is special. This journey was unique because we traveled with the Steinberg family. Stuart, Evie, Jake and Paige Steinberg joined our Sinai Temple delegation and shared with us, the story of Max, their beloved son and brother. And they shared themselves, adding their hearts to our Sinai Temple family. Years prior, Jake and Paige decided to go on Birthright and urged their brother, Max to join the trip. The three siblings were touched and transformed by Israel in different ways. But for…

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The Tears of Children


Rain poured from the heavens as our Sinai Temple-Sinai Akiba Academy March of the Living delegation visited Zbilagovska Gora, the place where the Nazis murdered 8,000 Jews, including 800 children. One by one, the Jews were forced to undress, line up, and walk down into mass graves awaiting the gunfire from SS soldiers. Once one row was shot, some people still moving, the next row of Jews lay down for the killing to continue. We held the pictures of children murdered in the Shoah and shared their names. The name I held was Anna Glinberg, age 3. A mere baby…

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So many crumbs.


A Bisl Torah (Passover edition) So many crumbs One of the purposes of the Passover holiday is to rid one’s house of crumbs. For days we engage in bedikat chametz, the searching out of leavened products. For Jewish parents everywhere, it’s the perfect excuse to turn over the couch cushions, flip the rug, look through the crevices in the car seats and vacuum every annoying Cheerio that threatens the hygiene of our homes. And finally Passover arrives, the house looks immaculate and this Jewish parent thing doesn’t seem so hard. But how foolish. Because once Passover eve begins and the…

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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…

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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….

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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…

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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…

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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…

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