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A Bisl Torah

To Heal and Be Healed


January marks the month in which we commemorate the death of beloved Jewish musician Debbie Friedman. I am deeply touched by her canon of liturgical compositions. Most notably, her misheberach, her prayer for healing, provides a space for pain to be expressed and courage to be accessed.

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Let It Rain


There was a smile on the face of discerning congregants at shul while Cantor Feldman sang, “Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGashem.” The words translate as, “The one who causes the wind to blow, and the rain to fall.” The Cantor recites these words during the Amidah, praying for wind and rain to come in its proper season. We smiled, because, well, this time, the prayer worked. Really well.

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Have a Merry Life


My family spent Hanukkah and Christmas Day skiing in Big Bear. It was hard for me to watch so many people working on their holiday. From the people fitting us for our helmets to those helping us on and off the ski lifts, the mountain was filled with employees.

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Which Miracle?


With the way the Jewish calendar falls this year, our family is traveling almost all of Hanukkah. We meticulously packed our Hanukkiah, candles, and matches, wondering where exactly our celebrations would take place. Would there be a window to let others see the dancing lights? Perhaps we’d witness other stealthy guests lighting their hannukiyot, hidden within their rooms.

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No White Elephant


In our extended family, the “White Elephant” game is a fan favorite. The idea is to bring an undesirable gift from home and regift it, eventually leaving with something that is somewhat better than what you came with. As we left the family party, my son said to me, “Mommy, can we play White Elephant at my 7th birthday party?” Clearly, the tradition will continue with the next generation.

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Playing the Lottery


Standing in a grocery store, I found myself with an extra dollar in my pocket. I looked around and, on a whim, decided to buy a lottery ticket. Sticking the ticket in my wallet, I didn’t spend much time thinking about my purchase.

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Preparing for Light


The Jewish month of Kislev ushers in Hannukah, the Festival of Lights. Our family spent the last few days dusting off our hannukiyah, cleaning candle wax and making room for the holiday to find a place in our home. Like other holidays, there is preparation. For Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, one prepares their soul, making amends with God, understanding where in our relationships we have fallen short. For Pesach, we prepare our homes, ridding leavened products from refrigerators and pantries to signify an elimination of ego and loftiness. But with Hannukah, the preparation isn’t as formulaic. How does one prepare for light to emerge?

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Stitches


Due to an angry altercation between our son and a baseball, he received several stitches above his eye. He’s completely fine and we’ve now had several conversations about not literally keeping his eye on the ball.

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Showing Up


This week, we memorialized a beloved member of our Sinai Temple community, Bart Kogan. Bart developed so many connections around the country, but each person felt as if they were part of Bart’s family. He had a unique quality of being a leader that lifts someone’s spirits time and time again.

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What Do You Knead?


This week, Sinai Akiba Academy put on their annual challah bake. We gathered, put the various ingredients together to mix our dough and schmoozed while the dough had time to rise. While challah making is a well-known Jewish ritual, I think we forget the mindfulness embedded in this ancient tradition.

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