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A Bisl Torah

Coping


The days are getting darker. Literally, the sun sets in the early afternoon and figuratively, it is hard to imagine the reality of the world in which we live. But just as the winter months eventually fade into spring, so too this darkness is not meant to last forever. We watch the rise in Covid deaths and know these next weeks and months will be difficult, tragic for many. And yet, in the same breath, there is the clarion call of a vaccine that may be rolled out within days. How does one cope while living in excruciating limbo? How…

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The Happy Place


Century City is offering a drive through parking lot experience called “The Happy Place”. We jumped at the chance to safely take our children…anywhere. The drive through lasted about ten minutes: a series of instagrammable scenes to help convey the definition of one’s happy place. A bathtub overflowing with bubbles, candy lane, a field of flowers, unicorn crossings, geographical depictions of beautiful California, and even, an inside your car dance party. Lots of smiles, giggles, and the appropriate end of ride question, “It’s already over?” This week seems to be the opportune time to ask where one’s happy place may…

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Make it Different


A common refrain: Thanksgiving just won’t be the same. Not the same people. Not the same food. Not the same traditions. Heaviness and disappointment blanket each conversation. It is true for many of us. This holiday season does not have the same kind of celebratory feel when we know it is best to stay home, feasting alone or with a much smaller guest list. But perhaps, one of the ways to lift our spirits is by first, acknowledging that things will not be the same. Allow the frustration and sadness to sit within. Not ignoring the pain. Recognizing the bit…

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What do we need?


My mom and I began to discuss Thanksgiving, a favorite holiday among the Guzik family. Usually, the dining room is bursting with relatives, new friends, tons of food, a warm fire giving the illusion that we experience seasons in California. Last year, my brother and sister-in-law announced their engagement and life felt content, a moment preserved in time. This year, the planning is different. A slim guest list, plans to eat al fresco, donned masks, and limited exposure to the people we love the most. Past Thanksgivings, we baked pumpkin and brownie pies and traditionally, picked up apple, pecan, cherry…

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Shameful Acts


As I have watched the election unfold, I have done exactly what I vowed not to do: scroll through Facebook and Instagram. And while many comments call for action and advocate for a better world, others directly shame people, attack “friends”, and amplify hateful speech and dangerous rhetoric. Whatever this day brings, I am reminded of this important verse from our tradition: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove your countryman so you will not be guilty because of him.” Meaning, don’t harbor hate because you have something to say to someone with whom you disagree. Civil…

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Please, face to face


In 2004, Julia Wood, Professor of Communications and Humanities offered a new definition for communication. She deconstructed communication as “…a systemic process in which individuals interact with and through symbols to create and interpret meanings.” In her explanation there is a process of expressing through reaction. Meaning, I say something to you, you interpret what I am saying, your interpretation informs your reaction, and your reaction continues the process of communicating. However, when I say something to you, speaking is only one crumb of the pie. Your interpretation is based on my tone, facial expression, style of dress, whether I…

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Those Shtiebel Moments


A dear congregant gifted me a beautiful memoir about her father growing up Poland during the Shoah. Prior to the onset of the war, her father described the ways in which religious men would frequent the “shtiebel.” He explained that although the shtiebel was a place for prayer, it was also a place where men flocked to schmooze, eat, give and take advice, and listen to each other. I miss the idea of the shtiebel. In a more mundane sense, I miss the coffee room at work, the lounge or lobby in office buildings, a place where people congregate to…

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Taco Tuesday


Our family went around the table to discuss our favorite Jewish holiday. My husband is rare in naming Yom Kippur. I love Sukkot. Our older children gave solid explanations for Channukah and Passover. And finally, with a serious expression, our youngest proclaimed, “My favorite holiday is Taco Tuesday.” Through our laughter, my husband and I can’t decide if we failed or succeeded in our passing down of Jewish knowledge. But we optimistically concluded that in our home, ritual reigns. Our youngest craves repetition. And it has been the Jewish calendar that helps regulate the tenor of the home: what we…

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Is the roof falling in?


Erez and I developed a new pattern upon entering and sitting in our sukkah. We look around, sideways, and eventually upwards. One of us says, “I love this sukkah.” The other responds, “Yeah, me too…I hope the roof doesn’t fall while we eat.” And we continue passing out napkins and water as if it is normal to remark that the roof might fall in during the meal. In fact, we settle further into our seats, comfortable with the understanding that we will know what to do if indeed the “ceiling” caves in. Sukkot is a holiday in which we remember…

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