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Posts by Rabbi Nicole Guzik

Does the Soul Survive?


In my various conversations with congregants, this question resurfaces time and time again. After the body quiets, does the soul live on? Basically, what happens after you die? Judaism offers a variety of answers. Dr. Eitan Fishbane, associate professor of Jewish Thought at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America explains that while “we are so deeply embodied, that is not the true essence of who we are.” Meaning, in this world, we are taught to focus on our physical bodies. How we look, what we wear, what we eat and how others perceive our exterior. However, Dr. Fishbane reveals a…

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Run as Fast as You Can


Rabbi Sherman and other delegates from Sinai Temple ran in the Jerusalem marathon. What you may not know is that they ran for a beautiful cause. As their feet pounded the holy stones of the old city, our members held Shalva in the hearts: a respite home and therapy center for children with special needs. Shalva does not discriminate based on religion, ethnicity or gender. All are welcome. As well, each Sinai Temple delegate ran to honor someone important and significant in their lives. Rabbi Sherman and his sister, Nitza ran to honor their brother, Eyal. Eyal is a 35-year-old…

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Elsa, Moana or Vashti?


For the last two Purim carnivals, I dressed up like Queen Elsa. The decision was quite deliberate. A rabbi dressed up like Elsa? Every little girl and boy ran up to me, gave me huge hugs, took photos—and parents proceeded to buy more tickets at their children’s insistence. But this year, I cannot conscionably dress up as a character from a Disney movie. Not because I don’t love “Frozen” or “Moana.” These are two of my favorite movies with characters that have much to teach my 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. But I will save those lessons for another time….

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We All Want To Be Seen


She asked the same questions over and over again. One of our congregants took her eight-year-old daughter to a nearby senior home to visit the Alzheimer’s and dementia unit. One of our clergy members was leading a Shabbat service and our Sinai Temple kids and the members of the senior home listened to the prayers and swayed to the music. An elderly woman leaned over to the little girl and asked, “What’s your name?” The little girl answered. She continued, “How old are you?” The little girl answered. The elderly woman leaned in, offered a smile that lit up the…

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She Spoke, And Her Voice Was Heard


Last week, Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai David wrote the following message to his congregation: “This Shabbat morning, with God’s help, Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn will be offering the drasha at B’nai David – Judea, the Orthodox shul of which I am the senior rabbi. As I am presently on a study trip in Israel, this is not really news. Rabbanit Alissa is the only other member of our clergy. The news is that this is the first time that her words of Torah will be not only inspiring, but they will also be of historic importance. Though not intended or…

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A Stroll Around the Block


This morning I joined a family in their conclusion of shiva, the Jewish week of mourning a loved one. As is the custom, we rose from our chairs and took a stroll around the block. The Rabbinical Assembly offers a beautiful prayer and intention before the walk. These are the words we recited today: “God of spirit and flesh, this family has turned to You for comfort and strength in these days of grief. When the cup of sorrow passed into their hands, Your Presence consoled them. Now they rise up to face the tasks of life once more… For…

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Seasons of Love


How do you measure—measure a year? It is a question that comes up a few times for the Jewish people. Certainly discussed at Rosh Hashana, the birthday of the world, and around this season, the secular new year. So…in the famous words from the musical Rent, “How do you measure a year in the life?” The song gives a few answers. “In daylights-in sunsets, in midnights-in cups of coffee. In inches-in miles, in laughter-in strife.” And it’s true. Go through your Facebook posts, emails, pictures or mental memories. A year is made of trivialities: standing in line at Starbucks and…

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December Dilemma?


For years I was inundated with the term, “The December Dilemma.” For Jewish kids, there was or perhaps is an ingrained notion that celebrating Channukah is inferior and less exciting than celebrating Christmas. And so Channukah became commercialized, more gift focused, and I was often asked to explain the meaning of Channukah in my secular classrooms although I was rarely asked to explain the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. But early on, my parents helped solve this problem. Because I grew up with many non-Jewish friends, I was invited to their homes to help decorate Christmas trees, drink…

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An Entire Hand


Ok…there’s another birthday in the Guzik-Sherman household. Our first born is turning five. An entire hand. I was thinking about the number five in our tradition. The five books of Moses. The chamsa—five fingers that symbolize God’s protective hand; a hand embracing God’s children. But what seems beautiful and different about turning five is knowing that while on one hand, your baby still teeters on toddler hood, she is inching towards that other hand…and you can start to see glimpses of six, seven, eight, nine and ten…such special years of growth, maturity, and independence. Almost every day of Annie as a…

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Why a Ladder?


Many of you know that in March my husband is running the Jerusalem marathon. When he runs the streets of Los Angeles, he refuses to wear headphones, always trying to be aware of the landscape and environment around him. The other day I asked him, “How do you keep going? What motivates you to keep up your pace?” He explained that he constantly encourages himself to run one more block. Not one more mile—in the moment, that goal seems too lofty. One more street light. One more corner. And before he knows it, he has reached his determined destination…or gone…

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