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Posts by Rabbi Nicole Guzik

Cut it out


When preparing challah for Shabbat, we separate a piece of dough, reminiscent of the offering given to the Kohanim. While the act connects us to thousands of years of tradition, there is also something liberating about separating in order to feel more complete. We even offer a blessing during this act of separation. Meaning, it is praiseworthy when we recognize what should remain integrated within our lives and what needs to be thrown away.   In order to feel a sense of wholeness, from what do you need to separate? What needs to be cut out?    For many years…

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Do you feel responsible?


  This week, the world lost someone incredibly special. Hedy Orden was a pillar of our community, someone whom despite every odd placed against her, built a legacy of hope for the Jewish world. Surviving the atrocities of the Holocaust, Hedy and her husband, Ted (zichrono livracha) created a family that embodies a personal mission to ensure the continuity of Judaism and a flourishing state of Israel. Their family spends endless days, months and years finding ways to reinvigorate our communities, aid the distressed and reimagine a Judaism for the next generation.    And yet…my heart is broken because Hedy’s…

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Ventures of Beginning


Recently, thousands of people around the world finished daf yomi. Daf yomi is a seven and a half year cycle of reading a page of Talmud every single day. The idea is that the world is connected through a prism of study, each of us threaded together through our learning and growing.   Now that the cycle is starting over, Facebook and Instagram are bombarded with people wanting to delve into the daf yomi adventure. Rabbis and teachers posting tidbits of learning to keep themselves on track. Podcasts inspiring budding learners to stay committed to this Talmudic endeavor.   Sadly,…

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I’ve Got a Golden Ticket


Winter break was spent introducing my children to my favorite childhood movies. We watched “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and “Home Alone.” This week, my dad and I reveled in glee as the Guzik-Sherman children watched the original, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” And they loved it. Even with the scary oompa loompa songs…they loved it.   But I forgot about the character, Grandpa Joe. Grandpa Joe is seemingly bedridden until Charlie brings home one of Willy Wonka’s five golden tickets. Grandpa Joe holds the ticket in his hand, learns that Charlie needs a companion to the Chocolate Factory, and…

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The Best Time of Your Life


When is the best time of your life? My kids love the ride at every amusement park that allows them to be the “driver”. When they can sit in cars they maneuver, steer the wheel, push the gas and crash into someone else. At the end, at some parks, my children even receive a license for driving. And their reaction is always the same, “I can’t wait until I grow up!” And my internal reaction is always the same, “You want to grow older and every adult…we just try to find ways to grow…younger.” Meaning, children desire later bedtimes and…

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Light is Your Legacy


Our world feels very dark. The murders that took place at the kosher supermarket in New Jersey, the desecration of Nessah Synagogue here in Beverly Hills, three college students attacked for being Jewish at Indiana University, and most recently, vandalism and graffiti at American Jewish University, among other Jewish institutions.    Hate begets hate. Insecurity and ignorance rise from the shadows and breed malice and fear.    But if there is one lesson to be gleaned from the Jewish people it is this:   The darkness of the world only magnifies our sparks of light. The light of blessing. The…

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Where’s Home?


Jonathan Safran Foer writes, “The strangest thing to reencounter was the home where I lived for the first nine years of life….I was sure I’d have strong feelings revisiting it for the first time in decades, but it was merely interesting, and I was happy enough to leave after ten minutes….Maybe home, in the end, is just a place.”   My co-worker remarked that she went “home” for Thanksgiving, traveling to the east coast for a much-needed vacation. However, upon her return she realized that her childhood house no longer connotated the feeling of home. Rather, she felt much more…

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Don’t Wait


Nir Rubin, IDF veteran begged the 200 Sinai Temple members sitting before him, “If you need to say thank you to someone, don’t wait. You may never get another chance.”   He painted a heartbreaking picture of his life as a soldier during the Second Lebanon War. A medic and sharpshooter in the Golani Brigade, Nir was tasked with checking the identities of fallen soldiers in Bint Jbei. His wedding was just one week away. He checked one soldier. He checked the next. When he came to the third, Nir passed his flashlight over the deceased soldier’s face. He checked…

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Many thanks for all of you


At Pico Union Project’s Faithsgiving, hundreds of Angelenos stood in line waiting to fill baskets with turkey, vegetables and all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner. If you stopped to think about the hunger and amount of need, one night feel paralyzed by sadness. But Craig Taubman and PUP wouldn’t allow anyone to stand still. Music blaring from the stage, dancing, singing, children decorating cookies and cards, playing in bounce houses, everyone having the time of their lives. The theme was clearly: dignity. It is clear that hard times exist on the shoulders of many dwelling around us. But Craig’s message…

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The Elevator


Headed to a meeting outside of the synagogue, I entered an elevator. An elevator that is pre-programmed to reach your designated floor. An elevator with no buttons indicating where you plan to go. A few of us entered the elevator and like clockwork, we all reached for the panel where buttons usually exist. With sheepish laughter, we looked at each other and shrugged. “Habit”, I said. Another gentleman sagely offered, “I guess we have no choice but to take this journey together.” How wise and how true. The elevator ride was a few short minutes, but he was correct. Nowhere…

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