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Posts by Rabbi Nicole Guzik

Do you like your name?


What kind of name do you hope to gain in this world? Are you known as a leader, thinker, doer, source of compassion, gossiper, kvetcher, change maker, well of goodness or blessing? The Midrash tells us that when God desired to create the first human being, God consulted the angels. God asked, “Shall we make human beings?” They responded, “What will they be like?” God said, “Well, their wisdom will be greater than yours.” How did God prove it? God assembled all of the animals and asked the angels to name them. The angels were perplexed. But the first human,…

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The Time Capsule


When we were kids, my siblings and I created a time capsule. We put in pictures of ourselves, favorite phrases and sayings of 1989, magazines and newspapers, and a list of the books we enjoyed reading. And we included letters to ourselves, declaring what we wanted to be when we grew up and grand plans for the future. Who knows exactly where that time capsule is now…I am not sure if it even matters. It feels special looking back, remembering what felt important to freeze in time, wondering what our 30 something year old selves would say to their childlike…

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Tales of Gardening


Our family decided to plant a garden. For those that know me, I am not a gardener. I enjoy purchasing roses of different colors and displaying the beauty on our Shabbat dinner table. But as we determined ways to spend our time at home, gardening seemed like a way to distract our minds from the confusion and chaos of the outside world. Some sunflower seeds. A ton of soil. Water each day and a bunch of sunlight. Each day, my family walks by our little patch and remarks on the status of the seedlings. Sometimes, the greenery seems wilted, other…

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I’m really ready


When your child is in zoom school, the silver lining is watching them participate in class. The last few days, the kindergarten practiced their end of the year song, belting out: The future’s lookin’ good to me. I’m ready to go! I’m ready to go! Yeah, the future’s lookin’ good to me. I am ready as I can be. My time has come. I’m on my way. I’m really ready. This is the day. I worked so hard to make it so. Now I’m ready. I’m ready to go! Tears formed when I heard my son repeat the words…I’m really…

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Just listen


When we watched the rocket launch last week, my son remarked, “I wonder if the rocket is going to meet God.” His curiosity has been with me all week. From beyond our own atmosphere, what kind of view does God have of earth? A blurring of reality, unable to differentiate between those who hate and those who are hated or a world in which human beings speak so loudly over each other, it is impossible to identify anything past the buzzing of ego and self-righteousness. I am not sure which view is better. My sense is that if God is…

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Am I Live?


In this virtual programming world, there’s a new question many of us ask without realizing it: Am I live? We say this phrase in the context of whether or not the entire world can see us online. These words transition us from authentic beings to whomever we want the camera to see; whichever piece of our lives we’re ready to reveal. Hair brushed, makeup on, smiles big…going live doesn’t necessarily mean the online world sees the reality of our living world. We present what we want to present; not always showing what’s really taking place beyond the screen. And yet…

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Smile harder


You’re never fully dressed without a smile. About two weeks ago, we received the notice that adults and children over age two are advised to wear masks outside. It’s an emotional experience to put a mask on your child, normalizing a walk around the neighborhood with the donning of protective gear. But the hardest part wasn’t enacting a safety precaution. I’ve come to take for granted the smiles people offer when they see children playing. Those smiles are sometimes smiles of parental commiseration, smiles of shared joy over simple pleasures, smiles of neighbors living vicariously through the innocence of little…

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Mama said there’ll be days like this


“Mama said there’ll be days like this, There’ll be days like this, mama said. Mama said there’ll be days like this There’ll be days like this, my mama said.” I think the Shirelles were referring to that lovesick feeling many of us get when thinking about our crush. The butterflies, the nervous giggles, an inability to focus on anything else. Or the aching for something we don’t yet have. These same lyrics reverberate as we wander through these endlessly long days. Interminable days that fold into an uncontrollable time that ironically feels like a run-away train. Such odd, strange feelings….

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You sound like Grandma


In our new morning routine, I play the role of Henry’s teacher from 8:30-9:30am. We color, build, garden, learn letters and do puzzles. In a way, this hour serves as my respite from the outside world. For a few minutes, his silly mannerisms and eagerness help me gain hope and faith in what’s to come. We all need a little push to begin our day and he nudges me in the right direction. As Henry was coloring, I said something about his picture. I honestly don’t remember what I said. But he looked at me and exclaimed, “That’s exactly what…

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Stop and see the roses


Look at so many Facebook and Instagram posts. You will see picture after picture of people’s gardens, patches of wildflowers discovered on someone’s walk, and roses. So many roses. As part of our new family quarantine rituals, we go on evening strolls. The streets of Los Angeles feel like the streets of Jerusalem. So many people walking, biking, leisurely taking in the sounds of chirping birds and children laughing. We spend many of these walks staring at the roses that line the streets of Westwood. White, red, yellow, pink…roses that may have always been there but roses we feel like…

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