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Posts by Rabbi Nicole Guzik

Can You Really Do It All?


Gary Keller, author of the best-selling book “What’s Your One Thing?” says we shouldn’t focus on achieving more than one task at a time. Multitasking just means that we are probably not giving 100% to each task we are managing. It is hard advice for many of us. In attempting to wear several hats, how does one not multitask? Rather, he says, concentrate on one thing at a time and give that “one thing” your very all. Your undivided attention. Complete focus and care. It’s an important lesson for all of us. Yes, we may be able to answer emails…

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Winter Blues


In just a few days, we will celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the holiday that is considered the “New Year” for the trees. The 15th of Shevat was meant to separate the year in terms of agricultural cycles. Even in California, the air is crisp. It is hard to imagine celebrating the abundance of nature in a time in which the ground is frigid and little green is seen across the country. Wouldn’t it seem better to commemorate this holiday in spring, when the scenery is lush? Rashi explains that as most of the seasonal rain has come, this is the exact…

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Check Your Ego at the Door


One of my favorite lines in the Torah is offered this week. On behalf of God, Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh and implore, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?” Rashi explains that the word “humble” relates in Hebrew to the word “poor”. Meaning, Pharaoh cannot conceive of being perceived as lowly or destitute before the Great Almighty. Humility and vulnerability are qualities worse than death itself. In some ways, I think many of us understand the conundrum. How much easier should it be to admit our mistakes, wrongdoing, and faults? Why is it so difficult to relent and…

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What’s Your Story?


Reading bedtime stories to our children is a favorite ritual of any parent. We are cognizant that show and tell is the greatest way of teaching. The sole purpose of our Passover Seder is to entertain the children through the Exodus narrative. The rituals are the props of the theater presented before us. Our tradition commands us to tell our own story, but before we can narrate, we must be able to listen to the stories that came before us. Every Jewish child grows up understanding the Exodus because we continue to tell it. By Kindergarten, most children can recite…

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Friendships and Miracles


We are on the cusp of celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In thinking about the legacy of this modern-day prophet, I researched some of the early interactions between Dr. King and theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel. King and Heschel are known for their joint passion and activism, standing side by side to improve civil rights. In Moment Magazine, Heschel’s daughter Susannah writes the following, “My father’s relationship with Dr. King felt a little miraculous. My father went to Chicago to give a speech at a conference on religion and race that had been organized by the National…

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Got Chutzpah?


I just arrived home in Los Angeles from Israel. I have never seen a more dissatisfied nation. I couldn’t be happier. In an interview, Shimon Peres, z’l was quoted as saying the following, “Today you live 80 years. Two hundred years ago, you lived 40. What you have today, a king didn’t have. When a king had a toothache, he was crying like a baby. He didn’t have running water or a telephone. But the more we have, the more we want. Dissatisfaction: that is permanent.” In Israel, we met with a variety of people that can’t sit still. A…

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Stones of Strength


Our tour guide in Jerusalem asked us to look closely at the stones of the Kotel. I have been to the Western Wall on numerous occasions and wondered if he was referring to the historical dating of the large Herodian stones or some other fact regarding the second Temple period. But he wasn’t asking us to open up a history book. He repeated, “Look closely. The stones were placed one on top of one other in such a way to give the illusion that the wall will never topple over on us.” So I looked closer. Each stone is placed…

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A Bit of Tweaking


I don’t own a vision board, but I like the concept. The idea is to visually display your goals and where you hope life will lead. Want that career boost? Paint the picture of how you will get there. Dream of a better relationship? Illustrate commitment and dedication. Create a masterpiece of the life you want and instead of admiring the art, live it. It sounds so easy. But many of us understand that life is filled with obstacles, bumps in the road that cause our masterpiece to look like buckets of paint smeared across a page. There is no…

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Resilience


On the way to my sister’s home in Chatsworth, my kids noticed the charred areas along the Sepulveda Pass. Areas once filled with brush; because of the fires, filled with…nothing. Just nothing. We were shocked by the changes in scenery and my daughter couldn’t help but notice a few meager bushes dotting the perimeter of where the fires were. She said, “Mommy, do you know which color is the most important in the world?” I replied, “I have no idea.” She responded, “It has to be green. Green is what makes the world grow.” And I understood what she meant….

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How Can I Help?


“How can I help?” When Sinai Temple and Sinai Akiba Academy sent out emails praying for those affected by the recent fires, there was an outpouring of love and support. Beds, meals, water, volunteers to make phone calls, assistance and donations to firefighters and first responders, the list goes on and on. Fortunately, very few people needed our services. However, in the case in which help was needed, this community was proactive in asking, “How can I help?” This is community. This is a synagogue. I know this is true of so many people across Los Angeles. It was both…

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