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Posts by Rabbi Nicole Guzik

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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Bids for Connection


Every Thursday I take my 10 month old to a wonderful Parent n’ Me class through the Sinai Akiba Parenting Center. Our teacher, Julia Kantor, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist engages our babies through play, story, observation and song. But at the end of every class is an opportunity for the parents to learn something new—about our children, our relationships, ourselves. I just never expected to learn something about God as well. Julia introduced the idea, “bids for connection.” She explained that Drs. John and Julie Gottman have studied couples’ behaviors for over thirty years, pre and post having children….

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Did You Get What You Need?


There are high hopes, high expectations around the holidays. Perfecting recipes, reuniting with loved ones and good friends, spending quality time together and reflecting on what you’re most grateful for. But then you wake up and remember, nothing goes as expected. The Yiddish phrase reads, “Human beings plan and God laughs.” The pie didn’t set, there was back to back traffic on the 405, someone spilled the wine, the kids were noisy, and conversation went awry. Oh yeah, you also overslept during the Black Friday sales. Instead of burrowing back into bed, our faith encourages us to seize the day,…

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Skipping A Page


Rushing has become normative behavior. We rush to work, rush to put dinner on the table, rush to finish the chores, and rush to meet a deadline. Funny thing is, rushing doesn’t necessarily mean productivity. Often the faster we work, the less detailed, nuanced and thoughtful is the final outcome. Bedtime with my children is a favorite example. My almost five year knows all of our tricks. If it feels as if the story she has chosen to read is ridiculously long and unending, admittedly, I try to skip a page here and there. My heart is racing, wondering when…

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I’ll Save You A Seat


This week has been difficult and emotionally exhausting for our country. No matter where we stand on the political spectrum, no matter whom we voted for, it is clear there is a deep seeded fear of the “other”. The objection to reach out, lean in, inquire, probe, and wonder why someone feels or acts differently than we do is antithetical to the Jewish faith. For thousands of years, Jews question, converse, debate, argue and reason with those that do not necessarily view the world with a similar lens. What is our Jewish obligation? To extend a hand, ear and heart…

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Lean on Me


Admittedly, I am not what you would call a “sports enthusiast.” Although I loved playing basketball in high school, I rarely follow sports statistics and never purposefully schedule time to watch events on television. That being said, my husband introduced me to the stories of Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett, and I found myself inspired and moved by two athletes who carry each other through life’s ups and downs. ESPN profiled the journey of these two men. When Leroy was 11 years old, he walked home on train tracks. Seeing a freight train in the near distance, he attempted to…

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Justice & Mercy


As we once again start at the beginning of the Torah, some of my favorite pieces of midrash (rabbinic stories) emerge from our tradition.  A gem from Genesis Rabbah: God’s creation of heaven and earth can be compared to the following: A parable of a king who had cups made of delicate glass. The king said: If I pour hot water into them, they will expand and burst; if cold water, they will contract and break. What did he do? He mixed cold and hot water, and poured them in, and so they remained unbroken. Likewise, the Holy One said:…

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Don’t Miss the Moment


Last night congregants invited us over to dine in their beautiful sukkah. The food was delicious, company was great and our children enjoyed playing together. But the best part of the evening was when our host gathered his daughters onto his lap, each of us following suit with a child in our arms and proceeded to tell us a story. He explained that a few “Sukkots” ago, by chance he found himself alone in his sukkah, clearing up from the family dinner that occurred a few hours prior. And so he took the few minutes of quiet, sat down in…

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Are You Listening?


Arguably, truly listening to someone is one of our hardest tasks as busy human beings. Often we think that we can listen while multi-tasking. Doing laundry, checking emails, washing the dishes…listening feels like something we can do while engaged with something else. But try an experiment: listen to a loved one or a friend while multi-tasking and then listen to that person while focused solely on them. Sitting down next to them, looking in their eyes. You may have “listened” to the exact same words but guaranteed the person will feel both seen and heard the second time around. The…

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