Menu   

Posts by Rabbi Nicole Guzik

Summer Break Assumptions


The first question someone usually asks after summer vacation is, “How was your break?” And the follow up, “Was it great?” The expected response is quick and to the point. “Yeah, it was wonderful.” “Yes, it was fine.” The conversation is over. I have asked the initial prompt several times this week. However, this year, I let the question linger a few seconds, so the person’s face has time to register the question. And actual analysis of facial expressions is quite astounding. Furrowed eyebrows. Eyes turned downward. A smile that doesn’t quite match the wearied face. Not everyone had a…

Read this post

To My Son As He Starts Kindergarten


Dear Zachary, The Talmud says that a child should be thrust off with the left hand only so long as one brings him near with the right. I take this to mean, I should be giving you enough room to grow, develop, use your voice, and exercise decisions without my opinions suffocating your own. You should feel my comforting presence without being stifled, pigeon-holed by parental expectations, wishes and desires. And yet, all I want to do, is hold you close, smother you with love, and remind you that no matter what age you are, in my eyes, I still…

Read this post

Stop Rushing


The day after Tisha B’Av, I walked into a local arts n’ crafts store. With the hot temperatures and blazing sun, it was unfathomable to me that skeletons and pumpkins met me at the entrance of the store. Aren’t we technically still in the middle of summer? Displayed ghosts, witches and cauldrons more than suggested that October was here, and costume season had begun. Shaking my head, I thought, “Thank God for the Jewish calendar.” The Jewish calendar isn’t owned by Hallmark. Meaning, each commemoration feels appropriately embraced by days of preparation, focused learning, celebration and often, eating. For example,…

Read this post

Hope Isn’t Lost


Special Edition: As Seen in This Week’s Jewish Journal One of my favorite spots in Philadelphia is the Please Touch Museum. Children run all over, pretending to be train conductors, checking out at the grocery store, and bringing characters to life through various childhood stories. A highlight is watching my own kids “paint the roses red.” They enter the world of Alice in Wonderland, pick up a paintbrush and let the stresses of the outside world melt away as imagination and invention take over. But our children are growing up in a world in which their sacred spaces of play…classrooms,…

Read this post

Everyone Has a Story to Tell


Independence Seaport hosts the USS Olympia, known to be the oldest steel-hulled American warship still afloat. Launching in 1892, one of the ship’s biggest claims to fame was returning the Unknown Soldier from WWI for a reburial ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery. On the backside of the Unknown Soldier’s Tomb reads the following, “Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God.” Interestingly enough and perhaps merely coincidental, down the path from the USS Olympia is a fence filled with ordinary locks. Rows after row of locks meets the eye, filled with inscriptions, names, and words of…

Read this post

It’s just like riding a bike.


It’s just like riding a bike. The phrase reverberated through my mind as I biked the short distance from Santa Monica to Venice Beach. Wobbling from side to side, I slowly gained confidence as I tried to remember the simple skills needed to maneuver a bicycle. (It has probably been over twenty years.) And for a few short yards, all was fine until other people decided to take the same morning stroll. With each additional person on a bicycle, roller blading, walking or biking on the path, my courage waned and I struggled to gain control of the bike. It’s…

Read this post

Messages from Beyond


In the middle of the night, I found myself startled awake. My grandmother, now deceased for several years, appeared in my dream. She didn’t speak. But as other members of my family sat in rows waiting for a performance to begin, she slipped into the seat next to mine, smiling with her bright, pink lipstick hued lips. Dressed head to toe in a beige and black pantsuit, there was no mistaking who this was. My grandmother, of blessed memory wanted to be right by my side. I am a firm believer that the soul continues well past the demise of…

Read this post

The Weeping Rock


We took our first family road trip to Zion National Park. Among the incredible views and natural wonders, the fan favorite was a phenomenon known as “Weeping Rock.” A quick ten minutes up a steep ascent leads you to an odd site: a mountain of stone…crying. Droplets of water fall on your head and over and over again, the question is asked: why is the mountain crying? The rangers explain that water has slowly eroded sandstone sitting above Weeping Rock. The water hits seemingly impermeable stone, forcing drops out the sides of the mountain’s wall, causing nonstop crying. In other…

Read this post

What are you waiting for?


Erez and I recently spent a wondrous week at Camp Ramah. We taught, schmoozed with campers and counselors, and breathed in the soulful air that only camp provides. One morning, we decided to take a walk into Ojai. Erez runs marathons. I do not. Erez runs miles throughout Los Angeles. I do not. But hill after hill, curve after curve, I was committed to finishing the walk. Getting closer to the half-way mark, directly ahead was the following sign: ROAD CLOSED. Nearly crying, I blurted out, “We are not turning around.” For a few minutes, we debated making the trek…

Read this post

Letting Go


Summertime often includes sun-drenched days filled with ice cream dripping down chins, lounging at the beach, and regular routines thrown out the window. And in our home, summer usually means…swimming lessons. My kids take to the water with their distinct personalities. One swims with ease, barely looking over her shoulder to see if we are watching. Another kid jumps in, screaming with glee…but can’t swim a stroke. And finally, one child sticks to the steps, content to stay glued to the side of the pool. That is…until this year. The kid who never leaves the pool’s edge looked at me…

Read this post