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Posts by Rabbi Erez Sherman

Israel, We Are With You


This past week, rockets once again rained down on Israel, reaching as far as the central part of the country. Schools closed, people were home from work, and one jarring picture of a wedding taking place in a bomb shelter circulated. I received a call during that time from Emergency Volunteers Project (EVP). This is an organization that sends firefighters from the United States who are not Jewish to Israel, to both help build the fire department force, and learn from Israeli techniques how to better serve our country. With the proceeds from the Sinai Temple Men’s Club Burning Bush…

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Go To Yourself


Go to yourself. That is God’s command to Abraham-to leave his father’s house, to leave his country, and go to a strange land that God will show him. It is easy to be told where to go and what to do. It is much more difficult to “go to yourself,” to find a place that is comfortable for you, yet challenging enough to find a deeper meaning. Go to yourself—-a place in your soul. Yesterday morning, I once again had the honor of delivering soup and homemade bread to Church of The Good Shepherd, to feed the homeless that show…

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Be the Ark


Growing up in upstate New York, the story of Noah and the ark made complete sense. Rain was a staple of the season. In fact, a flood would usually accompany the Shabbat of Noah. In Southern California, we pray for rain. In a week of fire and scorched earth, we know that an upcoming rainstorm could in fact bring floods and mudslides. Where do we find shelter? Where is our ark? Rav Cook explains that ark is ourselves. And that ark shelters our souls, permitting us to work on the character traits we wish to improve before we go out…

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#ShowUpForShabbat


Last week, I met with a Catholic middle school student who had an assignment to learn about Judaism. She arrived prepared with a list of questions about belief, ritual, and history. We toured the sanctuary, looked at different Torahs, and watched classes at Sinai Akiba Academy prepare for Shabbat. As we concluded our tour, we passed by the March of The Living display. The father paused and said, “Rabbi, can you explain this to me?” I told him each year, a group of our members visits Poland to learn the history of the Holocaust, the vibrancy of Jewish life in…

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Always Something New


On my way to my office this week, I stopped in to a Sinai Akiba Academy guest lecturer, children’s author and illustrator, Bryan Collier. He explained to the children that each one of them is an artist in his or her own way. He then took out a book, “Snowy Day,” that changed the course of his life. He said, “You never outgrow a picture book.” For 45 years, Collier read that book, but just this past year, he noticed something new. I could not help but think of our upcoming celebration of Simchat Torah, as we conclude the Torah,…

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Fragile Foundations


On Yom Kippur afternoon, we read from the book of Vayikra, the holiness code. As we concluded, the honor of dressing the Torah was given to a young 7 year old boy named Eli. As he placed the crowns on the Torah, accompanied by his parents, I watched his parents beam with a smile. Just days after Yom Kippur, we transition from the holiest day, with a sure foundation under our feet, into the sukkah, the most fragile dwelling we find in our tradition. Each evening, in our Haskiveinu prayer, we pray for a sukkat shlomecha, a blanket of peace…

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Putting it all Away


As Kol Nidre was about to begin, I looked at my dining room table: still adorned with a red tablecloth, pomegranates, honey pots and apple figurines to symbolize the richness and sweetness of the new year. As we were transitioning to the holiest night of the year, it didn’t seem fitting to keep Rosh Hashana’s decor on the table. I gathered up the passé holiday “pieces” and put it all away. I felt both a sense of melancholy and humility as I walked towards the credenza. Melancholy that another holiday has passed, time continues to rush by, and the hard…

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Who’s Older Now?


The following piece was included in this week’s Jewish Journal. Here is a rabbinic secret. Each year before Yom Kippur, rabbis send an e-mail, asking a simple question: “Has anyone compiled a list of notable deaths for the past year?” The impressive list for 2019 includes architect I.M. Pei, journalist and author Cokie Roberts, business magnate Barron Hilton, businessman and former presidential candidate Ross Perot and actor Peter Fonda. But two years ago, as this email appeared in my inbox, I had no choice but to respond to my fellow rabbis that I had just suffered the loss of my…

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Change?


A woman proudly hung on her mantelpiece a plaque that read, “Prayer Changes Things.” A few days later, the plaque was missing from its place. The woman asked her husband if he had seen it. “I took it down, I didn’t like it,” he replied. “But why?” the woman asked. “Don’t you believe that prayer changes things?” Yes, I honestly do,” her husband answered. “But it just so happens that I don’t like change, so I threw it away.” Over the next several days together, we will ask God for change; change in our lives, change in our communities, and…

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New Friends


Last night, I had the opportunity to meet new members of Sinai Temple. I asked a simple question, “What is your most formative Jewish experience?” Each answer given was more powerful than the next. For one, it was the death of a loved one years ago, and now she wants to show her children the love of Judaism and synagogue that her father showed her. For another, a grandmother who moved to Los Angeles to help raise her grandchild, and another who followed his children to Los Angeles and wishes to seek community. Each individual, with a full and vibrant…

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