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Posts by Rabbi Erez Sherman

Self Sacrifice


When we read about sacrifices in the Torah, they appear ancient, archaic, and out of touch with our lives. Yet, this week, they seem more appropriate than ever.   While most sacrifices consisted of animals given to the Temple, we read of the mincha offering, a voluntary offering consisting of flour and oil. The Rabbis explain this was more significant than the others; not everyone could offer an animal to God. Yet, every person could find flour to offer. Even the poorest person could fulfill their responsibility to participate in community in this way. It may not have been easy,…

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Looking Out


In these unprecedented times, we and so many other synagogue communities have successfully built virtual communities. Online minyanim, a slew of Torah study and interactive opportunities through Facebook, YouTube and ZOOM.   While these opportunities have allowed us in the Sinai Temple community to look in towards each other without the use of our physical building, it has also allowed us to look out into other communities we would otherwise not receive access too.   I have received emails from those on the east coast who recited kaddish as part of our online minyan, answered questions during classes in a…

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Connected Through Distance


The events of this week are unprecedented. Schools, houses of worship, workplaces are closed. Every major sports league ceased playing. Education and communication goes online.   It is difficult for everyone, and for the Jewish community, a people who craves togetherness, we ask ourselves: How can we not pray in a minyan? How can we not celebrate Shabbat in the same room as our loved ones? How can we not participate in community when community is what defines us?   Pikuach nefesh is the ultimate Jewish value: We choose life and we value life. In that vein, we must do…

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Safe & Spiritual


Religion’s purpose is to feed our souls. Often, spiritual nourishment is achieved through physical contact, by showing up and being present in the moment, by filling a seat in the pews. Yet, these actions continue to be challenging in the wake of the spread of Coronavirus. How do we continue to celebrate in community while being physically isolated from each other?   The Midrash asks, “How come that Esther was privileged to rule over 127 provinces?” The answer, “Let Esther whose great-grandmother lived 127 years come and rule over 127 provinces.”   The Rabbis explain that other queens who reigned…

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It’s Complicated


The following was featured in the Jewish Journal. The full article is accessible HERE Throw 25 rabbinical students from the major streams of Judaism on an Israeli tour bus for a week, and what do you get? A complicated situation. This is exactly what the AIPAC Lefell Fellowship aims to accomplish: bring together future rabbis in a space that permits discussion, disagreement and love for the Jewish state.    As a recent rabbinic mentor on the Fellowship, I witnessed firsthand the intricacies, nuances and sensitivities of America’s future rabbis; different political, religious and social backgrounds, all with a distinct view…

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Camping


I did not grow up attending overnight camp. I stuck with sports day camps. It was not until my first year as a Rabbi that I slept at a Camp Ramah and witnessed firsthand the powerful effect of Jewish camping on our youth.   Each one of us joins a synagogue community for a different reason; religious education, social experience, and/or spiritual community. We arrive with our distinct needs. We hope to meet other like minded people, establish social bonds and increase our spiritual awareness. Yet, we often check our Judaism at the door. Our immersive experience lies within the…

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The Shabbat of Love


The secular calendar tells us love is in the air. But the Jewish calendar and parshat Yitro inform us that it is God who wishes us to live a life of love.   When the Ten Commandments are given, it is in the context of relationship. They are not given in order to earn God’s love. Rather, they are to inform us how to live as God’s people.   Yesterday I had the opportunity to volunteer at Big Sunday on Melrose Avenue. Big Sunday is an organization that provides volunteer opportunities almost everyday of the week, big and small, making…

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Grown Up


My four year old asked me while walking out the door this morning, “Abba, am I almost a grown up?” My six year old chimed in with a response. “I’m closer than you to being a grown up.”   I chuckled as I listened to this conversation. So many days we wake up asking the same question, “When will be grown up?” Each time we reach a different stage of life, personally or professionally, we recognize we have purely started again, and are no closer to our final destination that we thought.    We Jews as a people are the…

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Gold Medals


Zach Penprase grew up in Moorpark, CA, with very little Jewish identity, until he became an Olympic baseball player, representing the State of Israel. Zach’s mother is Jewish, and his grandmother is from the island of Rhodes. After connecting with Zach, I invited him and his teammates to Sinai Temple. Last week, over 100 people gathered for Shabbat lunch and heard the unbelievable stories of how playing baseball for Israel in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics allowed him to understand he is not just representing a country, but representing the Jewish people around the world. For the last month, Zach has…

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Be Part of the Story


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tells of the times his father took him to the synagogue. His father had very little education, and sold garments on the street. Each week they would return home from the synagogue and young Jonathan would asked his father the meaning of the traditions and rituals. His father would respond, “Jonathan, one day, I will give you the keys to the answers. I will ask you the question and you will tell me the meaning.”    Rabbi Sacks explains this simple story was the impetus for him to become a Rabbi, and ultimately the Chief Rabbi of…

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