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Posts by Rabbi Erez Sherman

Shana Tova


As I write these words, the night has fallen on the day before Rosh Hashanah. I open the mahzor, like seeing an old friend. It feels so familiar, words recited by my parents, and their parents. Just three generations ago, in Poland. Two generations ago in Philadelphia, one generation ago in New York, and now I stand here in Los Angeles. The locations change, the environment changes, the world this year has changed as we know it. And yet, the page numbers remain the same, the melodies remain the same, and the traditions remain the same. Tonight, we will raise…

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Stay Up Late


I will always remember the night I stayed up past midnight for the first time. It was Selichot, the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah. The service began at midnight, and as my father would say at the conclusion of each Selichot service, “Boker Tov, have a good morning!” Jews around the world recite these penitential prayers in the days leading up to the High Holidays. It is the first time we take our fist and beat our chest for the confessional. It is the first time we hear Avinu Malkeinu and open the ark to find the Torah covers are…

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The Redemptive Torah


As the world has changed, so has the manner in which we celebrate simcha in our community. We must discover joy during heartbreak. In pre-pandemic times, our B’nai Mitzvah would gather with their families and the Sinai Temple daily minyan in Kohn Chapel prior to Shabbat, wrap themselves in tallit, don tefillin, and for the first time, recite the brachot over the Torah. Today, we have instituted a kabbalat Torah, a ceremony of receiving the Torah. The Thursday before a child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah, we now deliver a Torah to the child’s home. We recite the brachot, adorn ourselves in the…

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Determination and Comeback: High Holy Days 5781


Determination. Comeback. Celebration of the Human Spirit. Those words can describe our Jewish community in this transformative moment. We have entered the month of Elul, just four weeks before Rosh Hashanah. Every day until the New Year, we will sound the shofar, waking us up to renew our lives, to build the community that we do not want to lose. If we are going to survive and thrive we must be determined, each of us counting more now than we ever have before. These words also describe Ariana Berlin. A budding Olympic gymnast in her youth, Ariana was severely injured…

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How Do You Learn?


During this pandemic, we have learned how to learn. We have shifted our focus from in-person to online learning. We attend webinars and programs from behind our screens. A new way of life demands new ways of operating. Yet, the one constant is our desire to continue learning. Isaiah writes in this week’s Haftorah: vchol banyich limudei Adonai. “All your children will be learned in Torah.” The Talmud asks, “Why should we learn Torah today when God promises to teach us in the future anyway?” Isaiah was not aware of this pandemic, but he was aware of a deep lesson:…

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If I Knew Then…


Each year when Parshat Eikev arrives, I think to myself, “If I knew then…” Twenty-six years ago, I celebrated my Bar Mitzvah, acting as teacher and preacher. While I cannot recall the words I said that morning, I can remember the feeling that the world was at my fingertips. In one year, I would be graduating middle school, in four years, college. And yet, today I wish I could go back to that Bar Mitzvah boy, and say, “If I Knew Then…” If I knew then… I would celebrate utmost joy in marriage to Rabbi Guzik, and be the father…

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Mystery and Faith


Questions of faith arise during times of challenge. Last night, as I browsed the TV stations, I chanced upon a talk show on JBS, Jewish Broadcasting Service. It happened to be an interview my father, Rabbi Charles Sherman, participated in almost ten years ago with Rabbi Mark Golub, and the topic was faith.  Faith is at the forefront of our society and the Jewish community. Every day, our children ask, “When will coronavirus be over?” “Why do I have to wear my mask?” “Why is God doing this to us?”  While we wish we had answers, the Jewish response must…

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Zaide Zoom


Last Shabbat was my grandfather’s yahrzeit. My Zaide, Bertram Hurowitz, made Aliyah at the age of 90 to be closer to three of his children living in Israel. Each year, the family visits his grave on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu and holds a memorial. This year was different. The yahrzeit fell on Shabbat, and COVID did not allow such a large gathering. Instead, our family around the world gathered on Zoom. We called it the “Zaide Zoom.” Each family unit submitted pictures to be shared to all of our screens and spoke for 5 minutes on the impact that Zaide had…

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Fireworks


Each week is a week like no other. July 4th signifies independence, summer, and fireworks. Yet, tomorrow, we celebrate without fireworks, without gatherings, without the sparks in the air. The first July 4th fireworks were set off on July 4th, 1776, just one year after the founding of America. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported the ships were dressed with the colors of the United States and streamers displayed. The evening concluded with a grand exhibition of fireworks. While we may not see the sky lit ablaze, our tradition encourages us to light a spark in our lives each and every…

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Being Present


Twenty four years ago, on Parshat Korach, my brother celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. It was not a normal Bar Mitzvah. Being a quadriplegic, Eyal could not walk or talk. The microphone would be of no help. And yet, his wheelchair was pushed onto the bima, a camera flashed his face onto a gigantic screen, and the congregation responded “Amen” to his blessing over the Torah. I recently looked at his speech from that special morning. This is what he said: “Some people never thought I would have a Bar Mitzvah because I’m in a wheelchair and on a respirator. But…

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