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Posts by Rabbi Erez Sherman

Go


When I was in 3rd grade, I learned the parsha Lech Lecha. The Rabbi looked at my classmate and shouted, “Go, Avraham, get out of here!” My friend, named Avraham, got out of his seat, and quickly exited the classroom, not realizing the Rabbi was quoting the parsha verbatim. During these interesting times, we have very few places to go. Travel is limited, we work from home, we connect over a screen. And yet, there are so many places that we can go. As Abraham journeys towards the promised land, the Torah tells us: haloch vnaso hanegbah, He travelled toward…

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The Ark


John Huibers, from the Netherlands, took 4 years and 2 months to build a replica of Noah’s Ark, which he dreams of one day floating to the land of Israel. While each year we read the story of Noah, from the flood to the ark to the rainbow as a metaphor of how to improve our moral lives, it does not go unnoticed that we have all built our own arks in the last 8 months. However, we have also left our own sacred arks: synagogues, schools, places of gatherings. We have brought our families, our animals, our most prized…

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Something From Nothing


Over the past six months, we have learned to find joy during challenging times. For each Bar and Bat Mitzvah, we have created a ritual called kabbalat ha-Torah, where we deliver a Torah scroll to the family’s home. For the first time, the child puts on the tallit, and has an aliyah to the Torah, the official marking of Jewish adulthood. A recent Bar Mitzvah family decided to do something unique. In Kohn Chapel and the Ziegler Sanctuary, we have already established pulpits with custom-made tables to hold the Torah while it is read. A few weeks ago, a mother…

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We Finished…And We Begin


The sigh of relief when we finish a giant project is often the best feeling of the experience. Yet, when we finish the annual reading of the Torah, the most exciting part is what is yet to be. The last word of the Torah is Yisrael. We evolved from individuals placed on this earth into a sacred people, tilling God’s garden and fixing the world. The first word of the Torah is Bereshit. Each year as a people we begin again. Our Rabbis teach kol hatchalot kashot, all beginnings are difficult. Once we have started, it is much easier to…

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Sukkah Clouds


Eating in a sukkah with a winter coat and gloves was the norm growing up in the northeast. I grew up to believe that a sukkah provided warmth even on the coldest days. As an adult eating in a sukkah in extreme heat, my children are taught that a sukkah brings shade even on the hottest days. Fortunately, our tradition teaches us that my childhood self and my adult self do not contradict; we are both right. The covering of the sukkah symbolize the annei kavod, clouds of glory that God would protect the Jewish people with in the wilderness….

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Return Again


Have you ever returned to a familiar place from your childhood and it does not look the same? Everything looked bigger and brighter when we were children. Over the years, our life experiences chisel away the ideal and create the real. Just look back to last year. Full sanctuaries, face to face, shaking hands, and hugging. This year; empty pews, screen to screen, and no personal touch. Yet, we did it! For the last five days, the clergy at Sinai Temple have received emails and calls, astounded that our community could connect and feel close, with the miracle of technology….

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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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