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Honorable Mensch-ion

United We Stand


The Exodus commences the Jewish exile. Jacob did not go alone; the children of Israel went with him. Jacob’s name change to Israel occurred after his successful struggle with Esau’s angel, Jacob is a “pure man, the dweller in the tents of learning.” These are the keys to exile-love and devotion to learning. Rabbi Z.S. Suchard explains the qualities represented by Jacob can never leave a Jew; this is his existence. Yet, to exist in the Diaspora, we must connect with our neighbors, our friends.   Tonight, I am honored to welcome my friend and fellow faith leader, Pastor John…

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The Minyan Hop


Last Friday, when deciding which synagogue to attend in Jerusalem, I ultimately chose the Kotel, the Western Wall. Approaching the Kotel, you hear the calls of “Minyan, Minyan.” Groups coalesce to form the required quorum of ten. As the crowd swells, confusion settles in. On my right I heard Sephardic melodies. On my left, I listened to Ashkenazic niggunim. I found myself singing the melodies of Shlomo Carlebach, surrounded by young yeshiva students and soldiers. As we turned to face the plaza and welcome the Shabbat bride, a group of Americans looked at each other, and asked, “What do you…

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Walking the Land


The past, the present, and the future.   While in most parts of the world it is difficult to experience all of these in one sitting, we know in Israel, it is easy. This week has been all of that and more. I have been honored to be the representative Conservative rabbi on the AIPAC Lefell Fellowship trip, comprised of 22 rabbinic students from the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements across the United States.   The Present… We met Chen from Kibbutz Gaza. She took us to her backyard, opened a shed and began to take out rocket after rocket…

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Bright Lights


We place the Chanukiah in the window in order for all to see the miracle. This mitzvah should not be performed in isolation; it is for others to see that a great miracle happened there, in Israel. Yet, this week, I can firmly state a great miracle happened here. Just days after the troubling anti-Semitic acts committed against our own Jewish community, hundreds of Jews gathered at Century City mall for a public gathering; not behind closed doors or in a theatre, but in full display for all to see. The only complaint….the tent was sold out! Children spun dreidels,…

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Reboot…


This morning, I turned on my computer and received this message, “Failed to reboot.” It is the message of doom- everything is lost. My desktop files, photos from my phone, sermons of the past years-out of sight, out of mind.   After the initial shock, I found myself surprised. Today I spoke to more people face to face than I had in weeks. I read words from books and not from screens. I engaged the world in a way I have often neglected.   Failed to reboot—a true message from God.   Each Friday night we sing uvayom hashevii shavat…

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Silence on Israel Results in Fear on Campus


The following was featured in this week’s Jewish Journal.    As a freshman at Columbia University in September 2000, the toxic anti-Israel atmosphere burgeoned in front of my eyes with the start of the Second Intifada. My roommate, a political science major, went toe to toe with anti-Semitic professors in classrooms, who presented Israel as an apartheid, imperialist state. He received hate email for his “dissenting” views, and we felt compelled to lock our door at night. I thought to myself, “He could fight the fight better than me.”   I was silent.   The predecessors of Students for Justice…

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The Kippah Drawer…Again


Two years ago, I wrote in this very column about the “Kippah Drawer,” which each one of us has- a collection of kippot collected from various baby namings, B’nai Mitzvah and weddings. When we open that drawer, memory floods our hearts and minds. We smile at past simchas, and tear up at loved ones no longer in our presence.   This week, Rabbi Guzik and I donated a piece of furniture which contained our kippah drawer. We emptied its contents, schlepped it out of our house, and carefully put it in a truck for pick-up. I remarked to Rabbi Guzik,…

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Thanks to Tradition


As I awoke on Thanksgiving morning, I started a text chain reminiscing of a tradition we partook in as children; a simple trip to the bakery to pick out the cookies and pies for Thanksgiving dinner. Now, as my siblings are spread from London to Los Angeles, that simple text reclaimed tradition, and gave thanks to what was. Thanksgiving- an entire day to express thanks, to acknowledge gratitude, both past and present, to find the good in our ever-changing world. We often say what we are grateful for but not often to whom. This Shabbat, we read Toldot, the genealogies…

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The Magic Coin


When Abraham purchases the Cave of Machpela, in the city of Hebron, to bury Sarah and our ancestors, the Rabbis ask, “What type of coin did he use?” We know it was not a quarter or silver dollar. The answer… It was a coin accepted by each and every merchant. On one side was inscribed, “for our elders.” On the other side was inscribed, “for our children.” Abraham was not solely purchasing a piece of property. Rather, he was honoring the elders, providing for them an eternal resting place, and ensuring it for future generations. Abraham was teaching us the…

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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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