Honorable Mensch-ion

No Words

Each week, words freely flow from my fingertips while composing a Shabbat message to our community. Yet, this morning, I stared at a blank page for hours. What words can describe the week that was, the murder of 19 children and two lifelong educators? After days like Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, and a litany too long to list, the simplest question we ask and most difficult to answer is, “Why?”

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Words and Wishes

When I lived in Israel in 2007, I had a return flight to the United States on Lag BaOmer. As the plane took off over the land, you could see bonfire after bonfire, town by town, light up the night sky. That image is hard to recreate in the United States. For many years, my good friend, colleague, and neighbor, Rabbi Jason Fruithandler, and I would take our children to the backyard and attempt to create a small flame as we roasted marshmallows and celebrated the joys of Torah study.

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We are a people that remembers. This week, we will commemorate the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah. The next week, we will remember on Yom HaZikaron, the fallen soldiers of Israel who gave their life to give us a life in the Jewish state.

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What Will You Bring?

My son was recently awarded the game ball in his Little League. He put the ball in a glass case and proudly displayed it in the living room. Last week, we found the case shattered and asked him why he did not properly take care of his prized possession. He told us this: “It’s really too hard too explain.” After a bit of hesitation, the truth came out.

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Our Month

In the summer of 2010, my father and I led our respective synagogues on a trip to Israel. Besides the typical tours of Masada, Golan Heights, and Old City of Jerusalem, we searched for the local stories that were not in the headlines at the time. Day after day, we witnessed a small crowd of people under a white tent, set up in front of the Prime Minister’s residence. We saw a man in a black t-shirt and jeans greeting all those who approached him. His name was Noam Shalit, and his son Gilad Shalit, had been help captive by Hamas for the last few years. Noam was a father, not only praying for his son’s return, but actively pursuing a way for his son to sit again at the family Shabbat table.

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The Eighth Day

The minute the megillah concludes, we focus our attention on the next book, the Haggadah. With Passover just three weeks away, the to do list seems longer than ever. Matzah is already on the supermarket shelves. We know that spring cleaning is before us, but how ready are we to engage in that task? Fortunately, we know the prize at the conclusion of cleaning is a meal with our families and friends: The Passover Seder.

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