Honorable Mensch-ion


Mher, A Hero and Loyal Friend

Yesterday, I met a hero. He didn’t call himself a hero. He simply told me, “Rabbi, I am a loyal friend.” His name is Mher, an Armenian-Lebanese-Christian young man who was simply out for sushi with his Jewish friends in Los Angeles last week. What was going to be a quiet night of food and friends turned out to be a night we could never imagine–an anti-Semitic attack on Jews. While others looked on, Mher stepped up, both protecting his Jewish friends, and all the patrons at Sushi Fumi.

Read this post

Together We Must Stand

In the blessing of the new month, we recite Chaverim Kol Yisrael–May the entire people Israel be united in friendship. We said those words just last week as we brought in the month of Sivan. It is so difficult and must be said that in the last few days, we have witnessed blatant hatred for the State of Israel and for the people of Israel. Social media quickly became the place to hide behind a screen and demonize each other; friends and colleagues “blocked” the “other.”

Read this post


On Monday night, I will take a red eye to Philadelphia. I have not seen my parents since January of 2020. Yes, we speak on the phone multiple times a day. There are Facetimes and Zooms and What’s App messages at all hours of the day and night, but for almost 15 months, there has been no embrace and no touch.

Read this post

Forty Years

Forty is a common number in our tradition. Moses went up the mountain to receive the Torah in forty days. The Jews wandered in the wilderness for forty years. The Talmud teaches, “One does not fully comprehend the knowledge of his teacher before forty years.” We learn in Pirkei Avot that a human being’s full potential of wisdom is reached at age forty. This is portrayed in the affirmative—for when we attain that age, we now obtain wisdom to judge the world accordingly. Forty is both the completion of a level behind and the inauguration of a renewal ahead. Susan Handelman writes, “The moment of emptiness contains the seeds of ascent to a higher level.”

Read this post

Small Sparks

Two weeks ago, we re-entered the sanctuary for the first time in over one year. Each time I entered those sacred walls during the pandemic, I often thought, “As much as we miss the Torahs, the Torahs missed us.” As Rabbi Guzik welcomed back our community with an emphatic Shabbat Shalom, it was miraculous to hear the return of Shabbat Shalom back to us; it brought tears to our eyes.

Read this post

Small Reminders

My grandfather, Edward Sherman, was from Poland. When he came to the United States, there was confusion as to what his real birthday was in both the year and the date. Some would say April 15th, and others would say April 16th. This discrepancy led us to celebrate Pa’s birthday on BOTH days his entire life until his passing 12 years ago.

Read this post

Shabbat of Transition

In one week, we journey from commemoration to celebration. The memory of those who perished in the Shoah to the memory of those who have their lives to create and protect a State of Israel on Yom HaZikaron. And then finally, joy, celebration, and the recognition of the miraculous.

Read this post

Don’t Stop

For the last week, we have told and retold the Exodus story, the journey of our ancestors from slavery to freedom. The beauty of living according to the rhythm of the Jewish calendar is that our narrative does not end with the splitting of the sea. Just days after concluding our freedom festival, we observe a more recent commemoration: Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. While the Exodus story may seem like a fairy tale in our mind, Yom HaShoah is tangible, real, intense, and a story that must be told by all of us.

Read this post

The Music of the Seder

The music of the Seder permeates the walls of our home these days. Henry in Pre-K sings, “Mah Nishtana.” Zachary in first grade sings, “Dayeinu,” and Annie in third grade belts out, “Echad Mi Yodeah”/”Who Knows One?”

Read this post