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Honorable Mensch-ion

Palace in Time


This unprecedented time has allowed us to speak more intimately to those we normally casually interact with. Last night I had the opportunity to be in conversation with Bishop Robert Stearns, head of Eagles Wings, an organization that sends Christian pastors to Israel, as he said, “To see an Israel where God is, not where God was.” We focused on this week’s parsha, Emor, specifically on the verse we recite at every holiday kiddush. “These are My appointed feast, which you should proclaim!” It appears obvious that God does not need to be reminded of sacred occasions. Rather, we who…

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Sounds of Our Loved Ones


As a young child, my family would vacation in the Pocono Mountains- crisp air, long days playing in the sand and swimming in the lake at Elm Beach. My parents met at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, and those mountains became a sacred place for us. The drive was only two hours from our home in Syracuse, NY, but as a 3 year old, it felt like a cross country trip. The kids would be entertained by our favorite cassette tapes playing from the stereo in our station wagon. While I cannot tell you my favorite album or song, I…

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A Dream Realized


On our now nightly walk in the neighborhood, our children can be found on scavenger hunts- how many pets they see, how many insects they discover, and how many birds are in the sky. Last night was different, as I found them singing loudly and freely on the sidewalk. “Ani natati eitz, ani baniti bayit, beretz yisrael.” “I planted a tree, I built a house, in the land of Israel.” They learned the song this week in their Judaic studies Zoom class at Sinai Akiba Academy. As I watched them blare at the top of their lungs, the words rung…

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Dreaming & Believing


As Passover concluded, ABC broadcasted a Disney family sing-a-long to the classic songs we all grew up with. The last number was “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella. As the chorus of voices joined together. The screen turned from one family to another, thanking doctors, nurses, police officers and firefighters, grocery store employees and truck drivers. Just hours ago, we ate our last bite of matzah. Leavened products are now permitted once again. And so I ask an additional question this Shabbat. What about ourselves that we have learned so far in this quarantine do we…

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Bedikat Chametz


Last night, we performed bedikat chametz, the search for leavened products in our home. It is a childhood memory that I now get to share with my children, as they find the best hiding spot in their bedrooms for the last piece of bread in the pantry. This morning, we have our last chance for chametz. I remember growing up running to the local diner for the last bite of a pancake, then hurrying over to burn the chametz as we anxiously awaited the first crunch of matzah at the seder table. I still hear my grandfather’s voice, “Tell this…

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Bedikat Chametz


Last night, we performed bedikat chametz, the search for leavened products in our home. It is a childhood memory that I now get to share with my children, as they find the best hiding spot in their bedrooms for the last piece of bread in the pantry. This morning, we have our last chance for chametz. I remember growing up running to the local diner for the last bite of a pancake, then hurrying over to burn the chametz as we anxiously awaited the first crunch of matzah at the seder table. I still hear my grandfather’s voice, “Tell this…

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Look What I Found


Yesterday, I found my old laptop computer that I used during my five years of Rabbinical school. As I opened it up for the first time in over a decade, I was flabbergasted as to what appeared before me- photos, photos, and more photos. Memories of loved ones whose physical presence I feel daily, joyous feelings as I looked at digital wedding albums, and memories from the trips that are forever sealed in my mind. As my children gathered around the computer, they began asking, “Who is this and who is that?” They did not even recognize their parents, just…

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Self Sacrifice


When we read about sacrifices in the Torah, they appear ancient, archaic, and out of touch with our lives. Yet, this week, they seem more appropriate than ever.   While most sacrifices consisted of animals given to the Temple, we read of the mincha offering, a voluntary offering consisting of flour and oil. The Rabbis explain this was more significant than the others; not everyone could offer an animal to God. Yet, every person could find flour to offer. Even the poorest person could fulfill their responsibility to participate in community in this way. It may not have been easy,…

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Looking Out


In these unprecedented times, we and so many other synagogue communities have successfully built virtual communities. Online minyanim, a slew of Torah study and interactive opportunities through Facebook, YouTube and ZOOM.   While these opportunities have allowed us in the Sinai Temple community to look in towards each other without the use of our physical building, it has also allowed us to look out into other communities we would otherwise not receive access too.   I have received emails from those on the east coast who recited kaddish as part of our online minyan, answered questions during classes in a…

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Connected Through Distance


The events of this week are unprecedented. Schools, houses of worship, workplaces are closed. Every major sports league ceased playing. Education and communication goes online.   It is difficult for everyone, and for the Jewish community, a people who craves togetherness, we ask ourselves: How can we not pray in a minyan? How can we not celebrate Shabbat in the same room as our loved ones? How can we not participate in community when community is what defines us?   Pikuach nefesh is the ultimate Jewish value: We choose life and we value life. In that vein, we must do…

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