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Honorable Mensch-ion

A Prophecy Fulfilled


As I came home from work on Wednesday afternoon, I heard a loud voice coming from our home office. As I approached the door, I observed my daughter singing Hatikvah at the top of her lungs, as part of her online Hebrew homework. I smiled and allowed her to continue. Just yesterday, as we celebrated the 71st birthday of the State of Israel, I tuned into the international Bible contest, held in Jerusalem, on Israel’s independence day. The finalists consisted of young students from Israel, Panama and the United States. Each morning, before the Shema, we recite the paragraph of…

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Voices of Peace


It is difficult to believe that we are just six days removed from the tragic shooting at the Chabad of Poway, which took the life of Lori Gilbert-Kaye and injuring the Rabbi and an 8 year old girl playing during Shabbat services. It is unfathomable that people attending Yizkor are now themselves being memorialized. This same week, I have watched from afar as thousands walked from Auschwitz to Birkenau for March of the Living. How can anti-Semitism be so alive and well? We read in our Torah this Shabbat of the scapegoat, the ritual of the Temple priests to rid…

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The Season of Counting


Each night at dinner, my children ask for math problems. They started with simple addition. They now challenge themselves with multiplication. This week was different. All the word problems revolved around Passover. My son said, “What is 3 plus 2?” My daughter replied, chamisha, five, and then quoted the well known “Seder Song,” Who Knows Five? I Know Five! Five are the books of the Torah! Through all the chaos at the table, it was music to my ears, because we have entered the season of counting. We count the omer for 49 days, from Passover until Shavuot. Sefer HaChinuch…

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The Season of Counting


Each night at dinner, my children ask for math problems. They started with simple addition. They now challenge themselves with multiplication. This week was different. All the word problems revolved around Passover. My son said, “What is 3 plus 2?” My daughter replied, chamisha, five, and then quoted the well known “Seder Song,” Who Knows Five? I Know Five! Five are the books of the Torah! Through all the chaos at the table, it was music to my ears, because we have entered the season of counting. We count the omer for 49 days, from Passover until Shavuot. Sefer HaChinuch…

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Freedom of Pesach


At my daughter’s model seder, as all of the parents smiled behind their iPhone cameras, proud of their children learning the various parts of the seder, I watched as one mother broke into tears. The next day, she stopped me in the hallway and explained her reaction. Her father grew up in the Soviet Union. Each Passover, she hears the story of how her father would go to the secret synagogue, with a black sheet over his head, and bring matzah to his family for Passover seder. Today, she watches her son chant the words of the Haggadah fluently in…

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Where Were You When?


I was not alive when a man landed on the moon, but I can now tell you where I was when Israel arrived in space. Yesterday afternoon, as twenty of us gathered to study Torah in a Century City conference room, we were initially all glued to our phones, waiting for word that Beresheet, the rocket from Israel, made a safe landing. And yet, after weeks in orbit, the moment did not go as planned. There was a crash, and the experiment was done. Where was I when Israel arrived in space? I was studying aspects of the Haggadah with…

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Memories of Camp


It has been shown that immersive Jewish experiences such as summer camp greatly influence one’s connection to Judaism later in life. It is with that excitement that I watched our children this morning as they prepare to spend Shabbat together at Camp Ramah with our Sinai Temple family. We will pray, play, eat, schmooze, and learn together. We will learn our stories in a much deeper way. We will see old friends and make new ones. It is the hope that Sunday morning’s closing circle will be a beginning and not an end to our connection to our synagogue and…

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Beyond Understanding


I spent the beginning of the week at the AIPAC Policy Conference, surrounded by 18,000 pro-Israel supporters from each side of the aisle, Jewish and non-Jewish, advocating and listening to reason after reason why the United States-Israel relationship must be a given.   At the conclusion of the conference, I visited the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. There, you learn about the journey of the Jews in this great country (beginning in 1654), and the challenges and anti-Semitism we faced throughout generations, so many years without a Jewish homeland, only but a dream.   I concluded my…

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It’s All In Your Mind


I took a Lyft to a Purim party on Wednesday evening, fully dressed in an Incredibles costume. Standing on the busy corner of Wilshire Blvd. during rush hour traffic, I was self conscious with regard to my appearance.   As I opened the car door, I apologized to the driver for causing a public scene. The driver, who came to this country over 20 years ago, looked at me seriously and said, “Are you kidding me? You made my day! And wherever you are going…You’re going to make their day too!!!!”   He continued, “It’s all in your mind!”  …

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Remember


Tonight we will sing L’cha Dodi to welcome in the Shabbat bride. We say Shamor Vzachor, we should guard and remember the Sabbath day. It is a positive approach of remembrance. Yet, the same word, zachor, remember, is used to remember the acts of the evil Amalek, acts of destruction for the sole purpose of sinat chinam, senseless hatred.    While these two ways of thinking appear vastly different, in fact, the principle behind remembering, both good and evil, is the same. Rabbi Yitzchak Sladowsky teaches that remembering Shabbat prevents spiritual disease. We preserve the holy and the sacred, engaging…

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