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Honorable Mensch-ion

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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Search


Each year, the Eve before Pesach, we conduct the ritual of bedikat chametz, the searching of unleavened products from our home. We go around the house with a feather, spoon, and candle, making the declaration, “All chametz that we see and that we do not see is null and void.” Yet, just like so many other traditions of this past year, bedikat chametz will be different; because Passover begins on Saturday evening, we perform bedikat chametz a day earlier.

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One Year


Scroll through any newspaper from yesterday, and you will see similar headlines: “Pandemic: One Year In.” Nicholas Goldberg of The Los Angeles Times describes his return to the office after 365 days away: “My glasses were still sitting by the phone, and a legal pad was open, as if I had just stepped out for lunch.” The same sentiment occurred month after month at Sinai Temple. For months, the sanctuary remained in the exact configuration as we left it, the same pew bulletin from March 2019.

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Zoom, Zoom, Zoom


Can you hear me? That is the question of the year. Zoom has opened up our lives, allowing participation in lifecycle events both from near and far. And yet, however miraculously close Zoom has brought us, we simply cannot do what we want to do: sing at the same time.

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Run Away or Run Toward


Israel is one of the only places tin the world where you have a unique Purim choice. Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar, which is today.

However, in a city surrounded by walls, like Shushan, or in today’s world, Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of Adar. And that leaves us with a choice. If you love Purim so much and you want the party to continue, all you need to do is celebrate Purim in Tel Aviv on the 14th of Adar, take the short ride to Jerusalem on the 15th of Adar, and you have two full days of one of the happiest days of the year.

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