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Honorable Mensch-ion

New Expectations


I entered the world of middle school parenthood this week. Back to school night overwhelmed us as teacher after teacher presented the expectations of how the year will proceed. Our children have grown up here in these hallways at Sinai Temple, yet it felt like I was in an entirely different place. I can imagine the Israelites in the desert as Moses retells the story of the people. At last, they arrive to the point where Moses presents them with the Torah, their covenant with one God. Moses explains that when they get to a certain point, they will write kol divrei hatorah hazot, the entire Torah on stones that they shall set up.

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Open the Cover


While it is rare to see a donkey walking down the street in Los Angeles, in the world of the Torah, we learn that you must not ignore a donkey without an owner. In fact, you must stop and tend to it together.

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The Shofar Blast


This morning, the shofar sounded for the first time announcing the month of Elul, one month from the new year of Rosh Hashana. As much as the shofar is associated with awakening us in the month leading up to the High Holy Days, the Torah first mentions the shofar in Exodus 19 at the point of revelation at Mount Sinai. There was a dense cloud upon the mountain and a loud blast.

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Kadima–Let’s Go


Last week, I wrote to you overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City walls. This week, I write to you staring out into the Mediterranean Sea to my right and peering out to a view of Old Jaffa to my left.

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Glass


Our hotel room overlooks the old city walls of Jerusalem, a view that never gets old. Last night, we planned for an early bedtime for our kids as we prepare for a sunrise trip to Masada and a float in the Dead Sea before Shabbat. As the kids recited the nighttime Shema, I looked outside and saw a bride and groom standing under a chupah as the band sang Im eshkachech yerushalayim, if I forget thee O Jerusalem.

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God


We present ourselves uniquely dependent upon the circumstance we find ourselves. To many, I am a Rabbi. In my home, I am a husband and father. When visiting my parents and siblings, I am a son and a brother. And yet, no matter where I go, I am still myself.

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Whose Story Will You Tell?


We are in the midst of the nine days of Av, as we approach the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’Av. On Wednesday evening, we will sit on the floor of Kohn Chapel in darkness, reciting the entire book of Lamentations.

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How Do We Travel?


I miss the AAA TripTik. When I was in 4th grade, each student chose a place in the United States they wished to travel to. My sister was a freshman at Brandeis University, so I chose Boston. I went to AAA, they handed me a map, and I highlighted the must-see landmarks: Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, the Boston Tea Party ship, Fenway Park, Faneuil Hall, and more. I prepared myself to know what I would see. When I experienced those places, they were much more than stops on an itinerary. Each stop had a deeper meaning, for its past history and what it meant to me as a young American.

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Rabbis and Israel


As you enter the Knesset, Israel’s parliament building, you pass a replica of the Declaration of Independence. The first line states, “We hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.”

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