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Honorable Mensch-ion

What Do We Wear?


Today is the last day of school. In the world of yesterday, that meant a change of program from the regular school and work days, and a transition to camp. That also would mean a change of dress. From the slacks, shirt and tie to a transition to shorts and sneakers, interacting with our Sinai Temple families through the joy of sport and recreation. And while that simple change of dress code may seem trite, it is during this unique and strange time that it has a deeper message for us all. We dress in a different manner for a…

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Acquire A Friend


Acquire a friend, our Rabbis teach. Not make a friend or become a friend. Acquire a friend. I have written many times in this column of my special friendship with Pastor John Paul Foster of Faithful Central Bible Church. We dine together, we pray together. We have laughed together and we have cried together. The Talmud teaches, “I have learned much from my teachers and more from my friends than from my teachers.” To have a friend is to have a true relationship, moments when you can lean on the other, moments when they can lean on you. To have…

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Firsts


When I went looking for a fresh piece of fruit this morning, I could not find it. As I searched our home, my daughter told me the fruit bowl was in her room. It was positioned in front of the web camera, as her class was preparing for Shavuot. Shavuot is also known as Chag Habikurim, the festival of the first fruits. There is something special about firsts. The excitement, the anxiety, the fear, and the rush of adrenaline that accompanies the potential of firsts; the first time your favorite fruits appear on the shelves of grocery stores, the first…

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Jerusalem Day


In June of 1967, two college students were finishing their study abroad program in Jerusalem when most parents told their children to return home leading up to the imminent Six Day War. These two college students decided to stay in Jerusalem. After Jerusalem was unified days later, these two students witnessed a miracle; the Torah scrolls were marched to the Kotel for the holiday of Shavuot for the first time in almost 2000 years. They never left. These students are my aunt and uncle, and they began our family’s relationship with the State of Israel in a deep and meaningful…

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The Kindness Advantage


The Chofetz Chayim was the owner of a small grocery store. All their customers were greatly impressed with their honesty and the high quality of merchandise. Anything that was even partially spoiled was immediately removed from stock. All the weights and measures were accurate, and prices set according to halacha. Because of his integrity, the residents of the town flocked to the store. Instead of being pleased with his success, however, the Chofetz Chayim was worried that he might be taking away business from others and he kept the store closed in the afternoon. The Torah teaches that we must…

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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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