Honorable Mensch-ion

An Attitude of Gratitude

During my Rabbinic internship at Temple Sholom, in Greenwich, CT, Rabbi Mitch Hurvitz would preach a consistent message: An “attitude of gratitude.” Whether it be in a religious school classroom, pre-school Shabbat, or Yom Kippur sermon, the attitude for gratitude was necessary to build a sacred community. For many Americans, Thanksgiving is the moment where we actively acknowledge our life’s blessings. At the dinner table, we publicly recite what we are grateful for in ways which we may passively accept the rest of the year.

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Let It Shine

A new Torah study group recently formed with Sinai Temple dads. Each month, we explore a traditional Jewish text based on well known rituals, and we discuss the meaning that these traditions have within our own families.

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I recently officiated a memorial service of a man who was an antique dealer. As he started his business, he would place ads in newspapers around the country and set up a telephone number in cities across the United States, searching for memorabilia, furniture, and other antiques that people were discarding. His children told me that his home and store were filled from floor to ceiling with material possessions that were truly treasures. His clients included royalty from around the world.

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Running the Right Way

For some of our daily activities, responsibilities, and obligations, we are quick to action. For others…..we are less excited about them. Laundry, dishes, and making school lunches are tasks I somehow find excuses to procrastinate. Yet, all we need is Abraham in our midst to teach us the lesson of how to move our bodies and souls just a tad quicker.

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Cookie Division

Have you ever tried to divide a cookie into three? It is much more difficult than dividing a cookie in half. That is a major challenge in our home, with three children clamoring over Shabbat dessert each week.

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Walking with God

There was a young student in Chelm attending a university. He arrived at the end of the semester and explained to his parents he was learning zoology. They were intrigued and asked for an example. He picked up a frog and instructed it to jump. The frog jumped and jumped again. The student then tied the legs together and the frog refused to hump. The student explained, “We learned when you tie a frog’s legs together, it cannot hear.”

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Spirit and Soul

A beginning in the Jewish year is often a repeat of the past. Copy…paste….repeat. But this year is different. It is a beginning like we have not seen in our lifetime. Just two weeks ago, our Sinai Temple religious school students entered our sacred walls for the first time in almost two years. Children are learning the aleph bet, Torah on their tongue, sweet as honey. In Bereshit, we learn that a human being only becomes a living soul when God breathes into our nostrils the breath of life.

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Dancing in the Streets

We are called Yisrael, the people who struggle with God. Yet, Yisrael can also mean Yashir-El, the one who sings to God. The Piezetzner Rebbe explains, “Music is the key to our souls, waking it and its passions. It is possible to open our soul and release some of our spiritual essence.” Music cannot be seen; it can only be heard and felt. Joey Weisenberg, a leader in the modern musical prayer community, tells the story of an intense service he was leading in Minneapolis. Every participant was heavily involved, swaying their bodies and using their voices. At the height of the experience, the Rabbi opened the door and a negative twenty-nine degree wind rushed in and stunned the congregation. The Rabbi said, “This is to remind us that what we do here, with our prayer and music, must go back out there, must be taken back to the streets.”

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Yom Kippur Miracle

A miracle occurred yesterday that must be shared. This year, we have been neither here nor there. Last week, the moment that our Sinai Temple community received the devastating news that our families could not gather inside our sacred space for Rosh Hashana was the same moment we envisioned a way for our community to gather in a meaningful and safe way on Yom Kippur. Words cannot express the gratitude we have to our communal institutions who all said, “Yes!” to open their doors for our worship spaces. Dr. Sarah Shulkind of the Milken Community School and Dr. Jeff Herbst of American Jewish University answered our call and helped us in unimaginable ways, guiding us to find the best spot in our community.

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