Honorable Mensch-ion


JAMODI is a made up word. It stands for, “Just a matter of doing it.” It is a term I learned when speaking with high school basketball coach and former Baylor University player Matt Sayman. His coach used to tell him when he practiced as a kid, JAMODI, “Just a matter of doing it.” That was the way he would meet his goals. When Sayman was in college, he experienced a traumatic incident: One of his teammates murdered another teammate. His dreams of being a college star ended because of the actions of others. His faith in God faltered, he hit rock bottom, and he substituted parties for God. In conversation, Coach Sayman compared his journey to Joshua and Moses. Moses hits the rock instead of speaking to it, and in turn, he cannot enter the Promised Land. He hit the rock out of frustration of the people he led. As the greatest leader of our people, Moses’ small actions mattered most in his quest to enter the land of Israel. Those are what his followers observed, and his small mistake was the one that prevented him from entering the Promised Land.

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Healing Prayers

From the day after my Bar Mitzvah until I graduated high school, I was the baal koreh, the Torah reader in the daily minyan. Not only did my Torah reading skills improve drastically; I also had a note that permitted me to be ten minutes late to school on Mondays, Thursdays, Rosh Chodesh, minor fast days, and holidays…for religious reasons. Each time we read the Torah, I recited a mishebeirach, the prayer for those in need of healing.

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The first week of June at Sinai Temple is filled with graduations. The eighth graders of Sinai Akiba Academy complete their middle school studies and move on to high school, the fifth graders move up to middle school within the same sacred synagogue space, and our pre-kindergarteners culminate their pre-school experience ready to soak up Judaism and general studies in lower school. At the pre-school graduation, ECC Director Sarah Klinger read the children’s book What Do You Do With An Idea? The story inspires children to take the ideas in their head, give them the space to grow, and see what happens next.

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Blurry World

Each morning, I say the blessing pokeach ivrim: We thank God for opening our eyes. I take these words literally. Without the assistance of a heavy prescription of contact lenses, I see a blurry world as I wake up.

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No Words

Each week, words freely flow from my fingertips while composing a Shabbat message to our community. Yet, this morning, I stared at a blank page for hours. What words can describe the week that was, the murder of 19 children and two lifelong educators? After days like Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, and a litany too long to list, the simplest question we ask and most difficult to answer is, “Why?”

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Words and Wishes

When I lived in Israel in 2007, I had a return flight to the United States on Lag BaOmer. As the plane took off over the land, you could see bonfire after bonfire, town by town, light up the night sky. That image is hard to recreate in the United States. For many years, my good friend, colleague, and neighbor, Rabbi Jason Fruithandler, and I would take our children to the backyard and attempt to create a small flame as we roasted marshmallows and celebrated the joys of Torah study.

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