Shabbat Shalom, April 30, 2021

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Dear Friends,

Prior to being admitted to rabbinic school, I was required to take a series of psychological tests that included a Rorschach Test. One by one the psychologist administering the test placed an inkblot in front of me and asked what I saw. It is an interesting test to take.  Initially I saw nothing more than paper covered with ink stains. It didn’t take long before I started seeing images in each new inkblot that he placed before me. But here’s the thing: what I saw in those ink blots said a lot about me and absolutely nothing about the inkblot itself. I “read into” the inkblot my experiences and my needs. So while each applicant was presented with the exact same inkblots, we each saw something different in them.

In recent days I’ve been thinking about the parallels between those inkblots and synagogues. Just as each applicant saw …

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Shabbat Shalom, April 23, 2020

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Dear Friends,

Earlier this week I had a thought that has stayed with me. It puts the journey we have been through over the past year, the loss, pain and sometimes trauma we have encountered
in a new light. And it hinges on the concept of liminal moments. A liminal moment is a moment or an encounter that separates life experiences.

We all have such moments in our lives.

Opening the letter accepting me into rabbinic school was a liminal moment. My life was different after opening the letter than it was before.

Standing beneath our chuppah and reciting the words “Harei At… be consecrated to me…” to Raina was a liminal moment. That experience dramatically changed both of our lives.

In fact, if we look at the various rituals that are part of Jewish life, we quickly see that each focuses on a liminal moment in the life of …

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My Israel Story (thus far) in Three Parts: Shabbat Shalom…

My Israel Story (thus far) in Three Parts

As Israel marked 73 years since its founding yesterday, I couldn’t help but think back upon my own “Israel journey.” And I realized it can be divided into three general stages.

Stage 1: Mythic Israel

Stage 1

My first trip to Israel took place in 1978 when I celebrated becoming Bnai Mitzvah on Masada. From the first moment I stepped off the plane I knew this was a different kind of trip. I was overwhelmed to hear Hebrew being spoken in the airport. (Having been a poor Religious School student I didn’t understand a word but it was still powerful.) As corny as it might sound, as we traveled the country I felt as if I had come home.

I was amazed by the archaeology. And I was moved by the realization that, no matter where I stepped, I was walking on ground that …

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Shabbat Shalom

Screenshot 2020-03-28 16.25.21 IMG_2B56523064AA-1Dear Friends,

Our TSTI in Israel group had just entered the incredibly powerful Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem. I had told the group we would meet them at the exit because one of our participants was on a personal mission. She, one of her daughters, and I headed away from the Children’s Memorial and, after a brisk walk, found ourselves in Yad Vashem’s Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations.

As Wikipedia explains:

The Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations is part of the much larger Yad Vashem complex located on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. Along with some two dozen different structures within the Yad Vashem memorial – which is the second most-visited destination in the country after the Western Wall – the Garden of the Righteous is meant to honor those non-Jews who during the Holocaust risked their lives to save Jews from extermination by the …

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Shabbat Shalom April 2, 2021

This week’s Shabbat Message is part of Great MetroWest NJ’s Bit of Torah program. A video of it can be seen here on Facebook.

My thanks to GMW for the invitation to be part of Bit of Torah.

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Dear Friends,

This week we began our Passover festival by retelling the story of our ancestors’ escape from Egypt. And now, a week later, our festival of freedom is coming to an end.

As I look back over yitziyatt mitzrayim — the story of our ancestors’ exodus from Egypt — there is a small turn of phrase that always captures my imagination. We are told that when our ancestors left Egypt — gam erav rav alah itam — “and a mixed multitude went up with them.“

This phrase is often interpreted to mean that it wasn’t just the Israelites who left Egypt.

For example, the Reform Movement’s Plaut Commentary explains that …

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