Shabbat Shalom, July 23, 2021

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Dear Friends,

Raina and I spent a few days up in the Finger Lakes earlier this week. We hiked, did some wine tasting and ate some good food. The last night we were there we were scheduled to do a sunset cruise and local beer tasting on the True Love, a gorgeous 60’ schooner. When we got to the dock the weather was “iffy.” After a brief delay we headed out. The water was calm and there was minimal wind. Despite the lack of wind the crew raised the sails. They fluttered gently and, while they weren’t making a material difference, they looked pretty.

Suddenly, things changed. The storm we had been watching on radar had turned and was coming in quickly. The water became rough and the wind picked up. Suddenly, the sails were no longer decorative. They caught the wind and we began to pick up speed. …

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Statement on Antisemitism from South Orange and Maplewood

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Statement from the South Orange Board of Trustees and Maplewood Township Committee Regarding Antisemitism

We are proud to live in and serve the South Orange and Maplewood communities. The diversity of our towns add to their richness and, for many of us, was one of the reasons we were drawn to these communities.

Living in diversity brings with it not only blessings but also responsibility. We have not been immune to the increased bias and hate that has taken root in our nation in recent years. We are grateful that time and time again, when those who seek to sow seeds of hate by targeting one group or another, we have lived our responsibility to make clear that “Hate Has No Home Here”.

 When transgender patriots serving our military were the focus of discrimination, we gathered to hoist a transgender flag in the center of town. …

https://www.southorange.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2102&fbclid=IwAR1TXVupay3eGytGwEKUTkcSMkMPFkYDt58uNb_-2J2HwnPQPUtiaUNQ4zI

 

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Shabbat Shalom, July 16

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Dear Friends,

One of my favorite rabbinic stories explains that love was the determining factor that led to the location of the ancient Jerusalem Temple.

The story is told that two brothers had each inherited half of their father’s farm. One of the brothers was married and had a large family; the other brother was single. They lived on opposite sides of a hill.

One night during harvest time, the single brother tossed about in bed. “How can I rest comfortably and take a full half of the yield, when my brother has so many more mouths to feed?” So he arose, gathered bushels of produce and quietly climbed the hill to bring them over to his brother’s barn.

Meanwhile, his brother across the hill also could not sleep. “How can I enjoy my full share of the produce and not be concerned with my brother? He is alone in

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Shabbat Shalom- July 2, 2021

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Dear Friends,

I’m taking a few weeks off for R&R. While I’m away I thought I might share some of my favorite Jewish stories and a thought or two on each. This week’s story is one of my all-time favorites.

There was once a king who owned an enormous and incredibly beautiful diamond. Every day, the king took the diamond from its jewel-encrusted box and looked with awe as the gem transformed sunlight into magnificent, shimmering kaleidoscopes of color. It made him very happy.

One day, the king accidentally dropped the diamond. It grazed the side of its box and then fell heavily to the floor of the throne room. Picking it up, the king found a long, jagged scratch down one side of the stone. Horrified, he immediately called upon his royal jewelers to repair the gem, but they were unable to do so. The king then called upon

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Pride Shabbat, June 11, 2021

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“It is not up to you to finish the task but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Pirke Avot)

Dear Friends,

In recent days I’ve been thinking about the genius of our nation’s founders. When describing this nation, a nation whose imperfections and inequities were clear from the very beginning, they used the term “more perfect union.” They had high aspirations for their nation but were aware of its many flaws. In this way they were, at one and the same time, both realistic and aspirational.

Almost 250 years later America is still an imperfect union.

Almost 250 years later, there is still a great deal of work to do if we are to overcome systemic racism, gender inequity, bias against the LGBTQIA+ community, islamophobia and of course, anti-Semitism. Recognizing that these social inequities still exist is painful, but it does not lessen my love or appreciation for …

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Shabbat Shalom June 4, 2021

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I was speaking to a dear friend of mine some time ago when she suddenly told me she had to get off the phone and run the .30 odd .30 rifle down to her husband Kevin.

Now I suspect that for many of you that might seem rather strange. It actually wasn’t. You see, my friends Judie and Kevin are ranchers in Texas. They have all kinds of wildlife that appears on the ranch from time to time including the huge rattlesnake that took up residence on their front porch at one point. On this occasion the culprit was a 400 pound feral hog that was posing a threat to both their livestock and themselves. As someone born and raised in suburban New Jersey I’m not an expert on feral hogs but I hear they are pretty nasty.
A short time later, Judie came back, told me that they had …

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Thoughts, Prayers and the Surge in Anti-Semitism

My Shabbat Message for May 28, 2021
Thoughts, Prayers and the Surge in Anti-Semitism

Dear Friends,

The weather has turned warmer. The trees are full and the flowers have blossomed. At this moment, it is a bit chilly but the windows are open. After months inside, the fresh air is more than a welcomed guest, it is a lifeline. And we are increasingly able to be together without (or to be fair, with less) fear for ourselves and one another.

There is so much to celebrate at this moment but, at least for me, much of this positivity has been dulled by the recent surge in anti-semitic incidents. Between May 7 and May 14 the hashtag #Hitlerwasright appeared more than 17,000 times on Twitter, and it has been accompanied by a similarly shocking rise in the number of anti-semitic incidents taking place.

I am sad. I am concerned. But I …

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Shabbat Shalom, May 21, 2021

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Join us for Shabbat in the Lot (masked please) or on Zoom this evening at 6pm. During services tonight we will hear from, and celebrate, our 10th grade Confirmands. Those of you worshipping via Zoom can download the service handout here.


 

Dear Friends,

I want to be a bit more personal in my Shabbat Message this week. Instead of looking at a verse of Torah or a teaching from the Talmud, I want to offer a window into some of my inner conflict, interspersed with the words from a powerful Op Ed by Kenneth Jacobson, ADL’s Deputy National Director. (You can read the piece in its entirety here.)

I love Israel. Since my first trip to Israel at the age of 13, it has held a special place in my heart and in my soul. When I am there, I feel a deeper connection to our …

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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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