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The Joseph saga

December 18, 2017

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The great and most colorful Joseph saga extends over four Torah portions and 13 chapters. How opportune it is as we celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah and the reading of Joseph’s awesome adventures, that the Jewish experience has often been to find ourselves like Joseph in the darkness of the pit without losing faith in [...]

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How much God do we need?

December 1, 2017

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Every Jewish child grows up hearing, at Hanukkah time, the story of “the miracle of the oil,” how one day’s supply of consecrated oil lasted eight days as the Temple was rededicated. It’s explained as the reason Hanukkah lasts eight days and why we eat foods fried in oil during the holiday. But is the [...]

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Vayetze (Genesis 28:10-32:3)

November 20, 2017

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With the blessing and urging of both father Isaac and mother Rebekah, Jacob leaves home. Indeed, he flees. There are two reasons for his hasty departure: Esau’s wrath and the need for a proper bride. The complex and conflicting dynamics in the household of Abraham’s son Isaac—Remember Abrahams’s own dilemmas—were due in part to Isaac’s [...]

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Serving while Jewish

November 2, 2017

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The 1890s was an era in some ways like our own. Anti-immigrant hatreds in America were on the rise, even as businesses relied on the immigrants for low-wage labor. American nativist and racist groups were making new recruits and calling for the exclusion of the foreign-born. High up on the list of targets of the [...]

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Lech-Lecha

October 20, 2017

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(Genesis 12:1–17:27) Noah was destined to be neither the father of the Jewish people nor the founder of our faith. Though the most righteous in his corrupt generation, he failed to reach out and save human lives besides those of his family. Thus, the rabbis who were aware of Noah’s disturbing limitations in the terse, [...]

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The Yom Kippur Cake

September 25, 2017

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Thank G-d, I am married to an amazing woman and have five incredible boys. Every year at anniversaries and birthdays we celebrate each other, give gifts, eat cake, or in my wife’s case, a lot of chocolate, and the next day, our lives continue. We celebrate, sing, take pictures, and then we don’t really consider [...]

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Kee Tavo

September 8, 2017

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(Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) With the High Holy Days 5778 soon upon us, how reflective of their grateful spirit and challenging thrust is this Parasha! The Israelites were taught that re-entering the Promised Land is more than a physical act. At the core of this great adventure is a spiritual drama calling for giving thanks through a [...]

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Think Positive

August 11, 2017

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For congregational rabbis, this is a season of anxiety, but also of hope. The arrival of the seven Haftarot of Consolation after Tisha b’Av reminds us that we have less than two months to get our sermons written and services planned for the High Holy Days. (Had I not been rabbinically formed in seminary, I [...]

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Father, mother, parent, you: God is beyond our language

June 9, 2017

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About two decades ago, a bat mitzvah student asked me a familiar question, but with a surprising twist. She said, “Rabbi, is God a He?” And I answered, “No, He’s not.” Then we both thought for two seconds about what I had just said, and simultaneously, we burst out laughing. My student had just learned [...]

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Taking the plunge

May 26, 2017

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Three thousand, three hundred, and twenty-nine years ago, Moshe (Moses) announced to the Jewish people that He would be ascending Mount Sinai to receive the Torah for the Jewish people. The Midrash tells us that the Jewish people protested. They said, “We want to see our G-d; we want to receive the Torah directly from [...]

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