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Giving Thanks for American Jewish Life

As our thoughts turn to celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded that the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock as strangers in a strange land. Throughout history, Jews have been the strangers in strange lands over and over again. Wandering, moving from place to place, has always been a part of our story. In this

The Light of Kislev

Yesterday was Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. In concluding the past month of Cheshvan, we are  reminded that some refer to it as “Marcheshvan,” and consider “mar,” which means “bitterness,” a reminder that the month has no additional holidays beyond Shabbat. It is a harsh contrast with the holiday-laden month of Tishri, which comes

Honoring Loss to “Never Forget”

This week marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht, which occurred in Germany on the night of November 9th, 1938. “The night of broken glass,” is generally considered to mark the beginning of the Holocaust. On Kristallnacht, many Jewish homes, synagogues, and businesses in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe were destroyed, resulting in streets covered with glass from the shattered windows. Marking this and other

A Prayer for Our Country

Much more so than ever before in recent history, our nation’s politics have taken a toll on our spiritual well-being. Today is not the first time we have anxiously awaited election results. Yet, it may be one of the first times that so much uncertainty over the validity of the results exists before the actual

Meeting Our Responsibilities

This week and next we have the opportunity to participate in the governance of communities of which we are a part. The first is our own Temple Am Echad Congregational Meeting to be zoomed on Thursday night. The second is next Tuesday, November 3rd, Election Day. In both cases, we have a responsibility to know

In the Beginning…

So begins the entire Torah. This week we are reading the very first Torah portion in the very first book, Bereshit, and we read of creation. There is creation of the cosmos, order and light from chaos and darkness, as well as creation of humanity. Torah is neither science, nor history, but it is the

Our Joy and Celebration Continues

While Chag Sukkot lasts a full seven days, the Hebrew calendar rewards us with the additional celebrations immediately afterward of Simchat Torah and Sh’mini Atzeret. Most of us are familiar with our evening celebration of Simchat Torah, which includes carrying all our Torah scrolls around the sanctuary (hakafah, or hakafot, pl.) seven times while upbeat

Zeman Simchateinu: The Time of Our Rejoicing

With the Ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur behind us, the Hebrew calendar quickly transitions to the Festival of Sukkot, a time of joyous celebration. Our ancestors gathered to celebrate the harvest and remember the times of wilderness wanderings, which required living in temporary dwellings. Today our sukkot (pl. of sukkah) remind us of our

Shabbat Shuvah

The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is know as Shabbat Shuvah, “the Sabbath of Return.” It takes its name from the haftarah which comes from the Prophet Hosea. שׁ֚וּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל עַ֖ד יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ כִּ֥י כָשַׁ֖לְתָּ בַּעֲוֺנֶֽךָ׃ Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, For you have fallen because of your sin (Hos.14:2). The idea

A Very Different High Holy Day Experience

It could be said at the beginning of each and every High Holy Day season, “This year the High Holy Days will be a very different experience,” because each and every year, we are different. Hopefully, we have been able to act on and grow spiritually from the cheshbon hanefesh, the self-accounting, of the year