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A Chanukah Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

A Chanukiyah is the name for a Chanukah menorah. Today the common practice is to place candles in the Chanukiyah from right to left, and to kindle the lights from left to right. In this way the newest candle is lit first. This approach incorporates the common practice of adding one candle to the Chanukiyah for each successive night of Chanukah.  Yet in

D’var Torah: Parashat Vayeishev

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and (finally) Giving Tuesday. In this period of rampant consumerism, we are reminded of the importance of sharing with others and that each and every one of us can take a step to improve someone else’s life. Giving Tzedakah is a year-round responsibility, and shouldn’t be relegated to just one day. We ought to keep

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

This is a week many, if not most of us, focus on Thanksgiving. Although not technically a “Jewish” holiday, there is much about the holiday that reflects Jewish teachings. Expressing gratitude for what is good in our lives is very much a Jewish value. Thanking God helps us appreciate what we have, rather than obsess

D’var Torah: Parashat Vayeitzei

“There’s a lady who’s sure All that glitters is gold And she’s buying a stairway to heaven” Unlike the woman described above in the Led Zeppelin classic, the staircase in this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei, is not made of gold. Jacob is fleeing to Haran after tricking his father Isaac into giving him his brother Esau’s blessing. Jacob rests for

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

This week marks the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass,” which took place in Germany on November 9, 1938, and many consider the beginning of the Holocaust. Throughout Germany and the newly acquired territories of Austria and Sudetenland, Jews were attacked in the street, in their homes and at their places of

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

“Words of hate must cease… speak words of love, speak words of decency and of respect…When Americans hear that message loud and clear, we can begin to change the tenor of our country.” That was the message offered to our country’s political leaders by Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue in

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

Covenantal blessings and encounters between God and members of Abraham’s household are at the heart of the Torah portions with which we engage at this time of year. Abraham’s welcoming response to the appearance of three strangers in this week’s Torah portion, Vayeira, reminds us of our responsibility to enthusiastically serve others. This is especially true as

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

This past Sunday night we gathered in celebration of Simchat Torah and to consecrate our newest religious school students. It was a joyous evening of singing and dancing with our Torah scrolls and communally acknowledging the importance of Jewish learning. We finished our cycle of Torah reading with the last few verses of Deuteronomy and

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

“Chag Sameach!”  Is the traditional greeting during the holiday of Sukkot. We wish each other a “happy festival.” There are three festivals that the Torah commands us to observe throughout the year, the other two being Passover and Shavuot. Sukkot is also called by two other names, Zeman Simchateinu, meaning “the Season of our Joy” and Chag Ha’asif,

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

As we approach Yom Kippur, a day on which we need to transcend the barriers between us and heaven, may we understand that we will come before God armed only with our prayers and our intentions. May our intentions be sincere and may we find just the right words, so that our teshuvah brings us the healing of which