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A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

At the end of this week is Rosh Chodesh Elul, which begins a month of spiritual preparation before the High Holy Days. Among the customs of Elul are blowing the shofar at morning services as a reminder of the approaching New Year and the recitation of Psalm 27, which states Achat shaalti mei-eit Adonai (“One thing do I ask of Adonai“)…

D’var Torah: Parashat Eikev

Expressing appreciation helps cultivate positive feelings and healthy relationships. Hakarat Hatov, the Jewish value of expressing appreciation, is incorporated into our prayer service. The Amidah, the central portion of the service which is offered while standing, includes a prayer called Hoda’ah, which means “gratitude.” In this week’s Torah portion, Eikev, Moses shares with the Israelites that God is bringing them into “a good

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad  (Deuteronomy 6:4). The Shema is an unusual prayer. While prayers are often directed to God, the Shema is more a theological statement of belief. How the words are translated, contributes to its meaning. After translating the beginning as “Hear, O Israel,” we might translate the second part in one

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

The end of last week brought us to Rosh Chodesh Av. Although July is a time that many of us are enjoying summer vacations and time in the sun, Av’s most notable feature is a time associated with mourning and loss. Our tradition teaches that on Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av), which begins at the end of this week’s Shabbat, both Temples

D’var Torah: Chukat

Leadership can be rewarding, but, at the same time, it can also be challenging. Even Moses reaches a point of such frustration with the Israelites that in this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, he lashes out. Moses calls them “rebels” and rather than follow God’s instructions to speak in order to bring forth water from a rock, Moses strikes the

D’var Torah: Korach

Questioning authority, asking for explanations and looking for divine signs are all part of our Jewish tradition and woven into this week’s Torah portion, Korach, from the Book of Numbers.  On the surface, the story has Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership being questioned by others who feel they are just as capable and entitled. Not only are they proven wrong,

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

Early on the morning of Saturday, June 28, 1969, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning persons protested following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar at 43 Christopher Street, in NYC. This and further protests over the following nights created a milestone moment in the modern LGBTQ rights movement. As a result of this initial step, and many

D’var Torah: B’haalotecha

The perception of helplessness often brings about selective memory. Once something is out of mind, we no longer focus energy on trying to change it. Wearing bright orange clothing this coming Friday will not in and of itself prevent gun violence, but it will help keep the issue at the forefront of our collective thoughts. Perhaps it will remind us to

D’var Torah: Naso

For the second week in a row the weekly Torah portion deals with the need for a census of the Israelites. Last week God called for a census in B’midbar, as an assessment of the Israelites’ military force. This week in Naso God calls for an additional census with a special emphasis on who is available for the various tasks associated

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

After a whirlwind of sightseeing, fascinating conversations and moments of spirituality and blessing, the participants in Temple Am Echad’s pilgrimage to Israel are safely home. Although we’ve already shared our trip by posting photographs, conversations about how to better share our experiences with our Temple family are already taking place. Hopefully, trip participant postings to