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D’var Torah: Parashat Mishpatim

The goal of laws and rules is to impose order in hopes of creating a just and civilized society. For the Israelites who just left Egypt, God provides The Law in the form of the Ten Commandments. The rules that specify the particulars of how The Law is to be carried out are provided in

D’var Torah: Parashat Yitro

In preparing to give the Israelites the Ten Commandments in this week’s Torah portion, Yitro, God tells Moses to say to the Israelites that “you shall be My treasured possession among all the peoples…a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5-6). The idea of having been “chosen” is often misunderstood. The idea is not

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shirah (“the Shabbat of Song) because our Torah portion, B’shalach from Exodus, includes the victory song that Israel offers after salvation at the Sea of Reeds. The poem, called Shirat Hayam (“Song of the Sea”), is attributed to Moses and is the source of the very familiar Mi Chamochah  prayer, which celebrates Israelite freedom from slavery. By coincidence,

D’var Torah: Parashat Bo

Acknowledging God’s role in our lives comes easier to some more than others. It took the Ten Plagues for Pharaoh to understand that Adonai is more powerful than any Egyptian god, as well as more powerful than even Pharaoh himself. We know that because in this week’s Torah portion, Bo, when Pharaoh finally allows the Israelites

A New Year Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

The secular New Year and Rosh Hashanah have in common the idea of starting again, of new beginnings. While teshuvah is a bit different from making resolutions, they are similar if our resolutions are related to being kinder and more understanding and giving, both to others and to ourselves. May the New Year of 2019

D’var Torah: Parashat Vayechi

“Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek.” “Be strong, be strong and let us be strengthened!” These are the words with which the congregation responds when the final verse of one of the five books of  the Torah is read aloud. This week we finish reading Genesis, which culminates in the story of Joseph, and how Jacob’s family and

D’var Torah: Parashat Vayigash

Somewhere along the way on our life journeys, we learn that we should not embarrass others. Public shaming causes another to be embarrassed and is an act of bullying.  In this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash, after many years of estrangement Joseph is about to reveal his true identity to his brothers. Before doing so, he asks that all

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