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D’var Torah: Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

To be holy as God is holy — that is what this week’s Torah portion, the double portion of Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, offers us. It presents the ritual and ethical laws that, if followed, will make the Jewish people a “holy” people. Biblical scholars use the term “The Holiness Code” to describe the section of Leviticus

On Tears and Joy

70 years!!!!! Israel celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut, the anniversary of its independence, this week on Thursday. First, though, on the day before, Wednesday, it pays tribute to all it’s fallen soldiers on Yom Hazikaron, a day of remembrance. It is a stark and moving reminder of the lives lost in creation and defense of this small

A Passover Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

Temple’s community Seder, held on the second night of the holiday, was a resounding success! We returned to using the Reform Movement’s Baskin Haggadah, and the richness of its liturgy brought greater meaning to our Seder experience.  The variety of Haggadot  we have to choose from are almost as many as the variations that take place at each of our Seders. As Reform Jews we

Combating a Modern-Day Plague

Last Saturday March for Our Lives demonstrations across the country refocused our collective attention on the issue of gun violence prevention. I was privileged to attend the march in Long Beach with more than 35 members of Am Echad. Our Temple was represented in many of the marches which took place that day, including New

D’var Torah: Tzav

I write these words from Irvine, CA, at the 129th annual CCAR Conference. When hundreds of Reform Rabbis gather together, prayer, study and learning are top priorities. Yet it’s the impromptu conversations with colleagues and old friends between sessions and at meals which often provide the camaraderie and renewal that are among the highlights of

D’var Torah: Vayikra

Worship through prayer is often referred to as “an offering of the heart.” Without the proper kavannah (intention), our prayers are meaningless. By studying this week’s Torah portion Vayikra, the first in the Book of Leviticus, we learn that the ancient sacrifices our ancestors brought to the priests also needed to have the appropriate kavannah. Whether a burnt offering, a meal offering, a

D’var Torah: Vayak’heil-P’kudei

Bezalel and Oholiab are the artisans whom God endows with the skill to design and create the beautiful works required for the Mishkan, the Israelite’s portable sanctuary in the wilderness. In this week’s double Torah portion Vayak’heil-P’kudei, we learn that everyone in the community who excelled in the skills needed to create the Mishkan came forward to participate in its creation. Not

A Purim Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

Purim sameach!!!! Happy Purim!!!! There are four mitzvot (commandments) associated with the holiday: Mikra Megillah – Reading of the Megillah (The Book of Esther) Seudat Purim – A festive Purim meal Mishloach Manot – Sending gifts (which often take the form of Purim bags and baskets) Matanot L’evyonim –  Gifts to the poor Although the third and fourth mizvot on the

On Adar and Shabbat Zachor

We read in the Talmud, “When the month of Adar enters, joy increases” Ta’anit 29a). Last week we observed Rosh Chodesh Adar, the beginning of the Hebrew month of Adar. The joy of Adar relates, of course, to the holiday of Purim, which we will celebrate with a shpiel and Megillah reading next week on

D’var Torah: Terumah

Gifts are often given for one of many reasons: from feeling obligated to give to being motivated to give by love. Terumah, meaning “gifts” is the name of this week’s Torah portion. God instructs Moses to ask that the Israelites bring gifts to build the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that the Israelites build while wandering in the wilderness. God’s instructions are qualified with