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A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

As a nation we find ourselves moving from shock and horror to grief and mourning. Yet, the heart-break remains as the individual stories of the victims of this weekend’s violence begin to surface and they are laid to rest. As our nation mourns, we can’t help but contrast the victims’ humanity with the baseless hatred

D’var Torah: Matot-Masei

Gun violence on both coasts this past weekend offers a very sad reminder that our society is not living up to the ideals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Although promised in the Declaration of Independence, these “unalienable rights” are not being protected by our government. In California, a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old

D’var Torah: Parashat Pinchas

Standing up for what is right often means “speaking truth to power.” While this phrase may be a modern-day one, the idea of asking a community’s leadership to address an injustice is found in this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas. As God and Moses prepare to apportion the land of Canaan among the Israelite tribes, five

D’var Torah: Parashat Balak

From Winnie the Pooh to the donkey in Shrek, children’s literature has many examples of animals who have the ability to speak. And so does Torah! We all know about the snake in the garden of Eden, but some of us may be surprised that this week’s Torah portion, Balak, brings us a talking donkey!

D’var Torah: Parashat Chukat

In studying Torah, we often look to Moses for life lessons. Sometimes, we learn that Moses is an exemplar of values we should strive to emulate. For example, we learn from Moshe Rabbeinu (“Moses our Teacher”) that humility can help us keep our egos in check and help ensure that we are motivated less by

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

Successful leadership sometimes requires voicing an opinion different than that held by the majority. In this week’s Torah portion Sh’lach L’cha, twelve Israelite spies go into the land of Israel to see what it is like and if it is conquerable. Ten spies allow their own feelings of inadequacy to color the vision of what they

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

Leadership isn’t always easy; even Moses sometimes needs help. In this week’s Torah portion from the Book of Numbers, B’haalot’cha, we read that Adonai says to Moses, “Gather for Me seventy elders and officers of the people, and bring them to the Tent of Meeting and let them take their place there with you… they shall share

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

With the introduction of the nazir, an individual who dedicates him or herself to God, the weekly Torah portion identifies a role for religious lay leaders committing themselves to serve in holiness. Aaron and his sons and the rest of the priestly class have a unique role, but the text is teaching that with the appropriate kavanah (meaning ‘intention’)

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

Torah, according to Proverbs 3:18, is a “Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it.” As a Jewish religious institution, all we do at Temple Am Echad must be anchored in the values that Torah teaches. This week that message is found in everything from the weekly Torah portion, to our fundraising to

A Message from Rabbi Sandra Bellush

As we conclude our reading this week of the Book of Leviticus with B’chukotai, we read about monetary gifts that must be made to the sanctuary because of vows or in gratitude for blessings. The portion stresses the importance of acting in support of our religious institutions. At Shabbat services last week we recognized a