Rabbi’s Corner

Ma Nishtanah: How different will this year be?

Rabbi Robert Eisen

Ma nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol halailot  …?  How do we read that phrase? How is this night different from all other nights … or, How different this night is from all other nights! The first is what we are taught, the latter is how it could be better (more… Read more »

The synagogue remains at the heart of Jewish life

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

  What is the most important institution in Jewish life? Judaism has existed for 3,800 years, and over the centuries we’ve had a variety of organizations that have effectively served God and the Jewish people.  Each has played an important role in the continual evolution of our religion and… Read more »

Take the speech improvement challenge

Rabbi Israel Becker

Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Talmud taught us that when a person leaves this world, he/she will be shown their entire life. Our private showing will include audio and video playback of every single conversation of ours. Every single word that we uttered during our lifetime will be presented.… Read more »

Election overload sparks thoughts of G-d

Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin

At a recent political fundraiser, an acquaintance made an interesting comment. He said he was jealous that, although I am an American resident, I had my native country of Canada on which to fall back. My buddy, a political junkie, was referring to the presidential elections in November. If… Read more »

Being Jewish: It’s not just for holidays, milestone moments

Almost every person can recall the myths they accepted as fact as a child, until a knowledgeable adult, dictionary or Google has proved them otherwise. I used to believe that bats are blind. (While they do use echolocation at night, they still have functioning eyes.) Another myth I believed… Read more »

Rabbi’s corner: Our partnership in the Lord’s ministry

Rabbi Thomas Louchheim

Back in March, I had two possible meetings to attend, occurring at the same time. One was a Jewish Federation meeting and the other was a zoning hearing at City Hall. I told representatives from both that I would be out of town visiting family. Both times I hung… Read more »

How we respond to sorrow

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

Two consequential decisions were made by Ahasuerus, King of Persia in the 4th century BCE. Both elicited the same crisis management, as told in the Book of Esther, which we will read on the upcoming holiday of Purim (Wednesday night, March 23 and Thursday, March 24). The first was… Read more »

Eternal light not just symbol of God’s presence

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

A key feature of a synagogue tour is the ner tamid, the eternal light. We explain to people unfamiliar with synagogue symbolism that the light represents God’s eternal presence. But is it that simple? The Torah describes in detail the menorah, the seven-branched lamp stand, which was one of… Read more »

It’s past time to rise up against gun violence

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron

The bumper sticker on the car in front of me read “my loved one was murdered.” I automatically fill in “by gun violence.” I know the statistics. I want to jump out of my car and say to this person, “I am so sorry.” We are weeping in my… Read more »

In special year, mitzvah 612 fosters faith, unity

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

The Jewish year of 5776 has just begun and we are certain that it will be a wonderful year. In the words of the Kohen Gadol (high priest) during the Yom Kippur service, may it be a year of light, of blessing, of rejoicing, of happiness, of glory and… Read more »

At new year, have gratitude for God’s latitude

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

We are about to begin the yearly journey of the Jewish fall holidays, examining the choices we continually make and the way our choices have worked out for us in the past year. The last month of the Jewish year, Elul, is bracketed by Torah portions from Deuteronomy that… Read more »

In New Year, give bigotry, racism no quarter

Rabbi Thomas Louchheim

In one month, many of us will gather in our synagogues, ob­serving the beginning of the New Year. Ten days later we will fast and be called to look beyond our needs and our yearnings to care for those whose basic needs are not being met. I realize today… Read more »

Unlike Moses, let transitions lead to growth

Rabbi Batsheva Appel

In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, we find that after almost 40 years of journey in the wilderness, Israel has learned more about how to be a community and about how to be a community that has a covenant with God by doing what God wants. Things have changed… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: Eight words that changed Jefferson’s mind

Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin

It took only eight sincere words to rekindle the close connection between two American luminaries that had been shattered by political wars and opposing ideologies. Those eight words helped restore the bond of two Founding Fathers, both of whom served as presidents of the United States. Thomas Jefferson and… Read more »

Unsure about new practices? Think ‘not yet’ instead of ‘no’

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

I recently read a long document about how to make a kitchen kosher for Passover. The work involved at that level of detail took my breath away. Transforming a kitchen to the highest level of observance is on one end of a continuum.The Jews who can’t be bothered to… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: Celebrate Passover in your heart and soul

Rabbi Robert Eisen

The holiday of Passover that many of us are eagerly anticipating is known by many names, each of which reflects a different dimension of what we will be celebrating. While we are usually more concerned with who may or may not be present at our seder table (finding the… Read more »

Our present determines our future

Rabbi Israel Becker

Two weeks ago, we read that Moses’ father-in-law Yisro’s life changed forever when he heard of the massive miracles that occurred for the Jewish people as they left Egypt. At our Pesach seder, we remember these miracles, the 10 plagues, the splitting of the sea, etc. But one dimension… Read more »

Needs of others, and of G-d, at root of performing mitzvot

Rabbi Ephraim Zimmerman

Picture this: The day at work is almost over and, remembering that you need to pick up some groceries, you mention to your coworker that you’ll be stopping at Sprouts on the way home. Her ears perk up and she asks you for a favor. She’s been wanting to… Read more »

At Chanukah, kashrut reminder of miracles

Rabbi Israel Becker

There is a specific kosher law pertaining to sirloin steak and filet mignon that contains a hidden message about miracles and survival. This law actually dates back to a dramatic episode recorded in the Torah, when our patriarch Jacob, returning to Israel with his young and large family, was… Read more »

Taking a cue from the midterm elections

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

By the time you read this column, results of the 2014 midterm elections in the United States will already be announced, reported, chewed over and, depending on your political affiliation, celebrated or bemoaned. “Every single thing that a person sees or hears, is an instruction to him in his… Read more »