Rabbi’s Messages

Articles, letters, and other notes from our Rabbi.

The Blast of the Ram’s Horn

Posted on Sep 1, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

I’m running my fingers along the smooth polished ram’s horn. I can feel its ridges and see the shades of onyx, sand, and specks of amber. Raising the narrow aperture to my pursed lips, I take a deep breath and then struggle to make a sound. After some false starts, a high pitched shriek echoes from its tusk.  How do you feel when you hear the shofar sounded at Rosh Hashanah? On the one hand, it is joyously primal. Seeing a man or woman standing in front of a crowded sanctuary, blowing the ram’s horn, feels exciting. However, when its screech pierces the sanctuary,...

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Body, Mind & Spirit on Shabbat

Posted on Aug 1, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

Years ago, I created an experience for us to engage in physical activity, utilize our minds, and engage our spirit as a way of enhancing Shabbat. Body, Mind, & Spirit Shabbat has become a beloved part of our Temple Beth David Saturday morning Shabbat celebration for the last three years.  We have walked through El Dorado park, Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Talbert Nature preserve, and Seal Beach. We have hiked in Peter’s Canyon, Santiago Oaks, Laguna Coast Wilderness, and Monrovia. A few of us biked along the San Gabriel Riverway. And we have done Tai chi, yoga, kayaking,...

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Camp Newman Summer

Posted on Jul 1, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

On Monday, July 3, I’ll be driving up to Camp Newman for my third summer. For the past few years, we have been sending our youth to the Union for Reform Judaism’s California Jewish overnight camp.  I have seen first hand, the joy our kids have in making new friends, developing leadership skills, and deepening their Jewish identities.  The activities are varied and include prayer, sessions on Judaism, sports, crafts, swimming, and creative group programming. This year, we have ten youth attending from our synagogue. They are: Shane Prunty, Jessa Kleinman, Dani...

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New Model for Dues

Posted on Jun 1, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

For over fifty years, we are a community that supports one another in times of need, celebrates the joys of life, prays, and learns within a Reform Jewish congregation.  We are fortunate to have outstanding music for Shabbat, High Holy days, and festival services. Our preschool prepares our children to excel in elementary school and beyond. Our religious school gives our students Judaic knowledge and a love for Judaism.  We have meaningful Bar/Bat Mitzvah services and dynamic youth groups for teens. For our adults, we have ongoing lectures and educational opportunities...

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Relive the Israelites trek through the wilderness!

Posted on May 1, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

What would it be like to be an Israelite newly freed from Egypt traversing the desert? Have you ever wanted to meet Moses, Miriam, or Moses? Well, you will have this opportunity on Tuesday night, May 30, starting at 7:00 p.m. Just by showing up, you will instantly become one of the Israelites newly freed from Egypt. Crossing the sea of Reeds, you will rejoice with Miriam, Aaron, and Moses as you begin your trek through the wilderness. It will not be easy though for there will be challenges of hunger and a need to forage for food. As a descendant of the ancient Israelites, you...

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Is it Kosher for Passover?

Posted on Apr 1, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

“And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for in this same day have I brought your ranks out of the land of Egypt; therefore shall you observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty first day of the month at evening. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger, or born in the land. You shall...

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Stressed? Come and Laugh

Posted on Mar 1, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

Many of us are under a lot of stress. There are always personal challenges. We have to deal with difficult members of our family, bosses, employees, friends, and students. It’s hard to go very long without unwanted drama. Even if our personal relationships calm down, there are financial challenges with surprise costs associated with our homes, children, and health. And of course, many of us find the political climate in our country disheartening. I hear frequently of your concerns about our current administration and the direction of our nation. Sigh. So I have to say, we need...

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How many Holocaust scrolls do we have at TBD?

Posted on Feb 1, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

From the beginning of my tenure at our synagogue, I was told that the middle scroll in our ark was our Holocaust scroll. I believed this because the parchment looks burnt and damaged in many places. By the way, we use this Torah regularly. Most of our Bnei Mitzvah students carry it because it is lighter than the other Torahs. We read from it during our Second Day Rosh Hashanah service at the Huntington Beach pier and at select times throughout the year such as at Shavuot. I have been aware that the seams are coming apart especially at the revelation of the Ten Commandments. It had become...

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Temple Beth David Trip to Israel or Europe?

Posted on Jan 1, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

It was only a few years ago that we took members of Temple Beth David on a trip to Israel in March 2014. Andrea Tabor has been asking me to arrange another Temple trip oversees either to Israel or Europe. We are thinking of spring 2018 but that really depends on you. Here are some reflections on our experience of Israel from a few years ago. “Every time I go to Israel it is in many ways like going home, it is welcoming and comfortable to be in the only country where what we do as Jews is the norm and the way of life.” Charlie Niederman “Right as we touched down in Israel I knew I had...

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I Like to Cook

Posted on Nov 1, 2016 in Rabbi's Messages

I purchased some nice bright orange sugar pie pumpkins. I slice them in half and scoop out their seeds to reserve for roasting later on. As the pumpkin bakes in the oven, I knead flour into cold chunks of butter with my fingertips until I have dough. The pie crust chills in the fridge. Within a couple of hours, I puree the roasted pumpkin with cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, eggs, and brown sugar and fill my flaky crust with it. As it bakes in the oven, the spices fill the kitchen and house. Later, it becomes my perfect pumpkin pie. Even though I’m quite busy being a congregational rabbi...

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