Rabbi’s Messages

Articles, letters, and other notes from our Rabbi.

Body, Mind, & Spirit “Call the Sabbath a delight.” Isaiah 58:13

Posted on Jun 1, 2018 in Rabbi's Messages

There is so much beauty to enjoy living in Southern California.  We can almost always enjoy being outdoors.  We feel the sun’s warmth on our faces, smell fragrant herbs and flowers, see ragged mountains in the distance, and experience the cool waters of the ocean.  Going outside and appreciating nature as we move our bodies can be rejuvenating.  Now, add the holiness of our day of rest and we have our Body, Mind, and Spirit Shabbat. This creative program is a novel way of celebrating our Sabbath.  The seventh day of the week has for millennia kept the Jewish people together and...

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Our Trip to Israel was Amazing!

Posted on May 2, 2018 in Rabbi's Messages

I was joined by Gale Brooks, Gayle Chait, Kathleen Greenough, Anne Hoogasian, Lynne Horn, Judy Lorber, Cathy & Charlie Niederman, Florence Sudakow, Christine Taxier, Eileen Tobey, and Jackie & Rachel Wiggins. We explored the roots of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in our holy land. Traversing the countryside, we learned about the immense efforts for coexistence, tolerance, and the pursuit of peace. How amazing it was for us to be in Israel as the whole country celebrated its seventieth birthday! The trip had an immense amount of meaning for all of us.  Church of the Holy...

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Charlie Niederman’s Second Bar Mitzvah at 83 years!

Posted on Apr 1, 2018 in Rabbi's Messages

What a great joy it was to celebrate Charlie Niederman’s Bar Mitzvah on March 24, 2018 or 8th day of Nisan 5778 on Shabbat Hagadol. Some of you are aware that Jews can have second Bar or Bat Mitzvah at the age of eighty three. This is because Psalms 90:10 states, “The span of our life is seventy years.” For those who live beyond seventy, it is as though they have second start on life and therefore thirteen years later one can have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.   Larry Davidoff said afterwards that thankfully at 70 years and 8 days there isn’t a second Brit Milah,...

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Save a Life-Prevent Gun Violence

Posted on Mar 4, 2018 in Rabbi's Messages

My heart is broken with the shooting in Florida on February 14. The voices of the teens who survived this terrible shooting has shamed me. I am scared that its just a matter of time before there is a shooting in one of our local schools. It is just a matter of time before I have to do a funeral for a member of your family.  My heart cannot bear the thought. And I know that I am guilty for not taking action and doing everything in my power to reduce the deaths due to gun violence. In our Mishneh, we are taught, “To save a life is to save the world.” For me, this...

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The Revelry & Joy of Purim

Posted on Feb 1, 2018 in Rabbi's Messages

There is no doubt that of all our festivals, Purim is the most fun. What other holiday can kids as well as adults dress up in costume, act irreverently, laugh, get a little wild, and for adults to have the Mitzvah of drinking alcohol? I’m not joking; it is literally a Mitzvah, a commandment, to drink on Purim so much that one doesn’t know the difference between “Blessed Mordecai” or “Cursed be Haman.” In all fairness, though, the rabbis did try to moderate the drinking part and lessen the amount one must or should drink on this joyous holiday. The essence of Purim is...

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Camp Newman Fire & Our Youth

Posted on Jan 3, 2018 in Rabbi's Messages

It has been known for some time that youth who attend Jewish overnight camp end up with stronger Jewish identities well into adulthood.  They are more likely to light candles for Shabbat and Hanukkah, have a connection to Israel, donate to charity, attend synagogue, and participate in Federation. Jewish camp is great for the future of Judaism. For the Reform movement, the Union of Reform Judaism, hosts a number of excellent camps around the country.  At Temple Beth David, we have a special connection with Camp Newman in Northern California.  Thanks to the family of Rabbi Henry Front, may...

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The Joy of Latkes

Posted on Dec 5, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

Hmmmmm, there’s something about the aroma wafting through the room as latkes are frying in oil.  The rich fragrance brings with it a warmth and reminder of a good meal to come. For Ashkenazi Jews (those of East European descent), we eat potato pancakes called latkes during the 8 nights of Hanukkah.  Sephardic Jews, on the other hand, eat jelly filled doughnuts called sufganiot.  Eating foods with oil may not be the healthiest of dietary choices and yet they remind us of the miracles of Hanukkah. After the Maccabees’ victory over the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), they...

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Come Celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday in Israel!

Posted on Oct 31, 2017 in Rabbi's Messages

…and learn about its role as the birthplace of the three main world religions April 12, 2018- April 22, 2018 “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 I am excited to lead our trip to Israel this upcoming April!  I’ve designed this trip for both newcomers and experienced visitors to Israel.  You are welcome to join us whether you are a member of Temple Beth David or just feel a connection to our community. We will explore...

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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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