Thoughts & Teachings

Lessons from our synagogue
  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · New Shabbat - April 26, 2014 10:30 a.m.

    New Shabbat AM is a joyous and reflective Shabbat morning celebration of prayer, song accompanied on guitar by Charlee Sterling, and insight guided by Rabbi Ron Shulman. Using a special prayer book that includes Hebrew transliteration and English reflection, New Shabbat AM seeks to facilitate personal prayer and communal celebration in a concise hour and one-half user-friendly Shabbat Morning Service, during which we talk personally, read and study Torah,... Read More

  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · Yahatz - Breaking the Middle Matzah

    Early in the Seder ritual, we break a piece of matzah, wrap it in a cloth, and hide the larger portion of it for after our meal. In some of our homes, children steal the wrapped matzah from the Seder leader and wait for a good “price” to return it. In other homes, the leader hides the matzah and the children search the house seeking it and then return it only after receiving their prize. Everyone knows the Seder can’t conclude until we eat this hidden matzah... Read More

  • Four Special Shabbatot · Rabbi Debi Wechsler

    This past Shabbat was Shabbat Parah, the first of four special Shabbatot leading up to Pesah, the festival of witnessing. The purpose of the redemption from Egyptian slavery, the purpose of God’s intervention through the plagues and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in the Exodus narrative was, “So that you may tell the story in the hearing of your children and your children’s children.” (Exodus 10:2) We were redeemed from Egypt so that we might tell the story... Read More

  • Purim · Rabbi Ronald J. Shulman

    Why didn’t Mordecai bow down to Haman? After all, that is how the whole megilah gets started, right? Well not quite! But it is Mordecai’s act of disobedience and disrespect that motivates Haman’s desire to destroy the Jews of Shushan. When the other men in King Ahashueros’ court asked Mordecai why he refused to bow before Haman, all Mordecai told them was that he was a Jew. Why didn’t Mordecai bow down to Haman? Perhaps he felt that, as a Jew, it was not appropriate... Read More

  • Rabbi Deborah Wechsler · Parshat Tetzaveh

    From the first parashah in the book of Shemot, of Exodus, Moses appears or is mentioned in every single parashah until the very last verses of the Torah.  He is written in to every account, every interaction, and every command.  Except for this week in Parshat Tetzaveh.  This is the only week from the moment Moses is born until the moment he records the story of his own death that Moses neither appears nor is mentioned. The Sages suggest two reasons for this... Read More

  • Rabbi Deborah Wechsler · Parshat Bo

    On 4 occasions the Torah tells us to teach our children and instruct them in the path of Judaism.  Each of the four passages has a direct connection with Pesach.  Three of the four are found in this week’s parshah, the fourth later in Devarim.  They are tied to what we know famously from the hagaddah, ve higadata le vinkha ba yom ha hu, you shall tell your son on that day, saying it is because of this which God did for me when he brought me out of Egypt.” (Exodus... Read More

  • Rabbi Debi Wechsler · Parshat Shemot

    This week a hero is born, a savior, you might say. We read the very beginning of the Book of Shemot and are told of the birth of Moses, a baby so beautiful that his mother hides him from sight for three months. And when she can no longer hide him, she puts him into a wicker basket and leaves him among the reeds by the bank of the Nile River.  But no woman who has spent nine months waiting for the birth of a child would just leave him unaccompanied.  Va tay... Read More

  • Rabbi Deborah Wechsler · Parshat Vayiggash

    How do you measure the growth of a person? We talk a lot about growth – professional, personal. We hold it out as a value as a goal, something we strive for. Certainly for ourselves, as parents, we look to see it in our children, as teachers we work towards it in our students. It’s often easier to see it in others than to see it in ourselves. In the Joseph narrative that occupies the end of the book of Genesis, it is Joseph’s growth which most often engages... Read More

  • Hanukkah Lighting · Chizuk Amuno Congregation

    How do you light your hanukkiyah? The Talmud in tractate Shabbat records four traditions of how to light a hanukkiyah: The mitzvah of Hanukkah is one light for a man and his household. The zealous kindle a light for each member of the household. Beit Shammai maintain: On the first day eight lights are lit and thereafter they are gradually reduced. Beit Hillel say: On the first day one is lit and thereafter they are progressively increased. Those... Read More

  • Rabbi Deborah Wechsler · Parshat Vayera

    God and Abraham stood together on the precipice.  Both looking out on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  God had decided to destroy the cities and had shared with Abraham His intentions.  Together they went down, and stood, and tried to determine if the people in those towns had acted according to the outcry that had reached all the way up to God. And together they had to decide who to save. “Will you sweep away the innocent along with the guilty?” Abraham... Read More

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April 12, 2014

The Function of Freedom

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  • May the freedom we celebrate on Passover and the memories we share around our Seder Tables inspire our efforts and guide our values...

    May the freedom we celebrate on Passover and the memories we share around our Seder Tables inspire our efforts and guide our values from now into the future. Hag Sameah v'Kasher. May we enjoy a happy and meaningful Passover.

    Read More -Happy Passover!
  • Prayerful wonder: how could life in this grand and glorious world be worthy of its beauty and mystery if who we are is of little consequence?...

    Prayerful wonder: how could life in this grand and glorious world be worthy of its beauty and mystery if who we are is of little consequence? We need this awareness. Created in God's image, who we are matters. What we do matters. How we do it matters, too.

    Read More -Who We Are Matters
  • Ours is a tradition rooted in marking off the weeks, the months, the seasons, and the years. Judaism is a religion of time. We experience...

    Ours is a tradition rooted in marking off the weeks, the months, the seasons, and the years. Judaism is a religion of time. We experience God in time not object, in history not place. We identify sacred time and ordinary time, living in concentric calendars of culture, religious values, public dates and personal occasions. As we begin the secular year 2014, may we know that time is the first and ultimate gift we receive. We measure time in order to give it meaning. That’s our responsibility, to bring meaning to the experiences of our lives. May 2014 be a time of meaning, goodness, and peace.

    Read More -2014