Thoughts & Teachings

Lessons from our synagogue
  • The Prophet Elijah · Rabbi Debi Wechsler

    For literally millennia, Jews have been asking one question about Elijah - When will finally get here? No one knows but even more than your in laws, he is the most delayed dinner guest in all of history. But while we wait, the challenge of Pesah is for us to be Elijah in his stead. We can do his work by bringing hope and by doing “good” for those who are poor and hungry and those who despair.  Let us do the work of Elijah. Let us bring our hametz to the foodbank... Read More

  • Shabbat Parah · Rabbi Debi Wechsler

    This Shabbat we call 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 2015 · Rabbi Ron 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... Read More

  • Tu Bi Shevat 2015

    The Mishnah tells us that we observe four New Years: Nisan 1 is the New Year for dating the reign of Kings and dating the beginning of the Festival cycle. Elul 1 (Tishrei 1 according to Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Eliezer) is the New Year for determining the tithe of animals. Tishrei 1 is the New Year for years when we begin counting the New Year.  It is also when we begin a new yearly cycle for counting the Sabbatical (shemittah)... Read More

  • Parshat Shemot · Rabbi Debi Wechsler

    This week a hero is born, a savior, you might say. We read the 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 tatzav... Read More

  • Hannukah · How Will You Light Your Hanukkiyah?

    How will 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 ... Read More

  • Parshat Toldot · Rabbi Debi Wechsler

    Esau does something which our tradition sees as reprehensible.  Parshat Toldot tells the story of Esau selling his birthright (his status as the first born) to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew.  Our Rabbis find it outrageous that Esau would willingly abandon something so valuable for something so transitory. We see it as evidence of Esau’s bad character.  But we each have our own bowl of lentil stew, that thing which seemed at the time to be so attractive to... Read More

  • Parshat Chaye Sarah · Rabbi Debi Wechsler

    Our parshah is framed by death. It begins with the death of Sarah at the age of 127 and ends with the death of Abraham at the age of 175 years.  But the parshah deals not with the death of Sarah as its central narrative concerning the end of her life. Rather the Torah is most interested in the search for a burial plot for her. After Sarah dies, Abraham sets out to find, not just a place to bury her, but what the Torah calls ahuzat kever, a burial plot that... Read More

  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · New Shabbat AM - October 25, 2014

    New Shabbat AM is a joyous and reflective Shabbat morning celebration of prayer, song accompanied by musical instruments with Charlee Sterling and Ayal Yariv. Our prayer, exploration, and learning is 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 ShabbatMorning Service... Read More

  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · Sukkot Tribute

    Sukkot is a tribute to simplicity. On Sukkot we pause for moments of living without all of the “stuff” we accumulate. Building a Sukkah, and dwelling in it for meals or more, focuses us on the basic needs of our lives: shelter, nourishment, and the company of others. Though to be honest, it never quite works out that way. We always find ways to be extravagant in our simplicity. We decorate, we embellish, and we adorn our Sukkot. We fulfill the imperative of... Read More

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Prayer & Reflection

A community generated wall of prayers
  • May the coming spring’s beauty inspire us to seek personal renewal, the rebirth of our souls, and hopes for good purposes in our...

    May the coming spring’s beauty inspire us to seek personal renewal, the rebirth of our souls, and hopes for good purposes in our lives.

    Read More -Coming Spring
  • We live at a tense historical moment, challenged by so much instability and inhumanity around the world. In response, we seek joy and...

    We live at a tense historical moment, challenged by so much instability and inhumanity around the world. In response, we seek joy and goodness for our lives, embracing our Jewish heritage and reflecting upon the circumstances of our lives and the condition of our world. May we take every chance to renew and rejoice in the gifts and blessings of our days. Joined as a community in God’s presence, may our families and friends the Jewish people and all of humanity may know blessings of goodness, life, and peace. Amen.

    Read More -Prayer for this Moment
  • Terror and horror in Paris remind us that God demands justice and respect for all of humanity. Satire or serious, human expression...

    Terror and horror in Paris remind us that God demands justice and respect for all of humanity. Satire or serious, human expression is to be free just as people must be free to be. We offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims of hatred and terror in France. We grieve with the victims’ families. In our prayer and personal conduct, we hope to sustain all efforts to protect free speech, human dignity, and social decency. Sensitive to the anti-Semitic attack in a Kosher grocery store outside of Paris, and sad that for the first time since the Nazi occupation the Paris Grand Synagogue was closed on a Shabbat we affirm our hopes that everyone may be safe and secure. May the pursuit of justice and goodness throughout our world inspire our vision today and tomorrow.

    Read More -Prayer After Terror in France