Day to Day Life

April 18, 2014

Sadness in Kansas City – Goodness in Life

It was the Sunday afternoon before Passover. I was on my way to the airport to pick up family flying in for the holiday from points west. Just before I left home, the phone rang. A cousin from Overland Park, KS was calling. His parents were en route to Baltimore. “When...


February 17, 2014

Ditto Downton

Downton Abbey is winding down its 4th season, to the dismay of devotees across the country, including yours truly. One of the attractions of the series is the conflict between tradition and the inevitable change that defines modernity. We are are familiar with this conversation:...


November 22, 2013

JFK - 50 Years Ago Today

50 years ago today President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. November 22, 1963 was a Friday. Those of us who remember share a sad cultural reflection. We can all think back to where we were and what we were doing. I was sitting in my 2nd grade classroom with friends when...


October 24, 2013

Happy Anniversary to All of Us

Had one of my senior colleagues not posted it to Facebook, I would have missed this anniversary entirely - such is the arrogance of youth. October 24th is the 30th anniversary of the vote which gave women the right to be ordained as Conservative Rabbis. As many of you heard...


August 12, 2013

Goldsmith Museum Summer Notes

The Goldsmith Museum and the Hendler Learning Center Timeline of Jewish History are works in progress. I would like to take a few minutes to give you an update: **The museum is often the venue for tours from groups outside of CAC. This past June, we hosted a large number...


April 9, 2013

Thank You, Adam Jones

It’s been wonderful watching the Baltimore Orioles transition from a “no can do” ballclub, to a “can do” ballclub. The fact is that for many years there were no expectations that the Orioles would be a winning team. The only question was, how badly would they lose?...


March 31, 2013

Once In A Lifetime

In 1956 Passover Sedarim were celebrated on Monday evening March 26th. Until this year, that was the earliest start to Pesah anyone can remember. I don’t remember it.  I was born two months later! In all my years, I have celebrated Passover Sedarim in Chicago, Los Angeles...


February 21, 2013

Disability Awareness

At times we see ourselves less able than we are, less capable than others. Through the years I have come to associate this self-awareness with Purim. Here’s why. In synagogue before Purim begins we read about King Saul and the prophet Samuel. In the Book of Samuel the...


February 3, 2013

A Blessing for the Ravens

Several weeks ago I wrote about the theology of football. I mentioned how many of you ask me to pray for the Ravens. You won’t be surprised to hear that the same thing happened numerous times over the Purple weekend leading up to Super Bowl.  So let me repeat again what...


January 30, 2013

Lip Shtick

There is this well known teaching from Pirkei Avot that says, al tistakel be kankan, eleh be ma she yesh bo. It means, "Don't look at a vessel but rather at what's inside it." Or in other words, Don't judge a book by its cover. However, I am not sure that the Rabbis intended...


January 10, 2013

Jews on the Move exhibit at CAC

My memories of growing up in the northwest Baltimore suburbs have recently been revived because of the exhibit, Jews on the Move Baltimore and the Suburban Exodus, 1945-1968, now on view in the Hendler Learning Center through January 27. I want to make sure that all who...


December 28, 2012

Why, God?

“Why, God?” is the title of Maureen Dowd’s New York Times opinion column on December 26, 2012. It caught my attention. I don’t usually comment on op-ed pieces in the newspaper. This one touches on a subject I like to reflect on, theology. Ms. Dowd asked a friend...


December 16, 2012

Newtown, CT - It's Not Possible

On Friday mornings our youngest students parade down the hall singing and playing instruments to let all of us who work in the synagogue know that Shabbat is coming. It’s very cute. This past Friday, my office door was open, so the kids peeked in and I got up to visit...


December 6, 2012

Save Soviet Jews

A memory from many years ago. It’s Hanukkah. We’re standing outside in the synagogue parking lot on a mild Los Angeles day. I’m a teenager. Around the large outdoor Menorah my rabbi and cantor, many adults, and some of us teenagers are dancing a hora. We’re singing...


November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Sales

While focused on more consequential things, a trivial item in the news caught my attention. It seems that some retail chains and stores are going to be open during limited hours on Thanksgiving Day. Offering special sales to attract seasonal shoppers. According to these...


November 19, 2012

Israel & Gaza: We’ve Been Here Before

This is an eerily familiar experience. From the distance, we anxiously monitor a conflict in which Israel defends herself from terror and attack. We’ve been here before, too many times. I remember being a Middle School student whose Social Studies teacher let me and my...


November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I don’t think we should call her Mother Nature anymore. Mythology personifies nature as a life giving and nurturing force, a mother to the earth. I suppose that’s true on a day when the sun shines bright and the flowers bloom. It’s not true today. Certainly not in...


September 20, 2012

Loyalty To Our Team

These are exciting days here in Baltimore! Its fall with an unexpected and long hoped for pennant race and the start of a new football season. Even those of us who don’t follow sports are aware. We here in Baltimore are dedicated and enthusiastic fans. We root for our...


August 29, 2012

Who shall live, and who shall die?

After 120 years in business, Fields is closing. I imagine that when it opened in 1892, some rabbi came into the store, put up the mezuzah and said to the owner, “You should have mazal with this new business. May it, like you, last a 120 healthy years.” And now, Fields’...


August 6, 2012

What Are You Reading?

At Kiddush this week, someone asked me what I read over the summer. And then at Shabbat lunch someone else asked as well. And then Sunday morning another person asked.  I detected a trend. It just so happens that I keep a list (by quarter) so I thought I’d share with...


July 25, 2012

Remembering the Munich 11

Even though it may not help, I signed the petition. Because I believe that there should be one minute of silence to remember the Munich 11 at tomorrow’s opening ceremony of the summer Olympics. Having read the argument of the International Olympic Committee that a memorial...


November 21, 2011

Family Fare and other tidbits

It’s time to catch you up on some museum related news: The Goldsmith Museum is the first venue for Family Fare, Jewish Food Businesses in Baltimore. This traveling exhibit is the companion to Chosen Food: Cuisine, Culture and American Jewish Identity, now on view at the...


November 11, 2011

7 Billion Individuals

On October 31st humanity greeted its 7 billionth member. The world’s population is now 7 billion human beings. Current estimates are for 8 billion people in 2025 and in 2083 humanity will reach the 10 billion figure. The number is staggering. Even more awe-inspiring is...


November 9, 2011

Hunger - here in Baltimore and around the world

Many of our congregants participated in the Friday evening program for Global Hunger Shabbat, where Rabbi Wechsler led a discussion using Jewish texts to illuminate how our tradition views the problem of hunger and our responsibility to work to alleviate it, both as individuals...


October 19, 2011

Religious Respect

The role of religion in public life is always before us. We debate whether or not particular religious beliefs or values have a place in our society. I think they do, absolutely. Every adherent is free to explain what personal ideas animate their choices, their behaviors...


October 6, 2011

Can You Believe It?!

  Can you believe it? Rosh HaShana services are over? Every year we can’t help but notice how much faster the pages of a calendar turns. When we look back, the years seem like months; months seem like days; days seem like hours; and hours seem like minutes. However,...


September 23, 2011

New High Holiday Music

Dear Friends, Yes it is the season to be prepared. So prepare by listening to the beautiful new music the Professional Chizuk Amuno Choir under the direction of T. Herbert Dimmock and I will introduce as we concomitantly usher in a new Machzor filled with contemporary...


September 8, 2011

A *Breath* of Inspiration

We are blessed with congregants at Chizuk Amuno who define the true essence and meaning of courage combined with faith. One of those individuals is Anne King. If you don't recognize the name you will recognize her face. For many devoted years she has steadfastly coordinated...


September 7, 2011

9/11

The horrors of 9/11 felt by all Americans reverberated within the Jewish community not only due to grief at the tragic loss of so many lives but also from a recognition that a terror with which we were all too familiar had now reached these shores. We have marked each anniversary...


August 31, 2011

Making Do

Around our Chizuk Amuno community this week’s refrain is, “It’s only power!” Other than widespread power outages, thankfully, we are unaware of more serious damage in our area following Hurricane Irene. Though frustrated by all we cannot do in our electronically...


August 24, 2011

Uncommon Quake

Here in Baltimore we are grateful there was no major consequence as a result of an uncommon earthquake. We also anticipate a wet, stormy weekend as Hurricane Irene tracks toward us, hoping it doesn’t do much damage on the way. It seems that we often react to weather patterns...


August 21, 2011

A Trip to Germany and Israel with over a Hundred Cantors

  It is my pleasure to invite you on an awe-inspiring Cantors Assembly journey of Heritage & Healing  to Germany and Israel. As you are aware the Cantors Perlman 5 have  led mometous trips in the past to Israel full of song and lasting  memories that many of you attended...


July 13, 2011

Sadie Jacobs Crockin Returns to Chizuk Amuno Congregation

After a lapse of 46 years, Sadie Jacobs Crockin has returned to CAC , as we honor her many achievements as a tireless advocate for women’s rights and as founder of the Baltimore chapter of Hadassah in a special exhibit. Until August 4, you have the opportunity to view this...


June 15, 2011

A Trip Of A Life Time

Dear  Friends, It is our pleasure to invite you  on an awe-inspiring Cantors Assembly journey of Heritage & Healing  to Germany and Israel.  As you are aware the Cantors Perlman 5 have  led mometous trips in the past to Israel full of song and lasting  memories that...


June 12, 2011

Shiva

It's no secret that younger people show less interest in affiliating with organizations than people of even a few years back. Newer generations are more comfortable with multiple identities. They don't identify as specifically this or that. Personally, it's a trend I embrace...


April 8, 2011

36 Hours From Afghanistan

They barely looked tired.  They had so many bags. And animals. And children. They smiled and some cried and some stared. But all were welcomed home.  Last night a small group of us from Chizuk Amuno went out to BWI to welcome home our servicemen and women. We have been...


March 31, 2011

What happened in Vegas...

…can’t stay in Vegas! Not this time. After joining with my friends and colleagues of the Rabbinical Assembly at our convention in Las Vegas this week, I hope we all bring our determination and positive spirits home. Admittedly, Las Vegas is an unusual convention location...


March 24, 2011

Holier Than Thou?

Driving on Woodvalley Drive the other day, I came to the intersection with Stevenson Road and stopped at the sign. Wanting to make a left turn, I saw that it was clear to my left. Looking right, I saw a car coming down the street. In a hurry to get to the synagogue, I decided...


March 16, 2011

Tragedy of Biblical Proportions

We witness the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan with great concern and emotion. It occurs to me that the only way to describe the scenes of devastation before us, and the only way to possibly imagine the fears and discomfort of all those who are impacted, is to depict...


March 3, 2011

Finding the Sacred in the Mundane

On Shabbat morning a gentleman came up to me and said, “I have a quick question, what’s mysticism?” I ducked the question (gracefully I hope) and promised to get back to him.  Since then several more people have commented to me about our sermon/discussion last Shabbat...


February 24, 2011

The Walls are Talking

If you have been in the Schechter lobby recently you might have heard the walls talking.  For the past weeks parents, students, alumni, faculty and community members have been painting murals on the walls in honor of Krieger Schechter’s 30th anniversary. I’ve been keeping...


February 10, 2011

Dignity and Democracy - In Egypt?

We’re watching the uprising in Egypt hoping that a regime’s oppressive rule of its citizens will end. Yet, we’re also watching that regime react. They seek to hold onto their power, and if they can’t, they’ll want to manipulate the decision as to who rules after...


January 27, 2011

Aging and Sage-ing

I sometimes tease that my “mid-life crisis” brought me to Baltimore and Chizuk Amuno. I don’t know how you marked the moment, or someday will. (There are many more interesting ways!) The other night, a group of us got together at the synagogue to talk about getting...


January 13, 2011

Senseless Sadness

It’s senseless as it’s so sad. What else can we say? The assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the murder of Chief Judge John Role, of 4 innocent bystanders: Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Scheck, Dorwan Stoddard, Gabe Zimmerman, and of 9 year old Christina...


December 31, 2010

Fiftieth Anniversary of Our Majestic Sanctuary

A  huge thank you to Bev Fine Serpick for the great article about the 50th Anniversary of the Chizuk Amuno Congregation Sanctuary. Please click on the article: Click here: Chizuk Amuno celebrates completion of sanctuary - Community Times: Social Shabbat Shalom, Hazzan...


December 30, 2010

Day at the Museum

“Dad, if our kitchen blender is on display in a museum case, don’t you think its time to buy a new one?” Robin and I laughed at our daughter’s question. Our family was in the middle of visiting the new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. ...


December 16, 2010

Season's Greetings

I was next in line to order at Starbucks the other day. The woman in front of me asked the cashier, “What’s the difference between the red wrapped Christmas coffee blend and the silver wrapped Holiday coffee blend?” The cashier answered, “Nothing. It’s the same...


December 16, 2010

Top Religion Stories of 2010

For the past several years, I have used the ubiquitous “Top Ten” lists that circulate at the end of the calendar year as a model for a sermon on the top religion stories for the year that had passed. In 2009, my picks for the most important religion stories (at least...


December 13, 2010

Yes, the Rabbi is In

Can I tell you how much I love it when a visitor to the synagogue sees my open office door next to Rabbi Shulman’s office and assumes that I am his secretary?  It happened again just this morning and it still cracks me up every time.  In fact many years ago I went to...


December 8, 2010

Our People and Our Land

At least 42 people have died. 25,000 were evacuated. Numerous homes were lost and more than 12,500 acres of forests destroyed. Our first care and response is for the people who are the victims of this fire. This is our outreach toward all victims whenever troubling circumstances...


December 5, 2010

Opportunities to serve/Join us this Sunday (Dec. 12)

All of us can find ways to serve others - whether in our local community or by helping those in need elsewhere. Ruth Messinger's words from the Bimah on Shabbat yesterday were inspiring, and her question and answer session after lunch displayed a masterful understanding...


December 1, 2010

The Light of our Love and Respect

The world is a dark place, at times a darker place than most of us realize or want to acknowledge. The recent and irresponsible “Wiki leaks” posting of classified diplomatic cables reminds me of this. National security is maintained through difficult means, by espionage...


November 23, 2010

Timeline Brides

Bridal Glory on the Hendler Learning Center Timeline of Jewish History As I said in my last post, there is a misconception that bridal gowns have historically been white and lacey. On the Timeline of Jewish History in the Hendler Learning center, you can see several miniature...


November 20, 2010

Shalom from Israel

I am delighted to be back in Israel, this time with the Maryland Clergy Initiative, sponsored by the Institute of Christian and Jewish Studies and the Baltimore Jewish Council. Our group of 25 includes 15 Christian clergy, 7 rabbis, and 3 communal professionals. We are exploring...


November 12, 2010

First Blog - Then Go To Israel

A friend asked me why I haven’t posted in a while. I said that I’ve been too busy. It’s true, though it’s also an excuse. I admit that I haven’t taken the time to blog because I haven’t had anything to I wanted to say, at least in this forum. In our culture,...


November 5, 2010

Jewish "Angels" Sing at the Basilica

A Disclaimer: On Novemeber 21 the Ravens have an away game at 1:00 p.m. that you can record. An Invitation: On November 21st the Chizuk Amuno Professional Choir and Hazzan will participate in a rare historic Baltimore community event at 2:00 p.m. that you can plan to be...


November 2, 2010

Tunisian Veil

A common misconception is that wedding gowns and veils are always of the white, lacey type worn by contemporary brides. This is actually a modern (19th century), European custom. There are two places in the museum where you can see examples of other bridal types of costumes:...


October 22, 2010

"If These Walls Could Sing"

  On Friday, October 29, 2010, from 7;30-8:30 p.m, our Congregation will become time travelers. We will recreate Jules Verne's "Time Machine" and transport everyone back into time to relive majestic and captivating melodies. This is a rare and unique opportunity, to sit...


October 12, 2010

Shabbat Mini-Tour with Wendy Davis

It is frustrating to be in the dark about the origins of many of the beautiful works of art we have in our museum: each piece in our collection is here because of a narrative that, for most objects, is unknown. If only a certain pair of rimmonim inscribed in honor of a mid-19...


October 8, 2010

Baseball in Heshvan

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis this week, the typical baseball game has only 14 minutes of actual baseball action.  This calculation includes each time a pitcher lifts his leg to begin his pitching motion. The timing stops when the ball hits the catcher’s...


September 29, 2010

Angels in the Infield

The greatest choir directors in the world, during passionate choral conducting moments of  liturgical masterpieces, experience an intense "feeling of  oneness" with all of their choir members; their audience  for the most part made up of perfect strangers and...


September 22, 2010

If These Walls Could Sing

Friday Night October 29th the Chizuk Amuno Sanctuary's walls will release its memories and sing in harmony melodies that have been sung  by previous Hazzanim, choirs, grandparents, great-grandparents and even great-great-grandparents. A recent article (September 8, 2010) in...


September 22, 2010

Sukkot Goal: A Hospitable Society

The first Sukkah I ever helped my family build fell down. The flimsy structure just wasn’t strong enough to withstand the wind that year. I was disappointed, but we still enjoyed a fun holiday with family and friends. Through the years I’ve learned that as important...


September 20, 2010

Bring on the Books

Someone asked me recently how, as a rabbi, I “celebrate” the end of Yom Kippur.  Here’s my deep, dark secret --- I read for pleasure.  Yes, I build my sukkah; yes, I have a bagel and lox. But the real way I know that Yom Kippur is behind me is by the books on my...


September 16, 2010

Partners in Gemilut Hasadim

On Yom Kippur in the morning service we listen to a Torah reading from Vayikra, providing detailed instructions for the ritual service of the High Priest in the Temple, followed by the Haftarah reading from Isaiah. This juxtaposition of texts focusing on ritual practice...


September 15, 2010

Holding History

A few days ago, on one of these gorgeous late summer days we’ve been privileged to enjoy, I was looking out over the South River down by Annapolis. About 50 museum specialists from the Annapolis - Baltimore – Washington, DC area had gathered for a one day conference...


September 14, 2010

Marc R. Kivitz

We are blessed that Marc not only dedicates his time to the Chizuk Amuno Professional Choir but for the many selfless acts of gemilut hasadim that he does on behalf of so many in the community. Marc R. Kivitz served as Law Clerk to the late Honorable Harvey M. Lebowitz,...


September 8, 2010

Thoughts on the New Year

A couple of weeks ago I listened intently to the sermon by Rabbi Wechsler and Rabbi Shulman about preparing for the approaching High Holy Days. This is a time of year for reflection and introspection about our own actions and our relationships with others, in family and...


September 7, 2010

High Holiday Baltimore Radio Show

Saturday Night September 11, 2010 WBJC 91.5FM 9 p.m. This past Sunday Herb Dimmock and I were interviewed on WBJC regarding the upcoming 50th Anniversary of our glorious Chizuk Amuno Sanctuary. Jonathan Palevsky, live on the radio, wanted to know how many previous incarnations...


September 5, 2010

Peace This Year?

It’s not every week we see the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the Palestinian Authority sit together to talk peace, though we have seen it before. Yes, most of us are skeptical about the outcome. Even so, we can’t let our cynicism or fear of peace stop...


September 3, 2010

Caitlin Vincent

Chizuk Amuno Congregation is so fortunate to have so many talented vocalists chanting our holy prayers with "musical precision" in the Chizuk Amuno Choir throughout the year. Caitlin Vincent Caitlin loves to reminisce about her family experiences. One of Caitlin’s favorite...


September 1, 2010

Judy Chernak

The enormous talent in our choir is what gives it the spiritual "sound" and depth. Judy is a former teacher of music, language and crafts in private schools. An experienced performer and lecturer in piano, song and storytelling, she has appeared in Baltimore, Washington...


August 31, 2010

Weighing Your Words

We have become a culture of imposed sound bites and trivializing commercials. Word choices especially adjectives can be misleading and misrepresent the reality of the topic. When a friend or acquaintance loses a lot of weight we wonder to ourselves whether the dramatic loss...


August 31, 2010

Thanks for the snacks

This morning, I walked into my office and found a bag of Baked Lays potato chips on my desk.  That might sound like a kind gesture of nourishment, or a subtle hint to switch to low fat, except that they did not have a hekhsher (mark of kosher certification) so I knew exactly...


August 30, 2010

Albert Niedel

Beginning today this column will feature members of our incomparable professional synagogue choir. Many of you may not be aware just how illustrious and accomplished each member of our choir is. We begin with Albert Niedel. Mr. Albert Moshe Niedel is a Lyric-Dramatic Baritone...


August 22, 2010

Shanah Tovah from Iceland

Iceland. That’s where my thoughts went in preparing for the New Year.  Over the summer as I prepared my annual greeting for those who attend services with me in the Krieger Auditorium I turned to Iceland.  It was news to me, but apparently Iceland has a long tradition...


August 20, 2010

A Synagogue Service that Is an Hour Long but Lasts for Eternity

Rabbi Levi Yitzhak overwhelmed by the suffering of the Jewish people stands before the Almighty on the “Holiest of Days” and calls God to stand on trial. Levi Yitzhak asks the question “what does HaShem want from His people?” Last night during dinner with Leo Bretholz...


August 13, 2010

As we prepare to pray for peace for 5771

With the Help and Guidance of HaShem, along with the inspired words of our Rabbis' Shulman and Wechsler;  may this coming Rosh Hashanna bring peace in Israel and the world... May the 140th anniversary of our beloved congregation be one of raptured celebration and greater...


August 11, 2010

"Rabbi"ing Out Loud

My favorite blog of all time is not a blog. Actually it was a blog before there was such a thing as a blog, or even such a thing as the web. It is Anna Quindlen’s Living in the 30’s column that appeared in the New York Times in the 1980s and then was collected into a...