Bonnie Koppell

Author's posts

Shabbat Parah: Clean Hands and a Pure Heart

March 26th will be the first day of the month of Nisan, the month in which Passover occurs.  That means that next Shabbat, March 21, is Shabbat Mevarchim, the Shabbat on which we will officially announce and pray for the new month.  Reverse engineering, that makes this week Shabbat Parah- one of the most mysterious, least …

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I Know That Valentine’s Day is NOT a Jewish Holiday. . . .

I remember a few years ago- I was standing in the lobby, having just returned from a period of military service. I think I might have even been in uniform. I was definitely still in Army/Colonel mode. I sort of barked at one of my colleagues in a way that surprised even me as I …

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Locusts, Trees, and Tu Bishvat

Did you know that the word Elohim, God, and the word ha-tevah, nature, have the same numerical value in Hebrew?  While Jews are not pantheistic, that is, we don’t believe that nature IS God, we certainly sense the deep and intimate connection between the Creator and the creation.  Rabbi Joseph Leib Bloch taught that, “(a …

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Judaism By The Numbers

Talk delivered at Community Church of the Verdes, 27 January, 2020, Rabbi Bonnie Koppell          Well, it is a daunting task that you have set for me.  “Judaism.”  Not- Jewish Ethics, the Jewish Lifecycle, Jewish Holidays, Jewish Texts, Jewish History- all of it!  Five thousand years in 45 minutes.  The story is told that Rabbi …

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Vayigash: “Being Right/Being Happy”

A couple of weeks ago, Ron and I were pondering a challenging situation, and he said something that I can’t stop thinking about.  His comment was-  “I don’t need to be right, I just want to be happy.”  Personally,  I so resist this wise perspective.  I DO need to be right- I want to stomp …

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The Opposite of Thanksgiving

      Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday focused on gratitude and based on the Biblical holiday of Sukkot. What destroys gratitude more than anything else? Envy. There’s a good reason that the 10 commandments prohibit coveting, that is, desiring, that which belongs to others. It destroys our souls and defeats happiness. Gratitude is …

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Two Inspiring Stories

SAM AND DEDE/LAURAL AND ARNIE This is the story of Laural and Arnie Sigal and Dede and Sam Harris- how they became friends, how that friendship grew, and how we can all be inspired by their story. Making guests feel welcome is a fundamental Jewish value. In Hebrew we call it, “hachnassat orchim.” We see …

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Mussar and Mindfulness

           Rosh HaShanah- what a gift! What a luxury! What a joy! Looking around this room, we are each so grateful for the blessing of our physical well-being that enables us to be here, and for the blessing of community- sharing the start of this holy season with friends and loved ones. Tonight we begin …

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Remember Me Like This

            We could all die tomorrow, or, in fact tonight. The reality is that we don’t know and so it is easy to avoid thinking about. On this holiest of nights, we peel back the façade and take a peek at our lives as they will appear in the rear-view mirror. What is it we …

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Neuroscience and Happiness

Perhaps you have had an MRI to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of a serious medical issue? Through the miracle of this technology, neuroscientists have been able to analyze the patterns in our brain in order to understand what makes us happy.1 Looking to increase the happiness quotient in your life in 5780? Here’s …

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