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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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The High Holidays and Mayonnaise

I’ve been thinking about mayonnaise. We tried one of those meal in a box services that have become so popular, and the ingredients included a tiny little container with two tablespoons of mayonnaise. I guess it’s too much trouble to drive to the store and buy your own mayonnaise and measure out two tablespoons? It …

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Three Little Words- Kol Nidre 5779

  Those 3 little words might be “I love you.”  That’s what I always thought of when I heard the phrase, 3 little words.  Three little words that are magic, that make our hearts sing.  And then,  Sue Coore gave me an article by Chris Brogan, “My 3 Words for 2016,” and my head began …

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JWB Jewish Chaplains Council- JCCA- “Jewish Military Professional Award”

In 1978 when I raised my hand and swore to defend the Constitution of the United States I had no idea what I was getting into.  I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, near what was then the US Army Chaplain School at Fort Hamilton, NY.  Knowing that I wanted to be a rabbi, I was …

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On the Reality and Power of Evil

On the Reality and Power of Evil- Rabbi Bonnie Koppell In her novel The Wonder Worker, Susan Howatch warns us of a fact of life which we would all much rather ignore, as she writes, “Evil exists. Those who forget that fact or ignore it or reject it are at best taking a big risk …

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My Grandson, The Angel

Every grandparent thinks that their grandchild is an angel. My new grandson, Michael David, who is 10 days and 30 minutes old, actually IS an angel.  Or, at least, he is named for one!  People are sometimes surprised to learn that there ARE angels in Jewish tradition.  The Torah speaks of “malachim”- messengers- and you …

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