Category: Holidays

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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Jonah and the Cactus: Evanescence

The book of Jonah, which we read on Yom Kippur, ends on an absurd note. Jonah storms out of the city to sulk. He had been sent to call the people to repent, and they did. God had compassion on them and, seeing their will to do better, decided not to destroy them. Jonah was …

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KonMari Your Passover

         Spring cleaning has always been a Jewish thing.  Except we call it Passover cleaning.  It’s a good thing, at least occasionally, to take the cushions off the couch and vacuum up the crumbs, wipe off the shelves in the pantry, and empty out our pockets.  As is the case with so much of Jewish …

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Purim and Anti-Semitism

This year at Purim, one verse of the Megillah especially resonated with me. In Chapter Three, Verse 8, Haman seeks permission from Achashverosh to destroy the Jewish people, denouncing us with these words, “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all of the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws …

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Praying for Rain

Rain is a blessing.  Our tradition suggests that when we give thanks for rain, we appreciate each and every drop as a blessing.  What a beautiful reminder of the importance of appreciating even the littlest things- every blessing, large and small.  What is an underappreciated blessing in your life right now?  Our ancestors lived in …

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Ten Things I Love About Being Jewish

10 Things I Love About Being Jewish I decided that I wanted to be a rabbi at the age of 11. How do I know such a specific detail?  Because my dad, alav ha-shalom, thought to himself at that moment- “This is going to be important to remember,” so he made a mental note of …

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From Shushan Purim to Pesach: A Lesson in Empathy

  What a wonderful, raucous Purim we enjoyed on Wednesday night and I trust that your celebration continued on Thursday. You might not be aware that in Jerusalem, and, in Shushan, for that matter, Purim was delayed until Thursday night and Friday. Today was “Shushan Purim,” and you might wonder- why, in these cities, is …

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Sukkot and Hurricanes

Sukkot and Hurricanes Rabbi Bonnie Koppell   The year my friend Toby was dying of lung cancer, she told me that she did not want to say the Unetaneh Tokef prayer.  She said that she was living every day that message of Who shall live and who shall die?  Who in their time and who …

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