Category Archive: Holidays

Mar 08 2018

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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Oct 08 2017

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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Sep 13 2013

Reflections on the Yamim Noraim- Temple Chai Spiritual Leaders

    Erev Rosh HaShanah– Rabbi Mari Chernow  S. Y. Agnon tells the story[1] of a young man who became estranged from his father, the king. The son left his father’s palace and wandered from village to village and from city to city. His clothes became tattered and torn. His face changed so that he …

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Sep 01 2013

Love Means Having to Say You’re Sorry

         One of the more memorably ridiculous lines in literature comes from a work that was popular in my childhood- Love Story– in which the author famously wrote, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  Raise your hand if you agree that you can successfully sustain long-term, loving relationships without ever apologizing?          Which …

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Sep 29 2012

Army Values and Jewish Values- Yom Kippur 5773

One hundred fifty years ago, almost to the day, the first Rabbi was commissioned as a chaplain in the United States Army.  Last year, a memorial was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery to the 13 Jewish chaplains who have died during active duty service to our beloved country.  Their sacrifice is a tribute to the …

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Jun 08 2012

Passover, Plagues, and the Contemporary Water Crisis

Drought leads to famine, which leads to migration, which leads to civil unrest and political upheaval, which leads to violence, water pollution, disease and death. As I was studying these issues in my M.A. program at the Army War College, focusing on regional issues with global impact, a light bulb went off – all of …

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May 29 2012

Memorial Day: Freedom is Not a Gift From Heaven

The scene: Kandahar Airfield Chapel. The occasion, a memorial ceremony for Private Jason Hasenauer. The voice of the First Sergeant from the rear of the sanctuary- “Sergeant X”. The hearty reply- “Here, First Sergeant.” The First Sergeant calls out for “Captain X”. Again, a robust, “Here, First Sergeant.” “Private Hasanauer”… silence. A bit louder: “Private …

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Dec 16 2011

Fervor of Maccabees Defeated Mighty Army

The holiday of Hanukkah invites reflection on themes of war and peace. Changes in the nature of warfare can be quantitative and/or qualitative. There is no neat evolution from primitive hand-to-hand combat, culminating in star wars. The wars of the Maccabees were fought against combatants on elephants – the tanks of their day. From elephants to …

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Oct 07 2011

Avinu Malkenu / Chaplain (Colonel)

Avinu/Malkenu- Our Parent, Our Ruler- We approach God, first and foremost, as a loving parent, hoping for indulgence, mercy, forgiveness.  Parents offer us guidance, but the context of the relationship, ideally, is one of unconditional love.  No wonder we open our plea to God through the channel of “Avinu.” However, the primary metaphor of the High Holiday …

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May 21 2011

Jewish Holidays

    The cycle of the Jewish holidays follows the Jewish calendar, which is lunisolar based, with an extra month added every few years to accommodate the difference between the number of days in the lunar vs. the solar year.  (354/365).  The date of the Jewish holiday never changes, but if may vary as to when it …

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