Category: Holidays

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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