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Erev Shabbat Messages ...

Date Posted Title Excerpt
Mar 31, 2017 Four Cups of Milk Once, before Pesach, a man entered the home of Rabbi Yossi Ber, and asked him a question: “Tell me, Rabbi, can I fulfill the commandment of the four cups with milk instead of wine?” The rabbi asked him, “Are you – God forbid – ill?” The man answered him, “No, thank God, I am quite healthy, but I cannot afford to buy wine this year.” Rabbi Yossi turned to his wife and said,” Give this man twenty-five rubles.” Continue reading
Mar 24, 2017 How Free is Free Will What does a California home-maker have in common with Egypt’s great Pharaoh? To answer this question we begin with a 1960’s psychology experiment conducted by Drs. Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser. In this study, a team of researchers telephoned California housewives and asked the women if they would be willing to answer a few questions – a relatively simple request with which most subjects complied. Continue reading
Mar 21, 2017 In Vogue Suddenly Shabbat has become very trendy. Or so it would seem from this week’s latest edition of Vogue which featured an article entitled “How to Host a Shabbat Dinner and Why You should – Even if You Aren’t Celebrating.” I will admit that I approached this piece of journalism with more than a little bit of skepticism, wondering what of significance a women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine could possibly have to say about the holiest day of the Jewish week. Continue reading
Mar 15, 2017 Finding Esther Towards the beginning of his rise to power, Hitler was delivering one of his infamous speeches at a large town hall meeting in Munich when he noticed a man in the front row making derisive facial expressions punctuated by occasional bursts of laughter. Along with finding this strange display distracting, Hitler feared that the man’s lack of respect would seriously undermine the Nazi message. When his presentation concluded, he asked that the heckler be brought before him and indignantly demanded to know his identity. “I am a Jew,” the man said evenly. “Then you should be taking my address more seriously,” warned Hitler. “Do you think that I will not make good on my promise to annihilate your people?” Continue reading
Mar 2, 2017 Chesed Shel Emeth It is hard to imagine anything more abominable than the desecration of a sacred burial place. And so the vandalism of the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri this past weekend has been truly devastating not only for those in the greater St. Louis area but for all of us as well. With over 170 gravestones disgraced, the defilement of this memorial park not only violates the dignity of the deceased who, according to Jewish tradition are to be treated with the utmost highest form of respect, but it also brings pain and suffering to family members forced to witness such an atrocity. Continue reading
Feb 17, 2017 Inauguration Day "Libi bamizrach v'anochi b'sof ma'arav - My heart is in the east, and I am at the ends of the west." While these words were first written by the Spanish philosopher and poet, Yehudah HaLevi, expressing the familiar Diaspora sentiment of being physically in one place and spiritually in quite another, the line seems newly resonant for many of us this weekend as we feel our attention drawn to events taking place in our nation's capital. Continue reading
Feb 17, 2017 Scientists in Synagogues I love science. It's so certain. Science measures things that we can define and understand. By analyzing the relationships and patterns of those measurements, science actually creates brand new understandings and definitions, never before known. Those new things can then be measured, analyzed and understood, thus expanding human knowledge - step by step. In this way, over time, science expands human understanding into nearly infinite reaches of the universe. Continue reading
Jan 10, 2017 Praying with the Soldiers The very first night that we gathered together for ma’ariv (the evening service) in Israel, we all instinctively turned to face the east. That is, until we realized that we were actually standing to the south of Jerusalem in Arad and that we needed to reposition ourselves in order to be in the direction of the Kotel. The next morning we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise service atop Masada led by our own recent bat mitzvah, Sophia Kurzman, changing our orientation yet again. Continue reading
Dec 20, 2016 A Whitefish Wedding Over the course of my career, I’ve had the enormous honor of officiating at a number of weddings! I’ve married close childhood friends and dear members of the congregations in which I’ve served, young brides and grooms beginning life together and older adults grateful for a second chance at love and partnership. I’ve gotten my name in the “Weddings” section of The New York Times. Continue reading
Dec 13, 2016 Scientists in Synagogues Which of the following BEST describes your view - I view science and religion as: Collaborative…each can be used to support each other Independent…they refer to different aspects of reality Conflict…and I am on the side of science Conflict…and I am on the side of religion Some of us will recognize the above question from a survey sent to selected members of our congregation a few months back as part of a “Scientists in Synagogues” grant that BHCBE received from the organization Sinai and Synapses. Continue reading