More delicacies to savor this Passover

Posted by on Apr 24, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

(Given at Spring Lake Village Senior Community to an interfaith group on Sunday morning, April 24) I hope you’ll indulge me as I share something about Passover. It is far and away my favorite Jewish holiday—indeed my favorite holiday. Always has been, since the family seders at my grandparents’ house, when I couldn’t understand a word my grandfather speed-chanted in Hebrew and Aramaic from the haggadah, as I sat across the table from my cousins, next to my sisters and mother, waiting for the moments when we could burst into song with the Four Questions and Dayenu, dip the wine for the ten plagues…and eat my grandmother’s gefilte fish, matzah ball soup and...

Read More

Shabbat Hagadol – Reaching for Spiritual Delicacies This Passover

Posted by on Apr 16, 2016 in Blog | 5 comments

This shabbat is Shabbat Hagadol – the great shabbat, the shabbat before pesach, or Passover. Traditionally, a learned rabbi would expound at length on the laws of Pesach, so the people could be reminded of the right way to do all the cleaning, shopping, cooking, and other tasks that are involved in preparing for the holiday….   As we prepare for our seders, it is good to remember that our seders have both a physical and spiritual meal. So I thought that rather than expound on the physical aspects, we could look at some of the spiritual delicacies this holiday offers us…   As you all know, our haggadah—the telling of our Passover story—is like a...

Read More

Envy Rots Our Bones: Terumah 5776 (sort of)

Posted by on Feb 9, 2016 in Blog | 4 comments

In my baby book, my mother recorded an apocryphal story about me: sometimes when she wanted a kiss from me, I refused. She learned to ask my older sisters for one, and suddenly I would come running, kiss at the ready. If my sisters were doing it, I didn’t want to be left out… In many ways, this story has echoed throughout my life. Too often what others do, I want to do, too. This month, my Mussar[1] study group has been grappling with envy. It seems for each of us, we have reached a place of discomfort we’ve never shared with each other before. I was comforted somewhat to be sharing this with people I respect and admire, to recognize that I am not alone. And I was...

Read More

This is Important. Really. Learning about Life through Death in a Hospital

Posted by on Oct 25, 2015 in Blog | 6 comments

  Today a family stood by the bedside of their beloved husband, father, uncle, cousin, brother as the nurses disconnected his respirator and other machines keeping his body alive days after his brain had died. All week, as family gathered for the final moments, the patient was rarely alone—someone or a large group keeping him company, telling stories, crying, praying, holding each other. In the room today, the love was palpable, as people held each other in their sorrow. At one point, after a son had been wailing for awhile, setting others off into their own tears, their uncle gently but firmly told them that they had all been blessed to have had the honor and...

Read More

Rehearsal for Death: Can This be Life Affirming?

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Blog | 6 comments

  So have you heard the story of Alfred Nobel and how he started the Nobel Prizes? He was the inventor of dynamite, a Swedish chemist and pacifist who thought he was creating something so terrible that it would end all wars. When his brother Ludwig died, one paper mistakenly ran Alfred’s obituary, with the headline calling him the “merchant of death,” reporting that “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” He was horrified and realized that he didn’t want to be remembered that way, and that was the catalyst to the Nobel Prizes. I have heard from a couple of you that my description of...

Read More

Choosing Life: Nitzavim 5775

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Blog | 4 comments

  Choose life. I have to admit, this is one of my favorite phrases in the whole torah. Choose life so that you and your seed may live. Who in their right minds wouldn’t want to choose life? Since this is not a verse about suicide prevention or martyrdom, what it is really trying to teach us?   These are also the verses we read on Yom Kippur morning, our day of atonement, trying to make ourselves at-one with ourselves and God. As we face our shortcomings, the reminder that we are being urged to choose life is powerful.   So how do we do it? How do we choose life?   Rabbi and psychiatrist Abraham Twerski, in his book Happiness and the Human Spirit:...

Read More