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L’Shana Tovah 5777 – The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Blog | 3 comments

A story – told by Daniel Isay, the founder of Story Corps, to Krista Tippett on her show, On Being… Are you familiar with Story Corps? Story Corps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, having collected and archived more than 60,000 interviews at the Library of Congress. People walk into a recording booth with loved ones and ask questions they’ve always wanted to ask. So Mr. Isay was describing interviewing his beloved dad, and asking him the often asked question, “What are you most proud of, Dad?” For years after the interview, he teased his father (with some measure of hurt), about his answer—everyone always answers that question with,...

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Words Matter – Mattot/Maasei 5776

Posted by on Aug 5, 2016 in Blog | 9 comments

Recently, I spoke to a woman in the hospital for hip surgery that she had delayed for three weeks after her fall. After talking about that, she told me bits and pieces of her life, including her first, unhappy marriage. A few years after the marriage ended, at one of their monthly lunches where she collected his child support check, her ex told her that he had never loved her. I expressed some form of dismay on her behalf. She, however, had a different reaction: she revealed to me that it was the best thing he could have told her. “I stopped trying to blame myself, to figure out what I’d done wrong, what my problem was. I could finally stop trying to get him back,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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