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Tu B’shvat and Potential for Growth!

Tonight is Tu B'shvat. This is the new year for the trees, and the process of how the date was chosen is fascinating. The assumption is that most of the winter's rains have fallen, and from this point, the sap deep down in the core of the tree begins to flow, which will lead to [...]

Impossible? Try Anyway!

Friends, I saw a very powerful teaching from the Kotzker Rebbe (19th c. Poland) this week, and I wanted to share it with you. There is so much action in this week's parsha, as we begin the book of Exodus and the epic narrative of the Jewish People is shifting from the story of our [...]

Nesiya Tovah! Have a Meaningful Journey!

Shalom Friends, I hope that you are all doing well. This week's parsha, Vayigash, is the culmination of the entire Joseph story, full of drama and excitement (and I always find myself singing some of the ditties from the musical at this time of year!). There are many connections to Chanukah, which always comes at [...]

A Little Spark can make a Big Difference!

"The house of Jacob will be fire, the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for straw, and they will ignite and devour them." (Obadiah 1:18) This intense verse from the Prophet Obadiah is about the ability for the Israelites to overcome in the forces of Esau when the Messiah comes. What [...]

Brotherly Love

This week, I want to do a careful reading of a few verses in the beginning of the parsha and see if we can learn a message hiding within the Hebrew phrasing (it will help to look at the Hebrew of verses in Genesis 32:4, 7, and 12). In verse 4, Jacob is sending his [...]

How Can We Share a Holy Place?

Shalom Friends, This week's parsha has a familiar highlight--I hope you remember when we studied the text of Sulam Yaakov(Jacob's Ladder)--Holy Place during the last portion of the program, and around our visit to Jerusalem. Do you remember? Do you remember the discussion? What you might have felt? What was a "Holy Place" for you [...]

A Clarion Call for Jewish Unity

I have seen many who are committing themselves to support organizations that work with demographics that are more vulnerable like minorities, immigrants, refugees, GLBT, etc., as well as projects fighting gender discrimination and for the advancement of egalitarianism. This is valuable and important at this moment. There are many that feel that these strata of [...]

Loving Another and Not Letting Go

As we read the first stories about the sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau in this week's parsha, we are confronted with the important question about Isaac's seeming favortism towards Esau. Why would Isaac love and choose his son who is related to by the Tradition as a shady character at best, and at times [...]

Teaching Compassionate Righteousness to the Next Generation

In this week's parsha, we get an interest gift: a window into what Gd values. Last week we met Abraham as Gd called out to him to leave evertything and begin a new path. We don't know much about Abraham, yet are impressed by his willingness and eagerness to fulfill Gd's instructions, even when it [...]

A Timely Invitation for Loving-Kindness!

Shalom Friends, What a week. I think it is safe to say that it has been an emotionally draining year, and the results have caused extreme reactions on all sides. A significant portion of the US are deeply concerned and even frightened at this very moment, while another portion--often less heard, especially in the Jewish [...]