Jewish Holidays

Nitzavim-Vayelech: The Choice is Yours.

Nitzavim-Vayelech: The Choice is Yours.
This High-Holiday season, I will again, B”H, have the opportunity to lead services aboard a cruise-ship. (Where better to practice self-denial/to “afflict my soul” by fasting?)   The cruise line’s “Instructions t... Continue Reading »

New Adult Ed Class Begins This Thursday

New Adult Ed Class Begins This Thursday

NEW ADULT EDUCATION CLASS FOR PASSOVER Thursdays, March 14 & 21, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Tikvah, Fullerton, CA.  How have Jews understood the Passover narrative? Since “The Torah has seventy faces,” (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:15), there’s no “correct” interpretation. Even so, various approaches have dominated at different times in our history, reflecting the circumstances in which we have found ourselves. We will sample such major genres as: MidrashP’shat (rational/contextual), PaRDeS, and Kabbalah. Enrich your Passover Seder(s), future Bible (Torah/Tan”akh) study, and your understanding of Jewish history and cultural traditions! Please call Temple office at (714) 871-3535 or email tbtaa@sbcglobal.net to RSVP. 

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Ki Tissa: Shabbat in Jerusalem

Ki Tissa: Shabbat in Jerusalem

“V’shamru v’nai Yisrael et haShabbat, la’asot et haShabbat l’dorotam b’rit olam….” The Israelite people shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout the ages as a covenant for all time:  Ex. 31:16  This familiar Saturday morning Kiddush verse comes from this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tissa.  But the Torah says relatively little about how the Sabbath is to be observed. ...

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Purim: Could Mordecai Buy Life Insurance?

Purim: Could Mordecai Buy Life Insurance?

For me, Purim’s predominant, eternal theme is the precariousness of life for all Jews.   In a land ruled by others, even one that apparently welcomed and accepted us, (according to a Midrash, Mordecai, known to be a Jew, was a member of the royal security police; even if not, he was publicly honored for his action), an anti-Semite was nearly able to wipe us out.  Only a series of unlikely “coincidences” ... 

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B'shallah: Consulting with trees.

B'shallah: Consulting with trees.

This week we read the Torah portion B’shallah, in which, most famously, G-d splits the sea and the Israelites are saved from destruction.  We celebrate the “holiday of trees” -- Tu B’shevat (the 15th day of the month of Shevat) and, here in Israel, we voted in national elections.  Coincidentally, this week I also learned, in Ulpan (Hebrew language school), that the word for “consult” is: להתייעץ  (“l’heet-ya-etz”).  Because the last two letters – etz -- are the word for “tree,” our teacher suggested that we remember the word for “consult” with the sentence:  “I consult with a tree.” ...

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Hanukah's Message

Hanukah's Message

In recent years at this time, I have researched the story of Hanukah, dressed up as Simon Ben Mattathias to give “dramatic historical presentations” at synagogues, and even lectured about Hanukah aboard cruise ships.  This year, I’m doing something quite different … 

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Thanksgiving: More than Gratitude Attitude

Thanksgiving: More than Gratitude Attitude

Today is “Thanksgiving Day” in America.  In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed an annual “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  By so doing, he transformed the longstanding custom of individually-declared American “days of thanksgiving” into an annual observance.  While gratitude is not uniquely Jewish, it is central to Jewishness.  The very word ...

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Nov 22

Shoftim: Lost and Found

Shoftim: Lost and Found

I lost my new “Smartphone” a few days ago.  It happened somewhere between my Jerusalem apartment and my arrival at morning minyan.  I think I put it on the bus seat when I opened my backpack to retrieve something that then took my full attention during the remaining short ride.   I remember being surprised when I looked up and saw that we were arriving at my stop; I jumped up, grabbed my backpack, and alighted without checking around me. No one has turned it in.  Yet, prompted by the Jewish calendar, I think that I have gained, rather than lost, from this incident ...

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Tisha B'Av: Not Just for the Orthodox!

Tisha B'Av: Not Just for the Orthodox!

We all know that much “history” – what happened during andbefore our lifetimes -- greatly affects “who we are” and how we self-identify.   Yet, fewof us consciously define our lives in an expressly historical way.   Unlesswe experienced a traumatic or clearly life-changing event, we don’t say or eventhink “I am who I am because of what happened.” Nor do we think or say, “I am a link in a chain of many generations.”  But doing so would likely enrich the meaning inand of our lives.  In this week’s Torah portion, Devarim, the first inDeuteronomy, Moses knows that he is soon to die.  How does he begin his last oration?  Rather than praising G-d or reiterating theCommandments, he begins with a narrative history of Israel’s experiencessince receiving the Commandments.  Perhapshe realizes that to ensure the future of the “Jewish people,” his mostimportant task is to ensure that they don’t forget theirpast –especially the bitter parts.

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Of Bonfires and Biases: Lag BaOmer in the “Territories”

Of Bonfires and Biases: Lag BaOmer in the “Territories”
The phrase “Hilltop Outpost in the Territories” may conjure up the following image:  A remote spot, far from “Israel proper,” in mostly, or entirely, Palestinian-occupied area.  A few, far right-wing religious zealots individuals or families flout the law and bring international scorn, consuming widely disproportionate government funds (thanks to disproportionate right-wing political support in the fractious Knesset) and other resources (security, utilities, etc.), in furtherance of what they consider their Biblical mandate.  
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If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists.
Jewish Proverb