‘Rabbi’s Journal’ Category

Rabbi’s Journal

December 24, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 542: The Festive Meal of Chopsticks

Dear Hevreh, Tonight we celebrate a unique and (very) American Jewish tradition of Chinese food and a movie on Christmas Eve. While this holiday may not be on the same spiritual level as some of those that have been described in the Bible, the Festive Meal of Chopsticks has inspired it's own Talmud tractate (section), which among other details explains how the extra container of rice is set aside for Elijah the Prophet. In all seriousness though, tonight's festivities speak to the creative Jewish spirit to forge new traditions and pathways for expressing our Jewishness. It's a simple activity -- dinner and a movie -- but many of our well known rituals (like lighting candles, breaking a[...]

Category : Events Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 20, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 538: Being Grateful to Help Honor an Honorable Name + Link to online parashah class

Dear Hevreh, Yesterday, I had the honor of officiating at the funeral for Mike Seidel z"l, a past President of Beth Mordecai. It's moments like these that remind me how grateful I am to be your rabbi -- to learn about Mike's humility, perseverance, and love of service (especially as President of Beth Mordecai), and to share some of those stories with his family in the hope that by couching them in Jewish language these stories and anecdotes from Mike's life will help them cope with his passing. I am also grateful for our Jewish tradition that is full of timeless wisdom on how to treat a person on the last stage of life's journey and how to ease family members[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 18, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 536: Discovering the Treasures of Beth Mordecai

Dear Hevreh, Last Friday night, I told a story about a Jewish man from Prague who goes to Vienna to find a treasure that he sees in his dreams. Once he gets to Vienna he is told, in a roundabout way, that the treasure he was looking for was under his house in Prague all along. Yet, if it wasn't for the man's trip out of his home, he would never have discovered the treasure in his home. I used this story as a launching pad to talk about the "treasure" of Beth Mordecai, the special-something inside our congregation that we sometimes have to discover by going outside our walls, like the Rubber Duck Race at the YMCA.    Yet no matter where these experiences take place, many of us have experienced a[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 17, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 535: ONE Jewish People

Today we celebrate our unity. Today we honor our diversity. Today we glorify the beauty of Klal Yisrael (people of Israel) - Day 295: Klal Yisrael Dear Hevreh, I shared the words written above last Spring when four Jewish institutions in northern Middlesex County -- Beth Mordecai, Neve Shalom, Temple Emanu-El, and the JCC -- came together to work on a program to celebrate our love for the Jewish homeland of Israel. I return to these words because this Sunday from 9 am -- 12 pm we have another opportunity to experience the glory of Klal Yisrael with an amazing Bible Family Fun Day program which we are co-sponsoring with the other three northern Jewish Middlesex institutions and Middlesex Federation and the Conservative[...]

Category : Middlesex Jewish News Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 12, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 530: The Practical World of Kashrut

*Note: This message is longer than usual אם רוצה לבשלן יחד ואין שם ס' מותר (יורה דעה קט:ב) If you want to cook together two different kinds of food [that are generally forbidden from one another], and one of the kinds of food is less than 1/60th of the other kind, then the mixture is allowed (Yoreh Deah 98:2) Dear Hevreh, Outside of observing Shabbat, there is probably no greater indicator of Jewish religious observance than keeping kosher (shomer kashrut). Yet even more than simply religious observance, the act of keeping kosher in some capacity indicates our cultural attachment to Judaism. For instance, one person I spoke to recently says "I eat bacon, but I don't eat ham because that's what my father taught[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Ritual Practice
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 11, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 529: Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words

Dear Hevreh, No need for words. These pictures show it all. Check our Facebook page tomorrow after 11 am for some more wonderful pictures of the duck race and please make sure to send more to me to post on your behalf! Kol Tuv, Rabbi Ari Saks Pictures -- ducks

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Rubber Duck Race
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 10, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 528: Reflecting on a Special Day

Dear Hevreh, I don't know about you, but I'm still kind of "floating" from the Rubber Duck Race on Sunday. More than the revenue it raised, this event brought our community together to work together, to have fun together, and to bond together. All of these elements are needed to build a dynamic, robust, and exciting community and they were all on display this past Sunday. Whether it was re-situating our table and spreading out within the YMCA to sell more ducks, or playing duck-duck-goose (and then duck-duck-barvaz) to pass the time, or simply wearing a yellow "Duck Handler" t-shirt to show our pride in doing this event together, we displayed the kind of work ethic and joy that makes our community[...]

Category : Rabbi's Journal Rubber Duck Race
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 8, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 526: Grateful for This Ducky Moment

Dear Hevreh, Perhaps the most significant feeling that religion tries to cultivate is the feeling of gratitude. While we cannot control everything that happens in our lives, and at times we may feel like destiny/the universe/God is out to get us, Judaism constantly reminds us to hodu ladonai ki tov, ki l'olam hasdo -- Give thanks to God for God's love endures forever. Coming off of Thanksgiving, with its religious origins, and Hanukkah, we are also reminded at this time of year how to be grateful at the miraculous nature of our lives. Indeed, gratitude is so central to our faith that we have a prayer for the simple purpose of sharing our gratitude for being alive in this moment: Barukh Atah Adonai[...]

Category : Rabbi's Journal Rubber Duck Race
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 6, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 524: The Joy of Rubber Ducks…and Water!

Dear Hevreh, I have yet to fully experience it as a father, but I've heard that there is nothing like the joy of a kid playing with his or her rubber duck in a bathtub. If you need any proof of this, just askErnie from Sesame Street. The smile that lights up on a child's face as their little toy floats on this incredible source of life substance we call "water" is priceless. In fact, it is probably the echo of this joy that inspired the popularity of Rubber Duck Race fundraisers like ours on Sunday beginning around 3 pm at the YMCA of Raritan Bay (357 New Brunswick Avenue). Rubber Ducks and water just go really well together. We'll[...]

Category : Rabbi's Journal Rubber Duck Race Shabbat
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 3, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 521: Publicizing the Miracle of Hanukkah to Family, Neighbors, and Fellow Jews

Dear Hevreh, Last night, I had one of the most memorable Hanukkah experiences of my life as I celebrated the Festival of Lights with my family, my neighbors, and my Jewish community. It wasn't that one particular moment stood out (though I really enjoyed sharing the story of Hanukkah with 3rd and 4th grade Perth Amboy students), but rather that the overall experience of lighting the candles with so many groups of people truly exemplified the meaning of the mitzvah of pirsumei nisah, of publicizing the miracle of Hanukkah. The rabbis teach us that the purpose of lighting candles is to share the miracle with everyone around us, which is why we are supposed to light the candles as early as[...]

Category : Hanukkah Middlesex Jewish News Perth Amboy News Rabbi's Journal Rubber Duck Race
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