‘Rabbi’s Journal’ Category

Rabbi’s Journal

December 2, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 520: The Magic of Hanukkah…and Ducks!

Dear Hevreh,   Yesterday, our community celebrated the Festival of Lights in style with latkes, doughnuts, lighting of candles...and magic! A fun and engaging magician, the Great Scott, made us laugh and left us amazed with his sleights of hand and knowledge of the magical arts. The show was not only entertaining, but got me thinking about how magic relates to our relationship with God.    How can we sense God's presence in our lives? If the Bible is our guide, then the clearest way for God to appear in our lives is through the performance of "magic" -- miracles like splitting a sea or getting water from a rock. These events, which cannot be explained by reason, have ingrained in us the sense that when[...]

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

November 29, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 517: The Meaning of Love

DAY 517: The Meaning of Love   V'ahavta et Adonai Elohekha                     וְאָהַבְתָּ אֶת ה' אֶלֹקֶיך              You shall love the Lord Your God (Deut 6:5)   V'ahavta L'reiakha Kamokha                         וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעָךָ כָּמוֹך         You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:15)   Dear Hevreh,   Love is one of the most powerful words we have at our disposal -- just ask any couple how the first time they said "I love you" to one another changed their relationship forever. Whether it's through our own experience or through our culture, we are quite aware of the emotional power of love. Yet, in addition to[...]

Category : Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

November 15, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 503: Responding to Typhoon Haiyan — The Desire and Limitations of Our Care

"In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough. The need is massive, the need is immediate, and you can't reach everyone."-  Max Roxas, Interior Secretary of the Phillipines "The international community needs to resist the urge of the savior syndrome, to come in and think they can duplicate the structures [of aid], can do better, can do without the government [of the Phillipines], because that will only worsen the response."- Sara Pantuliano, Head of the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute "A time of disaster is a time to help others. It is not a time to think only of self and forget others. It is a time to console and embrace our neighbors. It[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat
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Rabbi’s Journal

November 14, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 502: That Special Kehillah Feeling

Dear Hevreh, As some of you may have already seen on Facebook, the synagogue has renewed my contract which means that I will continue to be your rabbi for at least the next 2-3 years (and hopefully longer!). Rachel and I are both very excited about staying here at Beth Mordecai and in Perth Amboy, primarily because the community has embraced us with open arms. From the services to the parties and all of the special events that bring us together, our kehillah, our community, makes us feel right at home. The word kehillah is so important. It comes from the root k-h-l meaning "gather" or "congregate." In other words, the heart of what makes a community a community is[...]

Category : Rabbi's Journal Shabbat Uncategorized
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Rabbi’s Journal

November 13, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 501: A Request on Behalf of My Shul That’s About More Than Just Raising Money

DAY 501: A Request on Behalf of My Shul That's About More Than Just Raising Money                                           For today's entry, I want to share with you a letter I crafted to family and friends to ask for their support in buying a duck for a rubber duck race (see below). While it was important to describe the event, I felt it was also important to share with them why this event is so meaningful to me. I don't expect that everyone will agree with my motivations, but by hearing my personal story I hope that people will understand that this[...]

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

November 10, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 498: Discovering Our Potential With Partners

Dear Hevreh, After God created Adam in the second chapter of Genesis, the process of creation seemed to be complete. Yet as God looked around at all the beauty that was created, God turned to Adam and realized that creation was not complete: "Lo tov heyot adam l'vado -- it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). And thus God created Adam's partner, Eve. It's as if God realized that the only way for humanity to fully enjoy and take advantage of all the potential imbued in creation is when we have partners to work with us because it's not fun to do things alone. Today is all about partners. From 1-5 pm today at JFK hospital in Edison, our community[...]

Category : Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

November 8, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 496: Becoming Aware of Our Inner Shalom (at tonight’s White Out Friday Night)

Dear Hevreh, Each of us is capable of finding our own sense of "peace." Whether it's a relaxing walk, a good book, or perhaps even coming to shul, there are certain times when our minds are relaxed and our spirits are put at ease as we experience the calming effect of...peace. How do you find a sense of peace? Have you ever wondered why there certain moments, particular environments, or perhaps even encounters with people give you that sense of peace? How is it that at one moment our hearts, minds, and souls are full of restlessness but at the very next moment we can fill ourselves with love, as the sh'ma teaches us, and thus become aware of an overwhelming feeling of[...]

Category : Rabbi's Journal Shabbat White Out Friday Night
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Rabbi’s Journal

November 7, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 495: The Purpose of Memory (Anticipating Our Reunion Weekend)

Cherish zikkaron, cherish memory -- memory is the engine that drives our people forward because it binds our past together (Rosh Hashanah 5773 Day 2 Sermon -- Living the Inner Life of the Holidays)     Dear Hevreh,  During the bar mitzvah celebration this past Sunday, a number of people remarked how the sanctuary housed a deep spiritual presence of Jewish memory. Even though many of the attendees never stepped foot in our sanctuary before Sunday, they felt as if they were returning to where they came from.     Memory, especially Jewish memory, is a powerful tool that binds us together as a people. Whether it's committing ourselves to never forget the atrocities done to our people or to simply enjoy our favorite Jewish "soul" food, powerful Jewish experiences seem to[...]

Category : Bar Mitzvah Rabbi's Journal Reunion Weekend Rosh Hashanah
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Rabbi’s Journal

November 6, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 494: The Keif (or “Fun”) of Rubber Ducks

Dear Hevreh, Last night, many of you received an email from our esteemed Executive Director Elliot Rubin about selling ducks for our Rubber Duck Race fundraiser on December 8th. (In case you did not receive the email, you can read it here). The focus of that email was on the importance of selling ducks as a mitzvah, as a command, in which we recognize our obligation to raise valuable tz'dakkah for our community and the greater Perth Amboy community. While that sense of mitzvah is extremely important, I want to focus in this journal entry on another way to look at this campaign we're undertaking over the next 33 days. This process should be keif, or FUN!, because c'mon...we're selling rubber ducks!   I don't know about you but[...]

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

November 5, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 493: The Spirit of White Out Friday Night

*Note: This message is a little longer than usual Dear Hevreh, When I experience the need for some musical inspiration I often turn to Spotify, a popular online music sharing service. As I'm sure many of us have, there are a number of different playlists on my Spotify account. However, there is one particular playlist that seems to be on repeat whenever I need some help thinking or writing about a topic (like I'm doing right now). That playlist is simply called "White Out Friday Night." Last winter we ran a new Friday night program in which community members were encouraged to wear white as a symbol of the snow on the ground and the purity and holiness of Shabbat. More than[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat White Out Friday Night
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