‘Rabbi’s Journal’ Category

Rabbi’s Journal

April 10, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1380: Everybody is a Living Document, A Unique Torah

Reflecting on Friday's Disaster of Spiritual Care Training & Previewing Today's Workshops forInterfaith families Dear Hevreh, "Everybody is a living document." This is one of the key teachings from my training on Disaster Spiritual Care with the American Red Cross on Friday. In essence, this teaching emphasizes how everyone's unique story is a something important to listen to, how it is a "document" worthy of being "read." This is especially the case when working with someone who has just experienced trauma from a hurricane or a terrorist attack. While there is the story of the tragedy that we hear in the news, there are the stories we don't hear from survivors who collectively add their[...]

Category : Interfaith Families Perth Amboy Chaplain Corps Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

April 7, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1377: Cultural Shpilkes

Dear Hevreh, A couple of weeks ago I was speaking with Robert Klein and Henry Safran, two alumni of Beth Mordecai. They were sharing a story about going back to Robert's family home during the Yom Kippur break to talk, schmooze, and relax. Then, as they were thinking about it more they said, "actually, I don't think this happened during the break [of Yom Kippur]. I think it happened during the service." This little tidbit of Perth Amboy's Jewish history should not sound surprising. One of the hallmarks of our culture is that while we love our tradition, there is only so much of it we can take. Take for instance this one-page-two-minute version of the haggadah shared by some members of[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

March 10, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1349: Rabbis and Congregants Building Community Together

Previewing this Sunday's Mordy's Brunch Hour with Rabbi Gerald Zelizer... Dear Hevreh, Yesterday, we restarted the popular, weekly Ask the Rabbi program at Menlo Park Mall on Wednesdays at 12 pm. One of the reasons for returning to these weekly sessions is because it gives a chance for informal conversation among us, to open up about deeper conversations on faith, family, and the future of Judaism. But what's more these conversations, and the ones that follow over the phone, over coffee, and over kiddush, among rabbis and congregants form the bond that makes our community strong. Through talking we build a partnership to make Beth Mordecai the greatest Jewish home any soul could ever yearn for. This is why I am so[...]

Category : home Mordy's Brunch Hour Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

January 28, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1305: Shabbatapalooza — An Awesome Experience

The folliowing is the first of three journal entries previewing this weekend's Shabbatapalooza activities... Dear Hevreh, The other day during a break in the action of a local hockey game, I mentioned to our esteemed Executive Director Elliot Rubin that no matter what we do at the shul to "jazz" up services, nothing can beat the awe, the drama, the magnitude of a major sporting event. I mean, have you ever heard the deafening sound of a horn blown at a hockey game? It can't even compare. Since then I've been thinking about the ways in which our senses are overwhelmed, enraptured, and awed by our experiences. And then I came across this video from the very interesting, modern philosopher Jason Silva.[...]

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

January 21, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1300 — The Joy of Skipping from Shul to Shul, from Home to Home

Reflection on last week's Friday night service and this week's upcoming storm... "דומה דודי לצבי" (שיר השירים ב:ט), מה צבי זה מדלג מהר להר מבקעה לבקעה מאילן לאילן ומסוכה לסוכה מגדר לגדר, כך הקב"ה מקפץ מבית הכנסת זה לבית הכנסת זה מבית מדרש זה לבית מדרש זה. כל כך למה? כדי לברך ישראל. - שיר השירים רבה פרשה ב "My beloved is like a gazelle" (Song of Songs 2:9), Just as a gazelle skips from mountain to mountain, valley to valley, tree to tree, and dwelling to dwelling, fence to fence, so too the Holy One Blessed Be He skips from this synagogue to that synagogue, from this house of study to that house of study. Why? In order to bless Israel. - Song[...]

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

December 27, 2015
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1275: The Mass Appeal of Jewish Wisdom

(12/27/15), Dear Hevreh Some of the most exciting moments for me as a rabbi occur when I encounter Jewish wisdom in unsuspecting places. For instance, I was reading an article in Esquire about Jimmy Fallon when I came across this nugget in describing how Jimmy Fallon is simply trying to be his best self: In Tales of the Hasidim, [Martin] Buber tells of Rabbi Zusya, who stood before the throne on Judgment Day worried that God would ask, Why weren't you oses? Why weren't you Solomon? Why weren't you at least Maimonides? But is Creator simply asked, Why weren't you Zusya? (Esquire, Dec/Jan 2015/16, 120). What I find so remarkable about this passage isn't the teaching itself. It's a nice little nugget, certainly not[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 24, 2015
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1272: Tonight’s Tradition

(12/24/15), Reflection on tonight's Chinese Dinner & A Movie event... Dear Hevreh, A brief search of Facebook events reveals the extent to which the custom (minhag) of Chinese Dinner and a Movie on Christmas seems as powerful as any biblical or rabbinic law (halakhah). This should not be surprising. Whether it's eating bagels and lox on weekends, placing rocks on gravestones, or arguing over the check, Jewish customs are extremely potent markers of Jewish practice and identity. The rabbis knew this. Even in a system whereby laws (halakhot) were authoritative because of the weight of biblical precedent or rabbinic decree, customs held great sway because they were created and maintained by the people (amkha). In some instances, customs were so deliciously[...]

Category : Holidays Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

December 20, 2015
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1268: Shabbat of Shalom

(12/20/15), Reflection on Friday night's White Out Shabbat with the theme of "Peacefulness"... Dear Hevreh, Peacefulness is not a state of being, it's not a place in which we feel "at peace." Rather peacefulness is a mentality, a willingness to put our minds, bodies, and souls in the right position to feel at peace. This doesn't just happen. It's not like there's a simple breath meditation that will blow down the walls of anxiety that make us feel restless, full of worry, and concern. However through each breath meditation, each song we sing together, each conversation we have about trying to bring peace into our lives, the more likely we make peace possible. God is called oseh shalom, the maker of peace, but[...]

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

December 3, 2015
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1251: The Miracle of Hanukkah — Choosing to Act and Have Faith As Jews

Reflections on thoughts leading to Sunday's Hanukkah Party (see below after the text) אך עיקר הנס היה בחנוכה מה שניצחו החשמונאים במתי מספר את היונים שהיו מולכים בכל העולם והיו עם רב. אבל הנס שהיה בשמן היה רק מצד ה' יתברך שהיה חביבה לפניו הדלקה זו. שישרארל מצידם כיון שטימאו כל השנים וללא היה להם שמן היו פטורים ממצות הדלק המנורה; דאונס רחמנא פטריה. וכל שכן שלא היו מחויבים למסור נפשם בעד מצוה זו. רק שהראה ה' יתברך אז שחביבה הדלקת המנורה לפניו והמציא לפניהם בנס שמן להדלקת הנרות.     - רב צדוק הכוהן מלובלין -- פרי צדק בראשית לחנוכה The essential miracle of Hanukkah was the Maccabees, with only a small number, defeating the Greeks who controlled the world[...]

Category : Hanukkah Holidays Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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Rabbi’s Journal

November 20, 2015
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1238: Understanding “Discomfort” for Interfaith Families

Reflection on working last weekend with interfaith families in Faithful Families & Grandparents Circle  Dear Hevreh, "Discomfort." If I had to name the single most intractable challenge for interfaith families to overcome, it would be "discomfort." In particular, it's the discomfort of Jewish parents in knowing their kids and especially their grandkids are being exposed to the traditions of other faiths, and it's the discomfort of those intermarried kids (many of whom are now parents) in engaging with a potentially contentious topic without the unilateral support of their family and clergy. The result of the discomfort for the former is that in order to remain in relationship with their families, the Jewish parents tread very carefully on the[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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