Self-Reflection, Teshuvah And Return

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In the song “Gee, Officer Krupke” (“West Side Story”), Stephen Sondheim writes, “Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke, you gotta understand; It’s just our bringin’ up-ke, that gets us out of hand; Our mothers all are junkies, our fathers all are drunks; Golly Moses, naturally we’re punks!” Good luck getting that melody out of your head. I… Read More

Say The Shema

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Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad. It’s the last thing my kids hear each night before bed … that is until they start hollering at the top of their lungs, “Abba, get me water!” Seriously though, I sing the Shema each night at their bedsides. Every time I do this, a chill runs through my… Read More

Opportunity for Renewal

Parshat Re’eh As we enter parshat Re’eh, Moses reminds us of God’s words, as we prepare to cross into Israel. “I set before you blessing and curse — blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God … and curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but… Read More

The Real Winner

I stood on our blacktop driveway holding my bike. My hands smoothed over the shiny black metal frame. Its high leather seat stood proudly at the top, looking down on the wide handlebars with the extra-firm handbrakes. I hopped on my brand new mountain bike. As I rode down the dirt hill in our backyard,… Read More

No One Is Perfect

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The Kotzer Rebbe used to say there is nothing more whole than a broken heart. You can also say there’s nothing more whole than broken tablets. In fact, in addressing the Jewish people as they prepare to enter the Promised Land, Moses recalls their rebellious times in the desert, and in speaking of the new… Read More

Unity Begins At Home

This past Tuesday, Jews worldwide commemorated the destruction of the Holy Temple and the pillage of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 422 B.C.E. and by the Romans approximately 500 years later. The Talmud relates a story that highlights the lack of unity that existed in the days leading up to the Roman attack on Jerusalem:… Read More

Gratitude and Perspective

This Shabbat, we begin reading the book of Deuteronomy. Every year, this portion is read on Shabbat preceding the Ninth of Av, the singular day of mourning for the destruction of the Temples, as well as calamities throughout Jewish history.  According to the Mishnah (Ta’anit 4:6), it was an event that occurred generations before the… Read More

Follow The Leader

It was the third week at camp, and things were running smoothly. “Lineup at 6 a.m. by the flagpole,” Art, our counselor, called out to us one afternoon. “We’ll announce the leader for our overnight then.” My best friend, Mo, looked at me. “Maybe he’ll chose me, I’m an Eagle Scout,” he said. The job… Read More

Growing Beards

Parshat Matos-Masai Being from Chicago, I am a big fan of the Blackhawks, who just won the Stanley Cup in one of the best NHL championship series. In so many ways, hockey is like a religion. It is filled with laws and superstitions, both for the fans and the players. There is a hockey “minhag”… Read More

God Heard Their Voices

Parshat Pinchas After hundreds of years of slavery and 40 years of wandering, our people were finally ready to enter the land of Israel. We would each be given a piece of this land of promise. According to the Torah, each of us had a claim to the land … except for five sisters from… Read More