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Challah Recipe (Based on a recipe from Rabbi Abby Cohen) 
Begin by mixing
one packet of yeast with 1 cup warm water1 tsp. sugar When the yeast begins to foam (wait 5-10 minutes), add 3 eggs1/3 cup sugar (you can use 1/2 brown sugar if you want)1/3 cup oil (safflower or canola)1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract1 1/2 tsp salt4 to 4 1/4 cups flour (you can use all white, but if you use whole wheat, I suggest no more than 50% of it be whole wheat)Mix with a large spoon until all ingredients are incorporated together, then begin to knead the dough by hand. 

Knead until dough is coherent and smooth to the touch.  If the dough sticks to your hands when needing, add a little more flour until the dough releases fairly easily from your hands. If the dough is falling apart, add a little more water until the dough holds together. Cover with a towel and let rise until the dough doubles in bulk (Some people remove the dough from the bowl and fold it over a few times to “de-gas” the dough after an hour of rising).…
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No Apologies, No Regrets About Our Reaction to JCC Bomb Threats

For many months now, we have lived in a heightened state of fear. Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise. And every week, sometimes every day, another bomb threat would be called into a Jewish Community Center. Since November, 167 bomb threats were called in to JCCs in the United States and Canada. Each time, preschoolers, seniors, staff members and people who just picked the wrong time to work out were escorted out JCCs while the bomb squad moved in to look for explosives. Our own JCC received a bomb threat—coincidentally just when I was about to head over there to teach a Lunch and Learn session. The reverberations were dramatic. All over town people were shaken up and worried. Our interfaith community rallied at the JCC to show that we all stood together against hate. Here at PJC, we began to tighten up security. No one knew what would happen next. Last Thursday, the man who allegedly made most of the bomb threats was arrested. Not too many people were shocked that one person …

On Becoming an Honorary Doctor

This Thursday, I am14 scheduled to receive an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary in recognition of twenty five years service in the rabbinate. For the record, I am finishing my twenty-ninth year in the rabbinate this year. But as we know from the decisions to begin ordaining women and gays and lesbians, the Seminary is always a little late to the party. I will receive my award along with thirty other colleagues, most of whom I have known since Rabbinical School and many of whom I have not seen in years. This ceremony will be the closest thing to a class reunion we have ever held. I can only hope I am no worse for the wear than my other colleagues, many of whom I still picture as young men and women in their twenties and thirties. I arrived at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1983 at a time when Morningside Heights was still a pretty marginal neighborhood and nobody went down to 125th Street except to go to the Post Office. By a strange quirk of fate, I was among…

A Holiday Message for Our Plainview Old Bethpage Commnity

During our daily drive to school, my son and I listen to the news. We are both news junkies. We like to pass the time talking about the stories we hear.
Last week, we listened to a story about swastikas that were found drawn on the walls of Hofstra University, right here on Long Island. Then we heard a follow up story about a Muslim MTA worker being pushed down the stairs at a subway station.
     These stories really hit home for both of us. I tried to reassure my son by reminding him that it only takes a few hateful people to make headlines.
     I also should have added that it takes an entire community to fight hate.
     Since the election, we all know that hate crimes have spiked dramatically. No matter who we voted for in the election, we should be concerned. Hate is a dangerous and corrosive force. If left unchecked, hate can undermine the foundations of our community and our country
     Hate crimes do not represent us. We are not those kind of people—not in our country,…

A Blessing for Donald Trump--and a Prayer for All of Us

Once upon a time, a new leader arose; a leader who embraced the task of making his people a great nation. This leader had no prior experience, no record that would predict how he would handle his new responsibilities. There was nothing to indicate that he was a person of character, that the fate of an entire nation could be trusted to him. His election was a surprise. Perhaps he was the the only one who saw it coming. This is where we find ourselves today—both in our country and in our Torah portion. In a strange and uncanny way, Abraham, who is called by God, comes from a place very similar to the place Donald Trump comes from. Abraham has never been a leader, never shown himself to be capable of taking charge at a critical time in his people's history. As our reading begins, we have no idea what Abraham will do or how he will handle his new role. And neither does God. So how does God prepare Abraham for his new role. Does God equip with the ability to do signs and wonders as God…

Yom Kippur 5777 Yizkor The MItzvah of Parenting

Up until a few years ago, after I conducted a funeral for an older person, I would find a reason to call my parents in California. I never said to them, “I am just calling because I want to remind myself what a blessing it is to still have living parents.” They would have hung up me for for a line like that. Instead, I would invent a cooking or gardening question for my mom, or find something that happened to one my kids that seemed newsworthy. That way, I could hear my parents' voices without them ever knowing just how much I thought on funeral days about how lucky I was that they were still around and how I had yet again been reminded that it wouldn't last forever. Our relationship with our parents changes when we reach middle age. Some of us assume care-taking roles as our parents become less able to live independently or develop significant health problems. We may even begin to feel like our roles have been reversed and that we have become parents to our parents. Caretakin…

Yom Kippur 5777 Kol Nidre: Where Did the Time Go?

I would like to begin tonight by taking you back in time exactly one year; to October 11, 2015. To help us remember that day better, let's take a look at what was happening in the news. ISIS carries out two horrific bombings in Turkey. Floods ravage North and South Carolina. Five Democratic candidates gather in Las Vegas for their first nationally televised debate And Chase Utley is suspended for two games after his aggressive slide into second base broke the leg of the Mets' Ruben Tejada. Now that we have revisited the some of the major events of a year ago, let me ask you to think about the following question: How quickly has time passed for you in this past year? Let's use a simple rating scale, one to ten. If time has passed very slowly, answer “one.” If time has passed very quickly, answer “ten. Or pick a number somewhere in between that reflects how quickly or slowly the year seemed to go by for you. If you are a typical adult over forty, you probably said that th…