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Yom Kippur Yizkor 5778: Our Most Precious Legacy

A few months after my parents died, I received two small boxes in the mail. When I opened the boxes, I saw all kinds of artifacts from my childhood: A 6th grade art project my parents used to have hanging in our family room, box scores from my wrestling meets (even the ones I lost), a challah cover my mother made when we firs began having Shabbat dinner at home. I did not realize my parents saved these things when they made their move across country from Michigan to California. I was really grateful to my sister for taking the time to sort through all of my parents' possessions and finding just those items that she thought would be meaningful to me. It was wonderful to see these things again and share them with Yon and Illyse. I am sure I will pull the boxes out every so often and reconnect with that time in my life when I was closest to my parents and benefited so much from their love and guidance. At some point, once I was done looking through the boxes and fondly remembering m…
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Kol Nidre 5778: Changes

While I was away on vacation this summer, our community underwent a major change. Arriving back here in late July, I found everyone in town buzzing about the new Shoprite. (Yes, that is what passes for major change around here.) The buzz was not all good. People were complaining. They were complaining that the new store was too far away. They were complaining that the new store was too big. They were complaining that all the fresh kosher meat and kosher takeout had been moved to the new store. The complaints piled up on social media forums. The complaints followed store managers up and down the aisles. The complaints intensified and did not let up for weeks and weeks. Why did the opening of the new store become such a flash point in our community? The knee-jerk answer, of course, is that we live in “Complainview.” We complain about everything. Maybe there is some truth to that embarrassing stereotype. But I found myself wondering if the explanation for the uproar was really so simple.…

Rosh HaShannah 5778 Day Two: The Opioid Crisis; Waht Can We Do?

Like the rest of us, I started hearing reports about the opioid epidemic a while ago. The stories of deaths from overdoses and ruined lives tugged at my heart. But I took comfort in knowing they were happening a safe distance away; in Appalachia, in the city, maybe in Hempstead, but, thank God, not in Plainview-Old Bethpage. So it was with some reluctance that, last spring, I accepted an invitation to attend a meeting on the opioid crisis at Good Shepherd Luthern Church. It was a meeting I knew I should attend. Still, I found myself thinking “what was I really going to be able to do about a problem that seemed to have so little direct effect on my congregation and community?” I don't remember too much about the meeting that night. But I do remember the woman I sat next to. At one point in the evening, we were asked to introduce ourselves to our neighbors and share what brought us to the meeting tonight. I turned to the woman on my left, extended my hand, and told her a little abou…

Rosh HaShannah 5778 Day One: Reclaiming Our Speech in a Post-Truth World

Just before Rosh HaShannah, a man came to the rabbi to repent. “I feel terrible,” the man told the rabbi, “for years I have been spreading gossip and rumors all over town. I realize that what I have been doing is wrong. Tell me, rabbi, how can I repent for my sins?” “To begin with,” the rabbi answered, “you need to go home and bring me back a nice feather pillow.” The man looked at the rabbi skeptically. But since this is a Chasidic story, he followed the rabbi's instructions and brought back the overstuffed pillow he used in his own bed. “Now,” the rabbi instructed the man, “I want you to take a knife, go out into the yard, cut open the pillow and shake out all the feathers.” Again, the man looked skeptically at the rabbi; but he soon proceeded out the door with the rabbi following close behind. Once in the yard, the man cut open the pillow and shook it out. Feathers began flying everywhere, carried away by the wind. When the last feather was airborne, the rabbi sidled up to the m…
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).…