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Why We Once Fasted On the Fourth of July©

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Why We Once Fasted On the Fourth of July© Rabbi David Baum, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh 17th of Tammuz 5778 (2018)
Does anyone know what happened on the 17th of Tammuz 5336?It was a day of joy, but most Jews were actually fasting.It was on that day, 242 years ago, that the Declaration of Independence was signed, July 4 1776. This past week Jewish Americans observed two holidays:the 17th of Tammuz and July 4th.
Most of us know what happened on July 4, 1776, but not so many of us know what happened on theJuly 12, 70 (17th of Tammuz 3830).These days seem to have nothing to do with each other – one day is a feast, the other a fast; one day signifies the beginning of independence, the other day is the anniversary of the end of independence.But these two holidays actually belong together as a message to us.I want to share a couple of stories – the little-known story as to why the Temple was destroyed, and a famous American document that we as Jews should be celebrating on July 4th...and I'm…

The Minority Report: How the Minority Can Save the Majority©

The Minority Report: How the Minority Can Save the Majority© Parashat Shelach Lecha – 2018/5778 Rabbi David Baum, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh

Do you know why we pray in a minyan? Many think it is because of the story of Abraham and Sodom and Gemorah…(Genesis Chapter 18) And God answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty.” 32 And he (Abraham) said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time: What if ten should be found there?” And God answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten.” And honestly, I wish it was… But it isn’t, it is actually in this week’s parashah, Shelach Lecha, during a dark time for our people – the incident of the spies – ten men who led our people astray. But the actual number of spies wasn’t ten, it was twelve. Ten led the people astray…and there were two who spoke against the majority. In this case, the minority, the two out of twelve, saved us. As citizens of a democracy, both here and in Israel, we seem to have a mentality of majori…

From Unity to OpportUNITY

Shalom Shaarei Kodesh,

It is hard to imagine, but it is now the end of my ninth year serving as Rabbi of Congregation Shaarei Kodesh.  I recently realized that I never wrote a letter of reflection to our congregation following the approval of my latest contract when I was elected to serve Congregation Shaarei Kodesh for the next five years. 

First, let me say how honored I am to be rabbi of this very special community in one of the most inspiring and unique places to be Jewish outside of the state of Israel.  Even though we are in the same location, we are in a much different place than nine years ago, and I feel I have evolved as a rabbi as well.  As I think back to nine years ago, during the height of the Great Recession, I realize how far we have come as a South Palm Beach County Jewish community.  It was a time of great turmoil for all of the Jewish organizations in our city.  Many were facing sharp declines in revenue, and many synagogues were losing families.  I came into a frac…

Memorial Day 2018

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A couple of weeks ago, as one of my son was looking at my father's (his grandfather's)

Lag BaOmer - Loneliness and Community

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This week's portion, Emor, gives the laws of the counting of the Omer.  From the night after the first day of Passover we count seven weeks, forty-nine days.  Each evening at nightfall, we say a blessing and then count: "today is ____ days, which is ____ weeks and ____ days of the Omer."  When we reach forty-nine days which is seven weeks, we prepare for the next evening, the festival of Shavuot.  Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah.  By counting, we link Passover, the festival of freedom, with Shavuot, the festival of revelation.  
Even though every night has its own unique number, not all nights are created equal.  One of those nights is Lag BaOmer, literally the 33rd night of the Omer.  Traditionally it is a day of celebration, a day for haircuts (especially little boys when they are three years old) and weddings.  There is also a tradition of campfires, which one sees all over Israel on Lag B'Omer.   Finally, Lag B'Omer is the anniversary of the death …

The Secret to Our Greatness©

Parashat Tzav - Shabbat HaGadol 5778/2018 The Secret to Our Greatness© Rabbi David Baum, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh
A couple of months ago, I officiated at a wedding for a young Shaarei Kodesh couple.The wedding was planned to a tee, every scenario was taken into consideration.It was an outdoor wedding in winter in Boca Raton - it never rains in the winter.As I got to the hotel, the rain started coming.Even my weather app was confused - it said no 0% chance of precipitation.So we waited, and waited, and the guests sat outside through the drizzle.Finally, they started coming in, and I’ll never forget what happened next.A senior woman in a walker came up to me in a huff, “Are you the rabbi?”I said, “Yes, I am.”She answered, “It’s raining out there, do something!!!”I said, “Ma’am, as a rabbi, I might have some powers, but controlling the weather isn’t one of them!”
I bring this up because just this week because a D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. posted the video to his official Face…