Monday, February 23, 2009


Dear friends and family,

It has been so long since we have all talked and we hope that you can forgive us. As many of you know, I (David) am graduating from rabbinical school and I (Alissa) will be completing my internship for my PsyD program officially making me a Doctor (next year). So after next year, you can call us Rabbi and Dr. Baum.

People used to joke that a Rabbi's kid and a Psychologist kid is going to need major therapy...well, its funny that they mention that because we are expecting! Alissa is about 4 months pregnant and we are expecting our new delivery on August 4th. We also found out this week where we will be next year for Alissa's internship...drum roll...and the winner is: South Florida. This has been a pretty high stress time for us and we are so glad to know where we will be next year.

On a personal note (this is David talking), I have gained a new found appreciation of Alissa's professional aspirations when I read the matching letter she received from her school (I will put it under our signature). As you can read below, this year recorded the highest amount of people applying for internships and a drop in sites offered because of the economic downturn. Alissa was fortunate enough to get one of her first two sites that she listed which was not such an easy thing this year. Alissa is an amazing person and I know that she will have a long and fruitful career as a talented Psychologist.

We are excited to return to South Florida where we will have lots of family and friends, and of course, grandparents for our little one. I (David) will be looking for a job as a Rabbi, teacher, and/or preacher in South Florida so if you hear of anything, please pass my name along. My blog below has my resume, some newspaper articles that I have written, my senior sermon on You Tube, and more goodies.

We want to thank all of you for your support over the years and we look forward to seeing many of you more often in South Florida. We have to say, we will miss New York and the lifelong friends that we have made, but sunny South Florida sounds really good right now as we are freezing during this cold winter.

All the best,

David and Alissa Baum

We are pleased to report that 2,752 applicants were successfully
matched to internship positions. A total of 45% of all applicants who
obtained a position matched to their first choice internship program,
approximately two-thirds (66%) received one of their top two choices,
and nearly four-in-five (78%) received one of their top three choices.

A total of 846 applicants were not matched to an internship position,
while 299 positions remained unfilled. This is the highest number of
unmatched applicants to date, slightly exceeding the 842 unmatched
applicants from the 2007 APPIC Match.

Compared to the 2008 APPIC Match, the number of registered applicants
increased by 66 (1.8%) to a record 3,825 applicants, while the number
of internship positions decreased by 7 (0.2%) to 3,051 positions. It
should be noted that on September 30, 2008, initial 2009 Match
registration figures showed an encouraging increase of 243 registered
positions as compared to the same date in 2007. However, this
increase was not sustained over time as the economic downturn worsened
in the months leading up to Match Day, resulting in positions being
removed from the Match due to a loss of (or uncertainty regarding)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Words of Torah - Find your inner Nachshon

A good friend of mine has been unemployed now for about 5 months and has had some personal issues as well. To add insult to injury, he lives in New York city, his roommate has moved out, and now he has to pay for an expensive apartment until he finds a subletter, something that he has not been successful in doing for the last couple of weeks. Years ago, this situation would not have happened. My friend would have found a job, and if he needed someone to sublet his apartment, it would have snatched up on Craigslist in 5 minutes. Yesterday, my friend had to do something that he felt was shameful: he asked his parents for financial help. When he told me this, I did not feel sorry for him, in fact, I was proud. His sense of shame, although misguided, reveals something in his character. My friend is a proud person, an independent person. My friend is an adult and his goal is to depend on himself. My friend got me thinking about the power of a free mind and the choices that we make when we are faced with difficult circumstances.

I look at the Exodus from Egypt, specifically the splitting of the Red Sea, as a good model for my rabbinate. Most people want to look at me as Moshe Rabenu (Moses), their teacher and spiritual leader, and I want to push them to look at themselves as Nachson Ben Aminadav. According to the Torah, Moses held out his arm over the sea and the Lord split the Red Sea. But the Rabbis had a different take on the story. In a famous midrash, the Israelites are standing in front of the Red Sea with the Egyptians to their back. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place. In this story, the sea had not yet split. Moses stood with his arms up, and nothing was happening. The people were standing there waiting for their leader, the one they look to as their father to save them. But nothing was happening and I’m sure the Israelites were worried. They are standing on the cusp of freedom, and yet this situation is all too familiar to them: powerlessness and despair.

But one man changed this. Nachshon Ben Aminadav, not Moses, walked into the water, he took power into his own hands and took the first steps. Suddenly, the nation followed him. According to the midrash, this is when the Red Sea split, when a normal guy led his brothers and sisters into the unknown. The Israelites were re-born when they walked through the Red Sea. They were beginning their path towards freedom, where they took power into their own hands.
This legacy is what motivates my friend, and it is a legacy that I intend to impart to my people.

Our success as a people has come from normal people doing amazing things, not from one charismatic leader at a time. My goal is to help our people find the power that they have, especially during the bleak times that we live in today. Few of us can be Moses, but all of us have the ability to be Nachshon Ben Aminadav, and in many ways, he is more important.
We are in between a rock and hard place, and we are at a crossroads. How will we walk out of the sea, as free people, or slaves? This is our challenge for the foreseeable future. It is time for our people to realize the power that they have and use it for the betterment of our people, our communities, and the world. It is time to organize our communities, to build relationships, and to build power. This is my mission in life, to help the Jewish people find what is already in them: Nachshon Ben Aminadav.